Taking Liberties With… Patrick Wiercioch
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Position: Defenseman, Colorado Avalanche
Hometown: Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Height/Weight: 6-foot-5, 202 pounds
Last Amateur Team: University of Denver (then WCHA)
Acquired: Signed as a free agent on July 1, 2016
Colorado Rubber: What is your best hockey memory growing up?
Patrick Wiercioch: I’ve told this story a bunch of times, and it’s a Christmas memory, too. I wanted an Easton Z-bubble shaft stick, and I ended up seeing another aluminum shaft under the tree. I was disappointment and I remember thinking, ‘It’s not the exact stick I want. It’s not the same color.’ My dad kept saying, ‘Are you sure that’s everything under the tree?’ And sure enough, there it was in back of the tree. It was a green stick taped inside the tree; I couldn’t see it with the branches. So I ended up getting a road stick and a (Z-bubble) stick that year for Christmas.
CR: What advice do you have for a young hockey player and his or her parents?
PW: Have fun. You have to enjoy it. You can’t fake loving the game. Growing up, you have to find ways to enjoy practice, enjoy working on those skills, whether it’s getting outside on the pond, playing shinny hockey, pickup, road hockey or whatever it is.
CR: Who has been the biggest influence on you, on and off the ice?
PW: It’s got to be my dad (Andrew). My entire family has been supportive, but above and beyond, he’s been there since Day 1.
CR: Other than hockey, what’s your favorite sport?
PW: I’m not really good at other sports. I appreciate other sports. Getting the chance to see other professional sports live, the older I get, I appreciate a lot of other sports. I wish I was better at golf, basketball, football — any of those sports — but I’m just a fan of all of them.
CR: What piece of equipment are you particular about?
PW: Sticks and skates would be the two. Everything else will break in at some point, but it takes me a while to get into a new pair of skates and I’m probably pretty finicky about my sticks.
CR: What are your essential items to take on a road trip?
PW: Gotta have a laptop, iPad or something like that. Lately, I’ve been getting into books and reading on flights. With the extended travel out West, you have to find other ways to stay busy on the flights.
CR: What’s your favorite restaurant in Denver and what are you ordering off the menu?
PW: Elway’s. No question. That was one of my favorite restaurants on the road when I was with Ottawa. If you’re really ambitious, (order) the porterhouse (steak).
CR: Who was your favorite hockey player growing up?
PW: I was a (Nicklas) Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings) fan, from a defenseman’s standpoint. So many great players you looked up to and followed their careers — “Iggy” (Avalanche teammate Jarome Iginla) even being one of them. To see him hit 1,500 games is incredible.
CR: What’s the most challenging aspect of playing in the NHL?
PW: The everyday, the grind of it. It’s a long season, 82 games. It wears on you and you have to try to be consistent for as many as those 82 as you can. When someone says you have a bad game, you have to put it in perspective. To be elite, to be great 82 times and beyond is a challenge.
Photo/Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images
– Compiled by Mike Chambers