We interviewed New York Rangers left winger Jimmy Vesey after a recent team practice at their Westchester training arena.
What made you decide to become a hockey player?
Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to play it. I thought to myself, “Why not, I want to keep playing and keep doing it as long as I can.” I think I got on skates around age 4, and I got on my first team around age 5 or 6. My dad played hockey, so me and my brother, since we were young, we have always loved hockey.
So are you a follower or a rule breaker?
I was always a rule follower. I don’t think it is in my DNA to be a rule breaker.
What made you decide to stay in school for four years instead of playing hockey at an earlier age?
I was a rule follower in school, and I took school seriously. I went to Harvard, and I thought, “Why not complete my education?” So when I stop playing hockey, I would always have that to fall back on.
How did you feel when you got on the ice in your first game?
It was a dream come true for me. I always wanted to play in the NHL, and it finally came last year, and it was just awesome. I had my whole family come to see it.
Who was your favorite hockey player when you were growing up?
I am from Boston, so Joe Thornton. He is actually still playing for the San Jose Sharks. He wore No. 19, and I wore No. 19 until I got here.
When you are not playing hockey, what are some of the things you like to do?
I like to golf a lot, and I did it a lot this past summer.
What is it like playing at Madison Square Garden?
It is pretty awesome. It is one of the most famous arenas in the world. There is a lot of history there, and I still get the chills when they play the national anthem. It’s big.
How does it feel to be a celebrity?
I don’t think of myself as a celebrity. I still look at myself as a kid. I got recognized a couple of times, and it is nice, but I am a quiet guy, so I am still surprised.
What are your goals for the season?
I think as a team, we want to win the Stanley Cup. Last year we could have gone further, but it is a new year this year, so we still have that same goal.
What was your favorite subject in school?
I was a history guy. I love to learn about history, and I took a lot of history classes in college.
Why did you select the Rangers over all the other teams you could have gone to?
I thought it was good place for me because I could come in and play right away. It is pretty close to home, so my parents can get on the train and come and see me or see me play when I go to Boston. It is good to see them, but I am also a little bit away from them so I don’t have to deal with them that much.
Who are your best friends on the team?
I have two of them, my two roommates [Kevin Hayes and Brady Skjei]. We live together and spend a lot of time together. We go to dinner every night.
Who is the biggest practical joker on the team?
I think Rick Nash. He doesn’t say a lot, but he is always doing things behind the scenes.
What is your favorite TV show?
I would have to say “Game of Thrones.” You guys are probably not old enough to watch that yet.
Do you like being recognized?
I do, especially young guys like you when you have my shirt on. But as I said, I am a quiet guy, so I like to be below the radar too.
Do you like the new rules being enforced in the NHL? It seems that goal scoring is up.
In preseason, they were strict, but it looks like they have lightened them up, and it has been pretty good so far.
What is your favorite book you have read?
I think I have to go with the “Harry Potter” series. I read all of those books when I was younger, like three or four times each.
Do you like the Yankees or the Red Sox?
I am not the biggest baseball fan, but growing up my dad liked the Red Sox, so I will have to say the Red Sox, too.
What do you do before a game?
We like to play soccer. Every day before a game, I do the same thing. I put my equipment on the same way every game, from the bottom up.
Does your uniform No. 26 have a special meaning for you?
I used to wear No. 19 my whole life, but when I got here, that number was taken. I wore No. 26 for USA one time. I like it because it is my birth date.