Catching up with... Dainius Zubrus
Forward committed to autism awareness and growing hockey in Lithuania
Zubrus collected 13 goals and 25 assists for 38 points in 2007-08, his first season as a Devil.
newjerseydevils.com – From growing the game of ice hockey in his homeland to promoting autism awareness, Dainius Zubrus makes time for the causes that are close to his heart.
Zubrus, whose five-year-old son is autistic, was actively involved with autism charities during his five seasons in Washington and has continued his efforts in New Jersey. Zubrus' fiancée Nathalie Sanschagrin has organized a team of Devils' wives and girlfriends that will participate in Autism Speaks' Walk Now for Autism in Nomahegan Park in Cranford, N.J., on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 2 p.m.
Walk Now for Autism is North America's largest grassroots autism walk program, and Sanschagrin's team has already raised nearly $4,000 for the North/Central New Jersey region.
|A team of Devils' wives and girlfriends will participate in Autism Speaks' Walk Now for Autism in Cranford, N.J. on Oct. 26.|
The 6-5, 225-lb. center will begin his 12th NHL season, and second as a Devil, when the new campaign opens in October.
Newjerseydevils.com caught up with him during a recent visit to Prudential Center.
Zubrus: I spent the summer in Montreal with my son and my daughter who turns 2 years old in November. I had my mother staying with us up there, so it gave my fiancée and I a chance to get out a little bit more.
My typical day starts with the kids waking me up around 8 a.m. I'm at the gym by 9 a.m. and done around 11 a.m., then I grab lunch usually by 12:30. Then, if it's a nice day, I'll hang out with the kids by the pool or head out with them.
We took them to a drive-thru safari and waterpark, and to La Ronde amusement park in Montreal, which is similar to Six Flags in New Jersey.
My family got together in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix, which was right around my birthday in June. My mom was there with my dad, my brother and sister.
|Zubrus has taken steps to grow ice hockey programs in Lithuania.|
My brother and I visited Lithuania for 12 days this summer, too. Hockey's not that big over there, and the President of the Hockey Federation is a friend of mine.
I drove around to different towns to try and promote the game a little bit more. I met with mayors and local governments, and looked for opportunities to raise money for the construction of new rinks.
Basketball is more popular in Lithuania than hockey; we have only one good rink there and even that one is a little run-down. So hockey's not that big over there now, but I'm trying to build it up, and hopefully something will start happening along those lines.
Looking ahead to training camp, I think we're going to be a little more comfortable coming into this season at Prudential Center. The new schedule hasn't been built around the team moving like it was last year, when we started with nine games on the road. We're home.
This year will be different for me than last season because now I know all the guys and can just focus on hockey. Now you're friends with people on the team, and you're looking forward to seeing them and finding out how their summer went.
I'm excited about getting back on the ice.