New York Islanders player Johnny Boychuk with Kidsday reporters, from...

New York Islanders player Johnny Boychuk with Kidsday reporters, from left, Chloe Northrop, Jake Avarello, Anthony Molina-Gomez and Kaedon Halbeisen at the practice arena in Eisenhower Park. Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

We met Islanders star defenseman Johnny Boychuk after a recent team practice at Eisenhower Park. Johnny has been with the team for three years and before that he played for Boston and Colorado.

What was the greatest moment of your career?

Probably winning the Stanley Cup. I won it in 2011 and it was something I’ll never forget.

What sport did you like before hockey?

I always liked hockey because, I mean, I grew up in Canada and it’s pretty cold. But I also played baseball. I enjoyed playing that in the summertime.

About how many hours a day do you practice?

Well, now I practice maybe like a couple of hours a day or so. But before I would always go to the outdoor rink back home and stay out as long as I could.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

Usually just chicken. I like salads. And chicken and pasta. Usually before games I’ll have vegetables. All the good stuff.

This season is a tough one because of the change in coaches. How are you handling it?

Well, I think it’s a difficult transition but he was a good coach and we have a lot of guys that have to step up to do the job. I think it will be a good test for everybody.

How do you stay in shape in the offseason?

In the offseason, well, I work out probably at least five times a week, sometimes six or seven. Just always staying active, going to the gym, just trying to get stronger and better.

What encouraged you to play hockey?

Being from Canada, it was cold. So it was pretty easy especially when you have two older brothers that played hockey because the family was a big influence on me.

How do you avoid getting injured?

Trying not to get hit as much would be great. But it’s part of our game. I mean just taking care of your body either if you have to ice down your injuries, or stretching. There’s lots of things that you can do to prevent injuries. Eating healthy is one of them. Just staying hydrated.

What’s your favorite game to play on your phone?

On my phone? Clash of Clans.

Who do you think is the best hockey player of all time?

Besides me, I would have to say I think the best player is Wayne Gretzky.

Why did you shave your beard?

What’s that? Why did I shave my beard? [Johnny laughs!] It gets itchy.

What is your favorite movie? Vacation spot?

“Old School,” and Turks and Caicos.

Do you have any advice for kids who want to play a professional sport?

I think it’s important to always have fun if you’re going to be a professional hockey player or anything in life. I think having fun doing what you want to do is the key to anything. If you’re not having fun than you shouldn’t be doing it I guess.

Do you hear the crowd when you’re in a game?

We can hear the cheers and we can hear the boos. And we like hearing the cheers better.

Do you like to hit other players?

Yes. I enjoy hitting other players. It’s fun. I mean you have to do it cleanly so I take pride in being a clean hard hitter.

How did you select your uniform number and does it have a special meaning?

I didn’t actually get to select it. My first year in Boston, they gave me number 55 and I stuck with the team so thought it was a great number and I liked it, so I just stuck with it. It doesn’t really have a sentimental value or anything but I just like the number so I kept it.