Rochester Americans Captain Colin Stuart is a veteran of over 400 AHL games in addition to 56 NHL contests. Thus far in the 2011-12 campaign, Stuart has proven to be a key player for the Amerks, registering 17 points (8+9) despite appearing in just 25 games due to a recall to Buffalo and an injury absence. The fifth-round selection (135th overall) of the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft also suited up for a pair of games with the Sabres in December.
The 29-year-old’s most recent highlight, however, occurred last week when his wife gave birth to a baby girl, Hayden Grace, as the couple welcomed its first child. In light of the big news, the Rochester, Minnesota native took the time to answer a series of questions and give fans an opportunity to become more familiar with his life away from the hockey rink.
Q: What was your initial reaction when you received the news that your wife was pregnant and you were going to be a father?
Stuart: It was pure shock and elation and I just felt so happy to be blessed to have a baby. The funny part about the story is my wife left me home alone that night to go out to dinner with her friends, so I was left by myself celebrating so-to-speak. It was amazing.
Q: Who are some of your best “hockey friends”, specifically from around the AHL and NHL (aside from younger brother Mark, who is currently a member of the Winnipeg Jets)?
Stuart: I have a lot of real good friends from my days in Chicago (as a member of the Wolves). We won a championship there in 2008 and that is the type of thing that bonds you for life, so I still keep in touch with a lot of those guys. Joey Crabb and Kevin Doell were both in my wedding, but it also goes back further than that to guys I played with in college and guys here that I have become close with. It’s tough to narrow it down because I have met a lot of great people over the years.
Q: What is your favorite TV show and movie?
Stuart: My favorite TV show right now is “Gold Rush” on the Discovery Channel and I would say my favorite movie is “A River Runs Through It”. I am a diehard fly-fisherman and that is a fly-fishing movie with Brad Pitt.
Q: Where is your favorite place to play on the road and what do you do to pass the time on road trips?
Stuart: My favorite place to play in the NHL was San Jose. That is the loudest rink I have ever been in (HP Pavilion). In the AHL it would probably be Hershey because there is a big crowd every night of diehard fans and it is a nice facility. Road trips are usually pretty relaxing. In my younger years I used to sleep a lot, but now that I am an older guy I try to get outside, walk around, and maybe go to a nice dinner, especially if we are down in Texas or somewhere with warm weather.
Q: Who is your roommate on the road and would you consider him to be a good one?
Stuart: I have had a bunch of them, but I actually have some veteran status this year so I’ve been the lucky one to have my own room for most trips. Out of the roommates I have had, they’ve all been good. Some are a bit different but mostly it’s just a routine type of thing. Sometimes you will get thrown with a goalie and they are just goofy (laughs), but everyone has been great. Usually you get to know each other pretty quickly, and I had a roommate in Chicago (Kevin Doell) for four years. We were basically like a married couple because we knew every detail about each other. When you get to that level it is really nice.
Q: Who is the biggest prankster on the team right now?
Stuart: I might have to vote for myself on that one. I’m all business when it comes down to it, but I like to keep guys on their toes.
Q: What are some of your hobbies away from the rink?
Stuart: I am a little bit different, I guess. I oil paint a lot and like to fish, so I have been fishing some of the Lake Ontario tributaries before the baby got closer. I also do wood carving and tie all my own fly-fishing flies. Anything to escape the game for a little bit is a good release for me.
Q: What is your favorite hockey memory?
Stuart: I would say it is a toss-up between getting to play my first two NHL games (for the Atlanta Thrashers) back-to-back against my younger brother (Mark). I got my first NHL point the first night, then we went to Boston the next night where I scored my first NHL goal and he scored the game-winner (for the Bruins). Winning the Calder Cup in 2008 was another highlight and playing college hockey with both of my brothers (at Colorado College) was awesome as well.
Q: Do you have any superstitions before games while you are getting ready?
Stuart: I think it comes down to more of a routine, but I guess you could call them superstitions. My routine has been the same for about 12 years now between the ways I warm up, prepare my sticks, and things of that nature. I like to get to the rink early and I always put all of my equipment on from left-to-right because if I don’t it feels weird to me. It’s just kind of a routine that I can count on, especially if I am strapped for time.
Q: If you could choose one vacationing spot, where would it be and why?
Stuart: I would like to go back to the Sportsman’s Lodge in Alaska to fly-fish. I was fortunate enough to go about 10 years ago and I think two weeks there again would be pretty awesome.