Devils Q&A with Brian Rolston
Returning Devil looking forward to "Battle of the Hudson" rivalry
Wednesday, 08.13.2008 / 4:30 PM / Features
New Jersey Devils
Rolston spent parts of six seasons in New Jersey, from '94-95 to '99-00.
newjerseydevils.com – Brian Rolston began his career in New Jersey, winning a Stanley Cup as a 22-year-old rookie in 1995. Since then, his career has taken him to Colorado, Boston and Minnesota, where he starred for three seasons as one of the Wild's top forwards.
Now seven seasons since he last wore a Devils jersey, the 13-year veteran is headed back to New Jersey with a résumé that includes three straight campaigns of 30-or-more goals and a reputation as one of the league's most effective power-play catalysts.
Rolston either led or tied for the Wild lead in man-advantage goals in every season, and his three-year total of 39 power-play tallies accounted for nearly one-fifth (18.3%) of Minnesota's output over that span.
The Flint, Mich., native, who signed with the Devils as a free agent on July 1, recently took the time to answer questions submitted by the fans as part of newjerseydevils.com's offseason Devils Q&A feature.
|Devils fans can expect to see plenty of Rolston's fearsome shot this season. Watch Rolston highlights|
Rolston: I haven't faced the Devils much over the last few years. Obviously, I've played them once or twice here and there, but I wouldn't say that their style has changed a lot. The Devils have always prided themselves on playing a sound defensive game with good goaltending, and that's a system that I'm comfortable with playing. It's very similar to what Jacques Lemaire started in New Jersey, and they've kept some of that philosophy although different coaches have different systems.
What kind of changes are you hoping to bring to the Devils?
BR: I don't plan on changing anything with the Devils. I'm hoping that I can add a bit on the power play and on special teams. The team already has consistent goal scorers, and I'm trying to be one more.
What will be your greatest asset for the Devils this season, and how do you see yourself contributing to another possible championship run?
Montgomery Village, Md.
BR: I know the Devils are expecting me to bring something to the power play. We all know how important that is, especially when you get into the postseason, when something like your power play can make or break a playoff series. I'm looking to contribute a little extra to a team that has won and knows how to win. All the pieces are in place for this team to be successful and hopefully make a run for the Stanley Cup.
Which Devils do you look forward to playing with the most next season?
BR: Everyone. I've played alongside Jay Pandolfo and Martin Brodeur before, and I'm excited to go back and play with those two guys. But just having a chance to be a part of the Devils' team – they've had so much success, I'm excited to be a part of it.
How have your stops in Colorado, Boston and Minnesota helped you to become a better player in your second stop with the Devils?
BR: As you go through your career, you have to learn from experiences just as you do in life. Going from New Jersey to Colorado then to Boston helped me grow as a player and as a person. You just grow up a little bit. You're a kid when you get to the National Hockey League, and I'm a completely different player and person than I was when I first put on the Devils' jersey. It's a completely different circumstance now, and you're getting a different Brian Rolston.
Do you have any pregame rituals? Are you superstitious about anything?
BR: I always use white tape on the blade of my stick and rub it with a puck. That's about as superstitious as I get.
Has your slapshot ever been clocked?
Bound Brook, N.J.
BR: It's never been clocked, although I thought I was going to have a chance at the All-Star Skills Competition in 2007. It didn't work out that way, but the truth is, I think it's better that other goalies don't know just how hard I can shoot it.
|Rolston will soon join forces with teammates Martin Brodeur and Colin White.|
North Arlington, N.J.
BR: I haven't played there yet, but I have visited and I think it's spectacular. As far as crowd noise, I think it helps you at home and helps your team as a whole. A lot of times when you're playing, you don't really notice the noise a whole lot because you're so focused on what you're doing, but fan support is always huge for us as players.
What advice would you give a teenage hockey player on how to improve their slapshot, whether it be technique or certain exercises?
BR: I used to shoot a lot of pucks when I was younger, and strength is a huge part of it, as is technique. Even when I wasn't as strong as I am now, I could shoot the puck pretty well. It's a combination of a lot of things, but practice always makes perfect.
Who was the first player on the team to contact you after you signed with the Devils?
BR: A lot of guys called me... Paul Martin was the first. Paul's a Minnesota native, and we skated together during the lockout year. We were also teammates for the  World Cup. Marty Brodeur called me after I signed, and so did Jay Pandolfo, Jamie Langenbrunner, and John Madden. It meant a lot to me to get calls from those guys to welcome me to the team. They're well-established Stanley Cup champions, and it's always nice when you go to a new team to be received like that.
Who was your favorite NHL player when you were growing up?
BR: My favorite player was Mark Messier during his Edmonton days and those Stanley Cup teams. I think every kid growing up then probably watched the Oilers and envied them.
I've heard you're a big dog person. How many do you have right now?
We have three Newfoundlands: Vern, Samson and Delilah. I've always been a dog person. Vern is 10 years old and we've had him since we were in New Jersey the first time. Samson and Delilah are our two new puppies.
What are your thoughts about being a part of the "Battle of the Hudson" rivalry with the Rangers?
BR: I still to this day say that playing at Madison Square Garden and against the Rangers as a member of the Devils is the biggest rivalry, and I've been in the league for 13 years. I'm looking forward to that more than anyone can really know. That part of being a Devil again is going to be very exciting.