Boyes feeling right at home in St. Louis
Brad Boyes has the Maple Leafs, Sharks and Bruins wondering why they ever traded away this rising star.
Showing off in the "Show Me State" this season, the St. Louis Blues winger is near the league lead in goals with 15 goals in 25 games.
In this edition of Facing Off, Boyes tells us what a 50-goal season would mean to him, why baseball cheats should be exposed and why the Blues are the team to beat in 2007-08.
Boyes' Quick Facts
• Boyes was selected by Toronto in the first round (24th overall) of the 2000 draft.
• He was selected to the NHL all-rookie team in 2006.
• He ranks in the top 10 in the NHL for goals and game-winning goals this season.
• He had three 30-plus goal seasons in the AHL.
Question from David Amber: You grew up in Toronto and were drafted by the Leafs. How do you feel knowing you never had the chance to play in your hometown?
Answer from Brad Boyes: The way things are going now, maybe it's a good thing, I guess [laughs]. You always want to play for your hometown team, especially Toronto; so it would have been cool to play there. But I think it's such a tough city to play in. You have to perform every day. You have to win all the time to feel good there; but when you do, it would be the best place to play. It would have been great to get an opportunity, but things have worked out fine for me. I'm really happy.
Q: You're only 25 and you've been traded three times, every time right around the trade deadline. Are you dreading Feb. 26 this season?
A: Yup. I'll be definitely pretty nervous this year again. I don't get the same sense this year. Things are going pretty well, but I still get nervous. I will try to get away and turn my phone off, but it's hard because it's out of your control.
Q: The first time you were traded, you were still in the minors. How did you get the news?
A: I think it was on television before anyone knew. It was on TSN [of Canada]. Initially, I got a call from a friend saying, "Sorry to hear you've been traded." I was like, "What?" I was [away] with my girlfriend, and then the phone calls started pouring in. I had two phones ringing off the hook. [Then-Leafs GM] Pat Quinn eventually ended up calling me and told me why I was getting traded. They wanted to bring in a veteran [Owen Nolan] for a playoff run, and that was about it.
Q: As a young kid, how did you feel having to deal with this?
A: It was tough. A lot of people don't realize the behind-the-scenes part of the game. I was lucky I didn't have a family to move. But some of these guys have kids in school, a pregnant wife; it can be really hard. Brad Stuart just had a new baby boy in Boston last season, and a month later, he was gone. So that was tough. He had to leave his family behind and go to his new team.
Q: Your mother is a teacher, and your father is a principal. Is it safe to say you're the smartest guy on the Blues?
A: [Laughs] I don't know. Lee Stempniak and Jammer [Jamal Mayers], they are really bright guys. Stempniak went to Dartmouth, so he is an Ivy League guy; he knows his stuff. I always did well in school, but I decided to go the junior hockey way, so I don't have my college degree yet. My parents keep bugging me because they still want me to take some courses in the summer and get a degree.
Q: Are you going to?
A: I'd like to. My first year of pro hockey, I took a few classes in the summer, so I have a few credits. Maybe I'll go back. Honestly, though, the motivation part of it is tough. For most people, they go to school to get a good education and a good job and then, ultimately, support their family. So, the motivation is tough because I feel I can support myself right now.
Q: You can support yourself and a few families!
A: [Laughs] My parents are right, though. I would like to get my education, learn some things. It's important to my parents, and I'm sure it would be a great experience.
Q: During your rookie season, you scored your first NHL hat trick. What do you remember about that?
A: Just how exciting it was. I played on a line with Marco Sturm and Patrice Bergeron, and we loved playing with each other. Every time Marco scored, you should have seen his face; he acted like it was the first or last goal he would ever score. The three of us are so close, so to get a hat trick playing with them was great. My parents were at the game, too, so that was kind of cool. It was an exciting game. All the goals were in the third period, and we ended up winning the game.
Q: Have you spoken with Bergeron since his concussion?
A: Yeah, a few times. He's getting better, but he's still pretty sore. The first time I talked with him, he was still having headaches and his nose was really bashed in. He's now able to watch full games again. Before he couldn't because all the movement on TV gave him a headache. It's hard to figure out what is going on in guys' minds, the amount of times guys get hit from behind. I just don't get it.
Q: Compare Boston and St Louis as hockey towns.
A: I think Boston has the Original Six aura to it. It's a great sports town; the Patriots are awesome, the Red Sox and Celtics are amazing. It's a downtown city, a lot is happening in the core of the city. St. Louis is more spread out, but it's just as good as a sports town. Fans appreciate effort here. Even if we don't win, they are happy as long as we are working hard. In Boston, you have more of a winning city. They expect you to win because the Red Sox and Patriots have been winning.
Q: Do you get recognized in St. Louis often?
A: More now that we're winning. Sometimes, people will recognize my name.
Q: So, you're a bit of a celebrity. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is now dating Jessica Simpson. Is there a singer or starlet you have an eye on?
A: I'm not getting any stars. I'm just a normal guy. But there are a lot of hot stars in Hollywood [laughs]. I was a fan of the girl from Austin Powers. Elizabeth Hurley. I love her accent. She's a little older, but I'm a big fan. Every movie she's in, I just have to see, even "Bedazzled." That was the worst movie I have ever seen, but the only reason I didn't walk out was [because of] that devil outfit she was wearing [laughs].
Q: St. Louis is a rabid baseball city. The Mitchell report on steroid use is coming out soon, and it's expected to name names. As a pro athlete, do you think the public should know who has been caught using performance-enhancing drugs?
A: Sure, it's illegal. Why not? If guys don't want to play on a level playing field, they should be held accountable for that. It's putting guys at a disadvantage, so it's not right.
Q: Which is the best team in the NHL?
A: We are, the St Louis Blues.
Q: You guys are the team to beat?
A: I think so. We have the best goaltending in the league right now. Manny [Legace] and Hannu [Toivonen] are playing awesome. We have great defense, and we have balanced scoring. When we get everyone going again, I think we're pretty dangerous and we can play any style you want. So, I'll say us.
[Editor's note: Our interview was conducted before Legace was placed on injured reserve Thursday with a sore knee. The goalie is expected to miss at least two games.]
Q: What have you learned from Paul Kariya?
A: Just the way he prepares himself; he's a consummate pro. There is no way I can do what he does -- all the stretching, all the mental preparation. The best thing is, we can have great talks. He doesn't brush me off; he'll listen, and sometimes he'll agree when I approach him about things we need to do on the ice. He has always shown me how to be a better player, so it's great to play with him.
Q: You guys are two of the more gentlemanly players in the league. But if you drop the gloves in practice, who wins a fight between you and Kariya?
A: Oh, I will kill him [laughs]. For sure, I would take him down.
Q: Have you ever been in an NHL fight?
A: I got in one last year. I fought Toni Lydman from Buffalo.
Q: How did that go?
A: I did OK.
Q: You're known as a pretty level-headed and thoughtful guy. What made you drop the gloves?
A: Last year, I think it was 21 games without a point [laughs]. I had to do something; I wasn't playing well. The team wasn't doing well. So, I had to do something.
Q: What's the strongest part of your game?
A: I'd say getting the puck in tight. I'm not a big guy, not a real strong guy. I can't just push guys over. I'm not a Keith Tkachuk or Tomas Holmstrom type that can just plant themselves in front of the net. But, for some reason, the puck seems to find me down low and I am able to put the puck in the net. I can usually get in the lane and get open to allow Paul or Doug [Weight] to get me the puck.
Q: You're a natural center. How is the adjustment playing wing?
A: People always ask me if I like playing center or wing. Up until Joe Thornton got traded, I was in the middle, and since then, I have been on the wing. If I get to play with Patrice Bergeron or Doug Weight or Keith Tkachuk, I don't mind playing on the wing at all.
Q: You're on pace for 50 goals. What would that milestone mean to you?
A: [Laughs] I don't know. That's tough to fathom, scoring 50 goals in the NHL. I just hope we'd be winning along with it. The regular season is great, but I love the playoffs. I've never been able to see what the playoffs are like at the NHL level yet. The Blues haven't been to the playoffs in a few years, so we have to get back there. If I can help with 50 goals, that would be amazing.
Q: You have four game-winning goals this season, near the top of the league. What is it about you and the flair for the dramatic?
A: I love being on the ice in those situations. Winning 6-0, what's the point? When we need a goal, I like being the guy to get it. It's the best feeling. I just get so fired up. A few weeks ago, we had a great game against Columbus at home. We just killed off a 5-on-3 and we broke into their end and Paul made a great pass and I ended up scoring with like three minutes left in the game. Guys get so jacked up. The adrenaline gets going. Seeing the crowd on its feet after the goal, there's nothing better than that.
ESPN reporter David Amber is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.
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