Jeff and Elliotte are joined by Stanley Cup Champion, Alex Pietrangelo, to talk about his All-Star game experience, the return of Jack Eichel, his friendship with Jay Bouwmeester, and the importance of preparing for life after hockey.
His resume speaks for itself! He’s won a gold medal at the World Junior Championship, the World Cup of Hockey and at the Olympics; he’s a three-time All-Star and a Stanley Cup Champion.
Alex Pietrangelo joins Jeff and Elliotte to talk about his All-Star game experience in his backyard, the return of Jack Eichel, his friendship with Jay Bouwmeester and David Backes, playing minor hockey with John Tavares and Steven Stamkos, why he leaves his work at the rink, the importance of preparing for life after hockey, and he shares a few Stanley Cup stories.
Full transcript for the episode can be found here by Medha Monjaury
Music Outro: Willy Nilly - Home Alone
Listen to more music by Willy Nilly on Spotify
This podcast is produced and mixed by Amil Delic, and hosted by Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman. Archival assistance by Braden Connolly.
Audio Credits: Sportsnet.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts and guests and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rogers Sports & Media or any affiliates.
OPEN //// Jeff Marek [00:00:00] Showtunes here they are~
Jeff Marek [00:00:04] Welcome to 32 Thoughts the Podcast presented by the all-new GMC AT4 Lineup. Elliotte, do you know what everybody got--well, almost everybody in the NHL got--in 2008 at the draft?
Elliotte Friedman [00:00:14] A free t-shirt?
Jeff Marek [00:00:15] They got defenceman. Let me read you a list here. Whether it's Drew Doughty or Zach Bogosian or Luke Schenn or Tyler Myers or Eric Karlsson or Michael Del Zotto or Jake Gardiner or John Carlson or Justin Schultz or T.J. Brodie or Jared Spurgeon, or our guest on the podcast today, Alex Pietrangelo. When I say the name Alex Pietrangelo, what jumps to your mind right away?
Elliotte Friedman [00:00:38] First of all, as you were doing that, I was thinking of Oprah. You get a car and you get a car and you get a car!
Jeff Marek [00:00:43] You get a defenceman and you get a defenceman, L.A., Atlanta, Toronto, Buffalo. Ottawa, everybody gets a defenceman!
Elliotte Friedman [00:00:50] When I think about Alex Pietrangelo, I think about a winner.
Jeff Marek [00:00:54] Mhm!
Elliotte Friedman [00:00:54] Stanley Cup champion, Olympic gold medallist, and one of the best players in the league that we don't really know a ton about, right?
Jeff Marek [00:01:03] True.
Elliotte Friedman [00:01:03] He likes to keep his private life private like, you can divide us into two categories Jeff, the people who like to put our lives out there and the people who don't, and he's definitely in category B. But, you know, for a great player, I've always found him to be a little bit understated. But I've always liked his game and I've always liked the way he goes about his business. They had a game this year in Toronto where they got wiped out and they were really banged up at the point and there were two ways to look at that game. One way to look at it was, he really had a rough night, but the way I thought about it was, here was a player, a star player, a key player on his team, who realised his group was really banged up and he was thinking, I'm gonna try to do things to give us a chance. And he was all over the ice trying to make plays that, you know, in some cases weren't gonna happen, didn't have a hope of happening, led to problems because he was thinking if I don't step up and try something different tonight, we don't have a chance. And you know, obviously you can't do that 75 games of a, in a season? But just that night watching him, I remember thinking, man, this guy cares. He's, he's trying to go the extra mile here.
Jeff Marek [00:02:19] He very much cares, that is obvious. He is... like, I think of the word perseverance with Alex Pietrangelo, and I think of him starting his career and Elliotte, you will remember this, I mean, there were two seasons in a row where he started the season with the St. Louis Blues and then got sent back to Junior, the first year to the Niagara Ice Dogs and then the second year to the Barrie Colts when he's involved in, in a trade with Ryan Strome. But through all of it and through some lean years and some tough times in St. Louis, some playoff futility, some big, huge trades, players leaving the room, buddies, teammates, all of it, this guy endured, this guy persevered, and this guy succeeded, and then when he was in a contract dispute with the St. Louis Blues, I mean, what did it end up being over? He wanted to stay and he wanted to control his destiny, and he wanted the no-move clause and that wasn't gonna happen with the St. Louis Blues, that story has been well told. But he persevered and he stuck with his guns and he wouldn't get pushed around. That's how I feel about Alex Pietrangelo. When I hear that name, that's what I think of, Elliotte.
Elliotte Friedman [00:03:25] Nice.
Jeff Marek [00:03:26] And let's hear from him! Here he is from the Vegas Golden Knights, defenceman Alex Pietrangelo on 32 Thoughts the Podcast.
Jeff Marek [00:03:45] Elliotte this is a very special day. It's not every day you get to be joined by the winner of the breakaway challenge at the All-Star game but here he is, the one and only Alex Pietrangelo of the Vegas Golden Knights. Alex, how are you today?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:03:57] I'm good guys. How are you guys doing?
Jeff Marek [00:03:59] We're good.
Elliotte Friedman [00:03:59] Is the drum with you in Edmonton? Did you take it with you?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:04:03] That thing is pretty damn heavy let me tell you, I just picked it up, I was thinking this thing was light, I was pretty surprised because those guys, they got a pretty tough job carrying that thing around all game.
Elliotte Friedman [00:04:12] You know, there was, there was a rumour going around Alex that Jack Eichel was gonna come on the ice and set you up there. Was there anything to that?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:04:21] Not that I know of, if I'm Jack I'm probably on holiday somewhere, so I don't know. Not that I heard of. I mean, it would have been cool kind of get the fancy going, but we had Mike Tyson on the ice, so that was pretty cool.
Jeff Marek [00:04:34] What was your main takeaway from the weekend, I wanna get into some Vegas stuff here in a second, what was your main takeaway from, you know, what was a pretty fun weekend for the NHL?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:04:41] It's not the game that's necessarily fun or skill it's getting to know other people and, you know I've done two at home now, the last time was in St. Louis and this one, and for me the fun part is sharing that with the people behind the scenes? You know it's great obviously sharing with Stony and Marchy, but you know, the training staff, the medical staff, you know, PR staff, all these people who kind of make our world go around every day, but that new experience, I think for a lot of them it's the first time, that's a fun thing too to get to meet different players and, you know I had my kids down there, my nephews were down there. That part to me is the most fun because there's, you know, they meet McDavid and it's like the coolest thing in the world or, you know, whoever it may be so that's the fun part for me, to get to know different people in the families.
Elliotte Friedman [00:05:19] It's interesting you said that cause it seemed to me that this one this year Alex had a lot of family too. Claude Giroux and his wife and eldest son. Steven Stamkos, and we saw his son around there. You know, you have a big family now, and you mentioned having them around. Did it seem to be more this year than you've seen in the past?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:05:41] I don't know if it's so much more I was joking this is more young guys? Maybe it's just like you really noticed a couple guys who do have kids because it felt like there was a lot of guys that were, you know, under 24, under 25 so. It's funny because I've done all these events, whether it's Olympics or All-Star Game, whatever it may be, with these, all these guys and I'm sitting beside Jordan Eberle in the locker room and we were both juniors together and are parents still keep in touch for some random reason, but, you know, then he's got a daughter now, I got four kids, and Stammer's got a couple of kids, so it's kind of funny to see how we all kind of progressed in our lives and get to meet each other's families in events like this. So that part for me is pretty cool.
Elliotte Friedman [00:06:14] Okay, so when you guys were younger, who did you think for sure was going to be the worst parent?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:06:24] Worst parent? I would have told you it'd probably be me because I can't, I'm all over the place and, I don't know I try and do my best, I don't know. But it depends who you ask in our house. You know what, I don't judge anybody's parenting style, I just enjoy being a father, I'm so blessed to be able to do it.
Elliotte Friedman [00:06:44] I'm with you, that's a great way of looking at life, 100%.
Jeff Marek [00:06:47] Let's talk about Vegas, Alex, and let's talk about Jack Eichel. He's playing against Colorado, we're all pretty excited about this. How does he look in practise playing with Pacioretty and Dadonov?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:06:59] Well, quick. I mean, you could really see the skill level, obviously. I mean, I played against him a lot of times. Never, obviously with him but, other than practise but just, the movement with the puck, the puck skill at high speed I mean that's what makes him a special player. I mean, you look at the goals he scored the highlight reel goals I mean, he's doing everything at full speed. So that's only a compliment when you have players, you know like Patch on the side, too, especially a guy that can shoot the way he does, I mean that's only gonna be a better thing for Patch to be able to have someone to be able to get him the puck, you know, the way he can
Elliotte Friedman [00:07:30] Did they do anything, kind of out of morbid curiosity, special to tell you guys that Eichel was gonna play or did you just, hey, he's gonna play on Wednesday? Or did they do anything interesting?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:07:41] We kind of had a feeling just because he kept getting closer and then it was a no contact jersey and we've all been around long enough, we have a general idea of how that works, so I think most of us were, just went to Jack pretty directly so. He's excited. I mean, it's been a long time obviously, he's kind of been getting antsy I'm sure, you have to clear the physicalities so. I mean we're doing the best we can in practise to prepare him. I mean you're not gonna obviously be too physical on your teammate, but I think he feels comfortable with what we've been able to do with him.
Elliotte Friedman [00:08:07] I don't know, I heard in St. Louis there were some pretty big two-handers that went back and forth between guys when you guys got mad at each other.
Alex Pietrangelo [00:08:14] That's cause Chief, that's how Chief played when he was, back in the day.
Jeff Marek [00:08:19] The coach liked it. You know, I am curious to like, at what point like, you're an elite level player, Jack Eichel's an elite level player. We would look at this and say, well, this is gonna be, you know, turnkey for someone like Alex Pietrangelo. How long does it take like players at your level to get used to playing with one another? Is it just a matter of, you know, crack your knuckles, tie your skates and get out there and everything's great? Like, how long does it take to get used to someone like Eichel?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:08:42] I think the biggest thing for me, coming over last year, the first 10-15 games was, it was moreso the systems? Not so much, you know, the players I mean, you can get out there and play with your teammates and, you know feel comfortable? But you're going into a new system, sometimes a big change, it's gonna take a little while to adjust and you know, sometimes you go to a place where maybe your role changes and whatnot but I think a player like Jack with the amount of skill that he has, the way the game's played now, as soon as he starts to feel more and more comfortable with the physicality after what he went through, I think the skill will take over, the hockey sense will take over and off he'll go. I don't think any of us expect it to be too long. I think he'll still be an impact player right away but I think we all understand too it's gonna take a little bit of time for him so what we see in practise? I mean, even if he feels 75% of where he was a year ago, that's pretty darn good.
Jeff Marek [00:09:33] Oh yeah.
Elliotte Friedman [00:09:34] Now did anybody go to Mark Stone today and say, eh Mark, see you game one of the playoffs?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:09:39] No, no. Actually, I didn't see Stony today, he came in after I was out on the ice so, I actually don't know what the update is, this time yesterday we watched some football but, we talked more football and golf than we did anything.
Elliotte Friedman [00:09:50] In your Super Bowl gambling pool, who was the big winner?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:09:53] Mr. Stephenson won the two big squares yesterday, so he walked away.
Elliotte Friedman [00:09:57] He did?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:09:57] Yeah, he walked away, it was a good day for him, let's just say that.
Elliotte Friedman [00:10:01] So I just wanted to ask you about Vegas overall Alex I mean, Vegas has been such a home run for the NHL. I don't know if any of us ever expected it would be as good as it turned out to be. You're a real family guy, I mean, what did you learn about Vegas and how has it been playing there? What surprised you about it?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:10:20] I think the following that's in the city? I don't think any of us, maybe to a point where Bill probably didn't even know hockey would basically take off like it has here so, it's been pretty impressive I mean, the people around the city are a lot of fun, very respectful but they love the game. You know, even the entertainment, when you go downtown for a game, I mean, you get a lot of Vegas residents, but you get a lot of people coming from all over that wanna watch a hockey game and with the atmosphere that they put on for us, it's a fun place to play but. The thing that's impressed me the most I'd say on a daily basis coming into the rink is how well we're taking care of. I mean, Bill does a great job, you know, taking care of us and making, not only just us but our families feel really, really comfortable around the city and around the rink. I mean look, I've, I didn't even know this area existed where I live until I moved to Vegas so everything was kind of new and they certainly do a good job taking care of us.
Jeff Marek [00:11:11] So I'm curious, Jack Eichel is in now, you know, we have our fingers crossed and, you know, as Elliotte says, might be day one of the the playoffs or Game 1 of the playoffs, you know, with Mark Stone, like this is a high level team. This was already a great team before Jack Eichel got here, and now it's that much better. You've played on a Stanley Cup team obviously with the St. Louis Blues. How would you compare the Blues to this Vegas team now?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:11:36] It's hard to say I mean every team's different, different makeup of players, you know, different personality, different everything, different coaching style. Everything's a little bit different. I think if you look at, we got some really good talent up front. I don't necessarily to compare the two teams, because this team's, you know, built differently. I think we like our depth where it is, you know, putting Jack up there and the way things slot in looks real good for us, especially up front. So, you know we've only played maybe a handful of games with our full team, a full roster this year so that part's been, you know, little bit frustrating. But as a defenceman, knowing you're going to be able to go on the ice with any one of these four lines and have a chance to potentially score or, you know, have a really strong shift, that makes life easier for me. I know the other guys are probably saying the same thing so. And you know what I think, before the same thing's [I'd say] about the defencemen on the back end, we got, we got a really good balance of six guys that can play in every situation.
Jeff Marek [00:12:26] And I've talked to plenty of people that have played with Tyler Bozak before, and one of the things they always say is, he's so easy to play with, he makes the game really simple. Who's that guy on Vegas? Who's the guy that's really easy to play with and makes the game seem really simple?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:12:40] Stony's kind of one of those guys I mean, he's so responsible on his own end and he has so much hockey sense that when he makes those plays defensively, if you want to jump to a spot to create an offensive play, he's gonna get you the puck. So it's a rare thing to find with a player that responsible defensively and that's strong one end of the ice may be just as strong at the other end of the ice, and that's why he makes the money that he does and that's why he plays at the level that he does so, you ask his linemates, they'll tell you that exact same thing and that he opens up a lot of free space for em.
Jeff Marek [00:13:12] Let me ask you about a couple of players that you played with, and I want to start by talking about Jay Bouwmeester. I can't believe that anybody would be on a team with Jay Bouwmeester and not have at least a couple of stories or something to say about like, any time I talk to anyone who played with Bouwmeester on whatever team always speak glowingly and I imagine since you share a position, shared a team, I would imagine the Jay Bouwmeester would have had a pretty big effect on you. Is that true?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:13:37] You know what? Obviously if you ever met Bo, he was around a long time when I started playing with him but. The one thing I still to this day, I used to morning skate all the time. You know, when I started it just became a thing that's just what you did every game, you skated for 10 or 15 minutes, and then Bo came up to me one day when it kind of started to change. Right now it's usually optional, you don't always have to go out in the morning and, Bo said, why're you going on the ice? And I said, I don't know, it's just what I do. And he said, you know, the game's tonight. The game's not this morning. Save your rest and you know what? Since then? If I don't have to go on the ice in the morning I don't go! So you know what, and people ask me why, I said it's, a wise man once told me and that's, I've kind of stuck to it since then.
Elliotte Friedman [00:14:17] I have a feeling like Jay Bouwmeester didn't say a lot to us.
Jeff Marek [00:14:20] Nope.
Alex Pietrangelo [00:14:21] Or anyone.
Elliotte Friedman [00:14:22] But when you guys won the cup, I remember that night and I have a few questions to ask you about that night, but I remember Jay Bouwmeester, he went up to Nick Kypreos and he said, you picked us at the beginning of the year. I remember that. And he said to me, like, I read your stuff, I saw what you said about us. And someone said to me that this is a guy, he's like Obi-Wan Kenobi. He doesn't say a lot, but he sees everything. And when he opens his mouth, it's always something valuable. What was he like?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:14:57] You know what? Hell you couldn't've said it any better that. He doesn't say much, but when he does, you listen. He's just one of those guys. You just, and when you talk about like, you know, leadership in terms of our game, it's not necessarily always being vocal? Bo was that guy that just goes about his business, you watch, you watch from afar, and then you learn from it. And that's what I did. And you know, the closer you become with them or the more beers you give him, he starts to chat a little bit more but, he saves all those words until then. But then, you know, you just kind of learn from him and his personality comes out over time but he's a quiet leader, and it might sound a little bit cheesy, but I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to play with him.
Elliotte Friedman [00:15:35] Do you guys still keep in touch? How's he doing?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:15:37] Yeah yeah, good, he's been good. Obviously, the way it ended was a little bit scary and people always ask me how Bo's doing so, he's doing good. I think he's kind of found a balance of keeping himself busy and being a dad and, like every guy who stops playing right, he's just trying to figure out what you're going to do about but Bo, Bo likes to stay busy like me, so he's biking and trying to keep as busy as possible.
Elliotte Friedman [00:15:56] Good.
Jeff Marek [00:15:58] The other player that I want to ask you about is David Backes and, like you, you know, David Backes was a big part of the St. Louis Blues, and then went on to, to continue playing, albeit with a different team in the Boston Bruins, and then finishing up with the Anaheim Ducks. You go from St. Louis to Vegas. I always wonder like, because we followed your story closely, as I'm sure you know, like that transition must have been a tough one. Would David Backes have been someone that you relied on, spoke to, sought advice from as you went from St. Louis to Vegas?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:16:32] Well I was just with him yesterday morning and we had breakfast together, so there you go. We're uh--.
Jeff Marek [00:16:36] Okay!
Alex Pietrangelo [00:16:37] Yeah. I saw him in Anaheim when I was there, we're pretty much as close as you, you know, best friends with our busy lives as you can be the four of us so, he was my mentor and obviously we became really really close friends so yeah, I spoke to him along the way and him leaving with a really, really difficult thing on me because I relied on him heavily just to learn from and he did the same with me, you know, I kind of helped him when he was the captain too, so we had a really good relationship. He did, he helped me along the way. Those things are never easy to go through? Those decisions are never easy to go through. It was a really tough one for us, and they certainly helped us along the way but, yeah, we're still really close friends. We had a nice breakfast down at--it was, it was pretty fun. I got kids too now so, we've seen every stage of life of each other.
Elliotte Friedman [00:17:22] So who's your close group Alex? You mentioned Bouwmeester, you mentioned Backes. Who else is in your circle?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:17:29] The closest that I've played with, Del Zotto, we played together, and then obviously Backes, and your colleague there, Mr. Colaiacovo over at TSN. So he's, he was big for me during that process to just, we played together for a long time, both from Toronto and, you know those Toronto guys, we always stay close.
Elliotte Friedman [00:17:47] They're very mouthy, the Toronto guys. They're, they're definitely mouthy.
Alex Pietrangelo [00:17:51] Couple Italians that like to talk so, we keep in touch quite often.
Elliotte Friedman [00:17:58] So Jeff and I were looking back, we did an interview a couple years ago at the All-Star Game with Stamkos and Tavares, and they were talking about that team that, was it the Blues?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:18:08] The Ontario Blues.
Elliotte Friedman [00:18:08] Yeah, you went unbeaten and then only lost one shootout game because Tavares didn't score, and they were laughing about that.
Elliotte Friedman [00:18:50] Do you remember that?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:18:51] Oh yeah I remember, I still remember the shooter we played against, I think it was Ottawa, it was an Ottawa team that we lost to and they broke our streak. So I still hold some resentment toward Johnny on that one. No I'm just kidding I don't. But I'll tell you what, we were so good that my dad, Del Zotto's dad, and Stammer's dad were the coaches, and I don't think they know crap about coaching, so put it that way.
Elliotte Friedman [00:19:12] It didn't matter. Just keep putting you guys out there.
Alex Pietrangelo [00:19:15] Just open the door. [unclear]
Jeff Marek [00:19:18] Cody Hodgson was on that team. Michael Del Zotto, yourself, Stamkos, Tavares. Who was the goalie? I always wonder about that like on a team that's like so stacked.
Alex Pietrangelo [00:19:26] Michael Hutchinson.
Jeff Marek [00:19:27] Michael Hutchinson, okay.
Alex Pietrangelo [00:19:28] And... Gordon Green? Yeah, here he was, he played minor hockey with us growing up, but Hutchinson's the goalie on a [unclear]. But he wasn't in that game, so I can't blame him.
Elliotte Friedman [00:19:38] How many shots would you guys give up a game?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:19:40] Not many. Let's just say that. You know you don't wanna be too cocky, but we were pretty good.
Elliotte Friedman [00:19:46] You know, Alex, I wanted to ask you a bit about one of the nights I really remember covering this league was the night you guys won the Stanley Cup in Boston. And the reason I remember it really well was, after our broadcast was over I had the opportunity to walk by your dressing room and you guys were dunking people in the Stanley Cup. Now I don't like to stay around and watch, I think that's for the people who've won the Cup, the players, the team and everything. But someone told me, you guys missed, we dunked the owner in the Stanley Cup.
Alex Pietrangelo [00:20:19] We dunked everybody.
Elliotte Friedman [00:20:21] Whose idea was it to do the owner and who did it? Lke Were you pushing Tom Stillman's head in?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:20:27] No I was, I was back on the ice with my family but honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if it was Tom's idea. When in Rome, right? Why not? Why not? Do it. I think everybody got a dose of that. Yeah. Hey if you get opportunity to win something like that, you enjoy every second of it.
Elliotte Friedman [00:20:40] What do you remember most about that night?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:20:42] Um, I spent a lot of, a lot of time with the organisation. I mean, obviously family right? That's the number one. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't the most important thing. I had my my wife there. My brother-in law, my parents, my brother, all that, everybody was there. I'd never seen my dad cry and he was tearing up so it was, you know, how much it means to them to them too, right, to see me go through, you know, as a kid, my whole career and then to see my family that happy for me and obviously sharing with my wife was really something special because I would be able to do what I do without her. So aside from the family thing, though, you know, when you're in an organisation for as long as I was, 10 years, 12 years and then you finally reach that point that you were trying to get to? It's pretty special because there's a lot of, you know, hard days in this business where you, you're trying, you're trying, you're trying, you know you make it to the Conference Finals, you lose in the first round, lose in the second round, and it's easy to kind of, you know, get discouraged, but we stuck together as a group and when you go through the trenches with guys, especially in the playoffs, that's when you become close and we still have a lot of friends in that organisation so. Certainly something special that we will share with them.
Elliotte Friedman [00:21:48] The other thing that people talk about was the flight home. I guess the families took one plane and the players and the executives and the coaches took another plane. And I've had people tell me that that plane ride home was one of the most special things they ever went through.
Alex Pietrangelo [00:22:05] It was wild. Between us and the doctors and, and you know, there were some people that weren't enjoying themselves, let's say that. But then we landed. And then the fans were at the airport and we brought the Cup over to, to the fans at the airport, so they got to see it right away and then the party continued the rest of the night. I'd never seen my mom stay up so late, I'll tell you that much. Or my wife. Or me. And then we brought the, I still joke, we brought the minivan down to the rink because it's the only car we had at the time that could fit everybody cause you see we had the triplets that time and, I look back and I go, Michael Del Zotto, I got me, there's two other guys and then my brother-in-law. And then I look in the trunk and it's the Stanley Cup just bouncing around in the back of the minivan. So I'm like, probably the first time that's ever happened.
Jeff Marek [00:22:48] That's awesome. I'm curious like at the moment when you win the Stanley Cup, like certainly you're, obviously you're happy for yourself. You've gone through a ton to get there. No hockey player, you know, gets there without some type of dent or wound, whether physical or mental or both. But who else are you happy for at that time? Like, you look around, you're like okay, you know what, this is great for this guy, and this is great for that guy like, who else do you look at and say, this is really great for this guy.
Alex Pietrangelo [00:23:16] I guess you're talking about Jay Bo guy like that, hadn't even played a playoff game until the came and got traded to St. Louis, right?
Elliotte Friedman [00:23:20] Right.
Alex Pietrangelo [00:23:20] He had a great career up to that point. You know, that's a long time without even making the playoffs, you know? You know, Ray Barile's the head of player training there, there are people like that, you know, he's there in the organisation for about 30 years and then finally had a chance to win. You know, there's a lot of people that spent a lot of time and energy, you know, doing their job and the joy that it brings them too? Because behind the scenes, I don't think, you know whether it St. Louis, Vegas or anywhere else in the league, sometimes those guys don't get enough credit for what they do to kind of keep us in one piece and, to share that with them, you know, the joy of [winning] is pretty amazing to see.
Elliotte Friedman [00:23:53] Do you ever talk about it with your teammates on Vegas, about what it's like to win? Do you ever show them your Cup ring as motivation or anything like that?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:24:02] No. I keep that separate. Because in all honesty, I don't think anyone needs motivation to win the Stanley Cup I'll tell you that, that's why we're all here right? I think everybody knows what that means, and every year goes by, you don't win, you see someone else win it, and it makes you more hungry. So, you know, I obviously talk about my experiences but aside from that, I'm here to do it, to win here, and that's my job. But I think my experience certainly helps in that regard with guys come playoff time because I've had the experience of going that far.
Elliotte Friedman [00:24:28] I wonder too Alex, just the overall transition from St. Louis to Vegas. I remember Carlo tweeting at the time. I just remember how emotional he was about it. And, you know, how long did it take you to, sort of, I don't know if move on is the right word because I don't know if you ever do. But how long until the raw feelings from that kind of went away?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:24:55] Um. I don't know if that ever really goes away. The thing for me is I still have an attachment to the city, my wife's from there.
Elliotte Friedman [00:24:59] Mhm.
Alex Pietrangelo [00:25:00] So it's not like I'm never gonna go back to that city right? So I go back. Obviously, she goes back on a regular basis. It's not an easy thing to do because you feel comfortable there? It didn't take as long as I thought honestly, when I came here, and once you start getting into the games, like it's a little bit strange at first because, you know, I was living there and signed here and then it was just a weird situation. But once I came here with the family and, you know got the kids in school, practising, started playing games and you find that whole new routine and get back into that grind of the season, that's I think for me when I started feeling like more comfortable and my wife feel more comfortable and the kids and all that. So it's not easy for anybody to go through whether you've been somewhere for a couple of years or, you know, 10 years, you get used to where you are.
Elliotte Friedman [00:25:41] Looking back at it what was the wildest thing that happened during that free agency period?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:25:46] I don't think it's so much wild, but in terms of difficulty, it was probably like, there's a lot to take into account when you have a family right? That was a lot of stuff that I had to think about. When you first start playing as a young fella, I think a lot of that you just kind of go about your business and then you get married and then you have kids and, you know you start thinking about, you know, all that stuff, that's important so. It certainly made the decision more difficult but it certainly plays a part and as it should because I wanna make sure my family is comfortable as well.
Elliotte Friedman [00:26:16] Mhm. 100%
Jeff Marek [00:26:17] So was it.... awkward? How was the conversation when Doug Armstrong called you about Team Canada?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:26:25] I mean we're both professionals it [wasn't] so much awkward. I mean, we spoken after that but, we put it aside, I mean, the Olympics is a whole different thing right? We had a different focus, you know, so I appreciate him still trusting me and my opinions along the way there were some things that I had some input on. You know, that was nice from that so, no, we kept it professional we have. I mean, things didn't go the way either of us wanted to do so, the way we ended, we well, we both moved on and we tried to enjoy that process as much as we could because we don't know if we're ever gonna get another opportunity to be part of an Olympics, whether it's together or not. So it was fun while it lasted, I guess, until they pulled the plug on it.
Elliotte Friedman [00:27:00] Did you say, whatever you do, don't put Mark Stone on the Olympic team like did you skewer any particular players like that?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:27:11] I said, no Mark Stone, or Shea Theodore, Pete shouldn't be the coach. I tried. I tried! They didn't listen!
Elliotte Friedman [00:27:21] You know but the thing is, I know you're not gonna say specifics, but I think that's gotta be pretty interesting that they would. I'm sure they asked Crosby his opinion too. What's that like when someone says to you, hey--because I mean, you know how big a dream the Olympics are, you've got that gold medal. What it must be like for someone to ask you, hey, what do you think about this player, this player or something like that?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:27:45] I mean, it's a little lot, it's uncomfortable sometimes, you know, because you don't wanna say anything bad about anybody, but ultimately, you know, they trust my Connor's and Sid's opinion, that's why we were named as, you know the first three, so we have to give our input cause, you know, he's there to win, I'm there to win, you know, the coaches are there to win and the goal is to do that. So, you know, we're representing the country the best way we can. Sometimes you have to talk about uncomfortable things but, I'll say a few things but, their opinion's last but I mean, it's kind of fun talking about hockey. You know, those guys, GMs and coaches always have a different opinion on players as well.
Elliotte Friedman [00:28:19] So, Alex, here's the thing, just in talking to people about you, you know what the number one thing that I heard? Was you are one of the smartest people in the league when it comes to just, business and knowing how to take care of your personal interests and things like that, like every player has the opportunity to do some things because of the compensation. But I had several players tell me that you are one of the smartest, smartest players when it comes to preparing for retirement and things like that. You know, I don't like to pry, I don't like to ask anybody anything that's not my business, but I am interested in just the idea of preparing for your future. And what advice do you give and what did you learn it?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:29:08] Little bit self-taught. I think, you know a lot of guys over the years have told me, you know, you're not going to play like, David Backes was really, really good friend of mine, and he always said the same thing, you can't play the game forever right? So you certainly want to enjoy yourself, and we certainly feel comfortable where me and my wife are, but you gotta prepare because, you know, 36 or 37, I keep losing track of how many years I have left. 37 or whatever it is, you know, I'm not gonna be doing this anymore so, you know, it's nice when when you're making a living that we are, but it doesn't last forever. And you know, my dad taught me that. And the other thing too for me, I think the further you get into your career, the longer you play, I don't want to say that, you know, maybe the game gets boring, that's probably not a good way to put it, but you try and find different interests, you know, try and keep your mind occupied. Try and, now I'm busy I got four kids, but you know, when you're 21, 22, you go home from the rink, you play video games or whatever you do and get up the next thing and that's that. But I think once I started to a little bit older and I started to find different interests, that's kind of how I got into thinking, okay, well, maybe there's a there is a life after hockey, I'm not going to be able to do it forever, and I should probably start learning. Takes time, takes learning. It takes a lot of questions. I ask a lot of questions and try and learn from a lot of different people but, I think for me personally, I think if I can help just one guy or two guys maybe in my career down the road and maybe help them be a little bit smarter with what they're doing in the future, then that's a win for me.
Elliotte Friedman [00:30:31] Now, again, you can tell me if I'm being too nosy, but what advice do you give?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:30:38] Well, I guess there's a lot of different topics, but the big thing is what I did say that, you know, it's not gonna last forever. You know, it might be something as simple as, you know, let's just take a car, for example. You know, it's it's like you want to buy this specific car but maybe it's not the right time to buy that car because maybe you should wait till you get the next contract before you spend the money on that thing you know it's, it's easy to kind of start thinking one way, but sometimes you gotta take a step back and look at the bigger picture and, you guys know, as you get older, all of a sudden you have a mortgage and then you've gotta pay for kids and you got to pay for kids' school and all of a sudden you're saying, oh, maybe back in the day, if I could have been a little bit smarter, it'd be a little bit different. It's not really anything too specific, I get questions all the time from guys. Sometimes I think I just pretend I'm smarter than I actually am. But I always tell guys, if I don't know the answer, I'll call somebody and I'll try and find the answer out to try and help these guys because, you only can live life through experience and I guess I'm the old guy here, so I try and use my experience.
Elliotte Friedman [00:31:34] I just want to say, Jeff, that one of the things a couple of guys told me was that they think that Alex, of all the players in the NHL, they think he is one of the best work-life balances because obviously, Alex, you're a hell of a player. You're, you work hard on your game at the top of the game, but also you're well-rounded in terms of your interests away from the rink and you're doting on your family. And I had a few guys tell me that you have worked hard to figure that out. I can be a great player, but I can also be a great family person, I can be very smart about how we prepare for the future, and I was really amazed that that's what guys told me about you, is that you seem to have a good pulse on a well-balanced life that a lot of other players want to get to. I think Alex, that's a phenomenal compliment, by the way.
Alex Pietrangelo [00:32:22] Yeah. And that is a compliment. I appreciate, you know, people saying that. It takes time, you know, right? and anybody who's a new parent is gonna say the same thing is, the only thing that people tell you is that it's not gonna be easy, right? So you gotta find that routine as a father and as a husband and a wife. And, you know, I used to take work home all the time, and I'm sure a lot of guys say the same thing in the game or whatever but, you know, I go home, my kids don't know if I played well or I play bad. My wife does, but you know. They don't know the difference. They just wanna know Dad. So I think that has really helped me kind of leave work at work and home is home. My wife's been really patient with me, and I owe a lot to her in terms of trying to find that balance because she's been very patient with, you know, understanding what I do for a living and it becomes stressful at times but, if there's anything I need, she kind of balances me out. So I think it's made me a better player and I said that to people before is that, you know, finding that balance of being a father has made me a better person, a better player because I can go to the rink every day and I feel refreshed, one because I didn't think about hockey at home and as I was joking earlier, I said two, it's probably just because I actually was able to get four kids to school somehow by myself. You know, you get em dressed somehow, you get em to school. So, and I don't want to keep doling on my wife, but it's not just me. It's a balance we have as a family, and she's done a really good job of helping me.
Elliotte Friedman [00:33:39] We can never do it alone like we all know we're lucky, right? Like, we look at them in our lives and say, how did I end up with this person? Like how on earth?
Alex Pietrangelo [00:33:47] I couldn't stand myself if I was her I'll tell you that, I'm all over the place. I mean it's like, I always say that I'm like, I don't know how you ended up with me because I'm just telling you, I just, sometimes I look at myself and I say, my goodness am I lucky.
Elliotte Friedman [00:34:02] Oh man, I gotta tell you, I can't tell you how happy it makes me that I'm talking to this guy who's won the Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal and accomplished everything as a hockey player that you have and you say the same things about your wife that I do about mine, I can't tell you how excited that makes me.
Alex Pietrangelo [00:34:17] Yeah. Well you know what, I'm a human being too, right? I always tell people, I'm a father first and then job comes second because kids are gonna be around a lot longer than the job and so that's another thing I always preach on people.
Jeff Marek [00:34:26] You got your priorities right. Alex this has been a lot of fun. Really good catching up with you, I know you're a really busy guy. Thanks for taking time out of both your, your professional and personal life to do this with us. Much appreciated.
Alex Pietrangelo [00:34:36] Okay, guys. Good job with it.
Elliotte Friedman [00:34:37] Thanks Alex.
Jeff Marek [00:34:41] Hope you enjoyed that conversation with Alex Pietrangelo. Taking us out today, a folk rock indie band from Kingston, Ontario. Willy Nilly was formed in 2019, writing acoustically led songs with lyrics that are dense yet vulnerable. From their debut album Dogs in Heaven, here's Willy Nilly with Home Alone on 32 Thoughts the Podcast.