Taking Liberties With… Derek Stepan
Position: Forward, Arizona Coyotes
Hometown: Hastings, Minn.
Acquired: Traded to the Coyotes from New York Rangers on June 23, 2017, along with goalie Antti Raanta in exchange for the seventh overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo
Arizona Rubber: What’s your favorite hockey memory growing up?
Derek Stepan: I don’t know if there is one, per se. I grew up in Minnesota – we had a lot of frozen ponds. We had late nights on the ponds, the freezing weather and cold. I had a high school buddy that I’ve been real close to for a really long time, and his dad always built a big rink. The best memories are the ones playing late at night with my friend and his little brother out on the ice. We’d play until 2, 3 o’clock in the morning and our parents would roll up the window from their bedroom, and say, “You have to get up here. It’s getting late.” Those are the best memories. When you’re a kid and growing up, it’s all about playing pond hockey late at night.
AZR: What’s your favorite memory in the game since leaving junior hockey?
DS: I would say the World Junior Championships. I was able to play in an NCAA championship (with Wisconsin), too, and had a lot of fun, but the World Juniors during the Christmas break in my college career stands out for me.
AZR: Who have been the biggest influences on you, on and off the ice?
DS: I really look up to my parents and my parents are people I really respect a lot. The advice they give me was terrific. My dad was more of a hockey dad, and I relied on him a lot with the hockey aspects. My mom is more life stuff. So they are the two that I really looked up to and respect.
AZR: What’s the best piece of advice you have for young hockey players?
DS: My thing is to play as many sports as you can. Just try to be an athlete and try to get yourself involved in everything until you get older. Just don’t be hockey right away. It’s a great game, but you have to be athletic and enjoy all other sports.
AZR: What does your game-day routine look like?
DS: I try and get a nap in if I can. Obviously, I have two kids, so it’s a little bit harder. My wife has been the rock star of the house, and allowed me to sleep. I like to eat my meal, take a little nap if I can, and get to the rink early. I tape sticks, go over things with my linemates and just kind of chat hockey. Try to jump a little rope, tape the stick handle, and get the body ready to go.
AZR: Do you have a favorite meal or restaurant here in the Phoenix area?
DS: No, I have not had an opportunity to explore the area. Been to the aquarium a few times with my kids. My son enjoys the fish and has a shark obsession right now, so we’ve been to the aquarium a few times. Not the San Jose Sharks, just the aquarium sharks.
AZR: Did you have a favorite hockey player growing up?
DS: That’s a tough question. I really like Steve Yzerman in his Detroit days. He definitely was one of my favorite players.
AZR: What are your thoughts about coming to the Coyotes?
DS: It’s a real young group and exciting to be part of this. It’s almost like I’ve come into a different atmosphere in a sense that I’m the old guy. It’s great to gain some energy and feed off this youth. It’s also great to talk with them and get a chance to spread my knowledge. Right? Wise in my old age.
– Compiled by Mark Brown
(Nov. 16, 2017)