Taking Liberties With… Mario Kempe
Position: Forward, Arizona Coyotes/Tucson Roadrunners
Hometown: Kramfors, Sweden
NHL Draft: Selected by Philadelphia Flyers in fifth round (122nd overall) of 2007 NHL Draft
Acquired: Signed as free agent with Coyotes on May 16, 2017
Arizona Rubber: What’s your favorite hockey memory growing up?
Mario Kempe: Probably the World Juniors. That was a lot of fun. We were young and that was pretty cool to play in such a big tournament. In that tournament, we (Team Sweden) lost to Canada in the last minute. It’s a really good memory and had a lot of fun.
AZR: What’s your favorite memory in the game since leaving junior hockey?
MK: It was my NHL debut (with the Coyotes at Vegas last Oct.10). It’s been a long dream and goal. To achieve that as a 29-year-old was cool. So that and my first NHL goal against (Boston’s) Tuukka Rask (last Oct. 14). It wasn’t the nicest goal I’ve scored, but I’ll take it.
AZR: Who have been the biggest influences on you, on and off the ice?
MK: I’d say my dad. He’s watched almost every game since I was a kid. He always calls me up after games to give me advice. So, I’d say he’s been the biggest influence for sure.
AZR: What’s the best piece of advice you have for young hockey players?
MK: Never stop dreaming. Even if you think it’s too late, it’s never too late. Make sure you do everything you can to achieve your goals.
AZR: Other than hockey, do you have a favorite sport to play?
MK: I love soccer. It’s my favorite sport to watch on TV. Here in the United States, I try and put the alarm early so I can watch the Saturday soccer games from the English Premier League. I was actually in Russia to watch Sweden play in the round of 16 (in the 2018 World Cup) against Switzerland. We beat them, so it was great.
AZR: Do you have any superstitions?
MK: Yes, small ones. Little things, like during pre-game warmups, I need to go to the same line every time. Pretty simple and it’s nothing too bad.
AZR: What does your game-day routine look like?
MK: I think it’s pretty normal. I like to get up pretty early and get a good breakfast in me. Wake up a little, have a coffee and then go for the morning skate. Do my thing there. Then go for a sleep for maybe 30 minutes to an hour and then you start to get ready for the game.
AZR: Do you have a favorite meal or restaurant here in the Phoenix area?
MK: I love sushi. So, there are a couple of good sushi places here. If I need to pick one place, my go-to is True Foods in Scottsdale Quarters. I really like that place.
AZR: What are some essential items you take on a road trip?
MK: Nothing really special. My computer. I like to watch some TV shows or play some games when we’re on the road. That, and my headphones.
AZR: Did you have a favorite hockey player growing up?
MK: Yeah. I’m from Sweden so Peter Forsberg was one of my great role models. Forsberg and Henrik Zetterberg, who was younger and came along a little later for me. Those two for sure.
— Compiled by Mark Brown
(Dec. 12, 2018)