We went up to the Rangers’ training facility in Westchester County to watch the team practice and then we interviewed Rangers winger J.T. Miller.
At what age did you start skating?
I think I was 2 . . . when I got my first pair of skates.
If you didn’t play sports, what career would you be pursuing?
If I wasn’t playing any sports, my mom wanted me to go to college, but I don’t know, anything can happen when you go there. I am sure it would have been something in the business world. But I am very thankful for how this worked out.
Do you have any regrets about not going to college?
No. I am here now, and I am happy with how it all worked out. I think it would have worked out if I put in the time and effort, but I am very happy.
How do you and your teammates celebrate after winning a game?
It’s different now. Everybody is married and has kids so those players are with their wives. Now we hang out a little, have dinner and then go home to our families.
As a child, what was your dream job?
I loved hockey. I wanted to be an NHL player. When you are you guys’ age and you think it might happen, you have to put in a lot of extra effort and a lot of extra time to get to an NHL hockey team.
What do you talk about in the locker room?
Honestly, we bust each other’s chops a lot. There are a lot of jokes with the guys, we spend every day together. It is kind of like your family and it is a lot of laughs, that is for sure. We also talk a lot about each other’s kids, but there is a lot of goofing around, that is for sure.
What was your favorite thing to do as a kid?
I liked to play sports. I was always playing baseball, or football, golf or hockey. I also loved spending time with my family and our sports atmosphere.
Do you have any good-luck charms?
I actually don’t. I am not really that superstitious. There is so much that goes on, it’s 200 plus days of work, and I don’t really believe in it.
Who was your hockey idol when you were a kid?
I am from the Pittsburgh area, so I was a big Pittsburgh Penguins hockey fan. I grew up watching Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, Alexi Kovalev and guys like that. I want to be like them all the time.
Have you ever been hit so hard that you didn’t want to get up?
Oh, yeah, I have. My dad always taught me, you better be really hurt if you are staying down. You know, as a little kid, you embellish and you just lay there. But you always want to be tough. If it hurts, don’t let anyone see that you are hurting. Sometimes you get hit and you are so tired you just want to stay down. Trust me, it happens.
How did you get your uniform number 10?
I have been wearing 10 since I was 5. There were a couple of years where I was in the Juniors and it was already taken, so I couldn’t wear it. I don’t remember how, but my mom and dad picked it out for me and some of my favorite players growing up after that wore number 10. I am really fortunate that I have been able to wear it for three or four years here.
Who has the best haircut on the team?
Henrik [Lundquist]. The guy spends a lot of time on his hair. It looks good, I will give him that.
How do you feel when people walk up to you in public?
Sometimes you get kids with their dads or their moms with them. It is very exciting. You get kind of used to it. That was me at one point when I was younger. I love saying hi and signing autographs.
Was there ever a point when you were in doubt about making it to the NHL?
Yes. Three years or so ago I spent a lot of time in the minor leagues and realized how hard it was to stay in this league and be an effective player. It is not easy. I have a lot more respect now than when I came up. You don’t want to have doubt, you want to have confidence and believe in yourself but sometimes it gets really hard and you can get down on yourself. I think it only makes you stronger.
Do your parents attend any of your games?
Yes. My mom goes to a lot. She works from home and with her new husband they make their own schedule and she tries to hit every road city. My old man likes to stay at home and watch the games on his couch.