Exclusive interview with Shjon PodeinThe Eurolanche Fan Club did an e-mail interview with Shjon Podein, who was part of the 2001 Stanley Cup-winning Avalanche team.
Shjon Podein was selected by the Edmonton Oilers 166th overall during the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. He spent his junior career playing for the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the NCAA. He made his professional debut during the 1990/91 for the Oilers’ AHL affiliate. Following his debut for the Oilers, Podein also played for the US national team at two straight World Championships. He developed into a penalty-killing specialist and checking forward. During his first pro years, he hoisted the AHL’s Calder Cup.
Due to limited ice-time in Edmonton, Podein opted to hit free agency and sign a contract with Philadelphia Flyers in 1994. He appeared in over 300 games and played in the Stanley Cup finals in 1997 against the Detroit Red Wings. On November 12, 1998, the Flyers traded Podein to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Keith Jones. The 2000/01 season was his most successful in the NHL: he won the Stanley Cup and scored a career-high 15 goals, also adding two more goals during Colorado’s play-off run.
The Avalanche traded Podein to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Mike Keane on February 11, 2002. The following season was his last in the NHL. Podein spent the next two seasons in the second-tier Swedish league, where he played for the Växjö Lakers HC and he hung up his skates after a one-year stint with the Nikko Icebucks in Japan during the 2005/06.
In recognition of his off-ice activities, he received the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2001. Podein became famous for wearing his full uniform for 25 hours after Game 7 of 2001 Stanley Cup Finals.
When did you start to play hockey?
I started at five years old in figure skating. Ha-ha. I was a chipmunk in the Christmas show.
How do you remember the early days of your hockey career?
I remember the good friends I made and how much I loved being at the rink. It was where I was happiest.
How was it to be an AHL player during your first years in the pros compared to the present? I mean, can you compare the entire system of AHL-NHL relations, player development etc.?
The AHL was great for me. It gave me three years to get ready to be an NHL player and helped me appreciate the NHL that much more.
Were you glad to be drafted by Wayne Gretzky’s former team?
Actually, they were so good I thought I would never play there! Ha-ha, it turned out to be great.
Do you remember your first NHL game and goal?
Yes. It was a huge relief to score and feel like I could play at that level.
You were traded twice before you came to Denver. How did you cope with your first and second trade?
The first trade was tough as I loved Philly, but the second was easier as you learn it is nothing personal, it is just the business of the NHL.
What Avalanche teammates did you enjoy to play with?
I enjoyed all of them. We had a special group. I would hate to name a few, because I was blessed to play with so many great guys. Danny Hinote is my boy’s godfather, FYI.
How do you remember your first games for the Avalanche?
I was nervous. I wanted to show my new teammates I could fit in.
Why do you think you had the best season of your career in 2000/01? What had changed in comparison with the previous seasons?
Ha-ha, I don't know. I tried the same all the time, but I feel I meshed with my line very well and they helped me have success on the score sheet.
Do you remember your two 2001 playoffs goals?
Ha-ha, not really. I think my line-mates made great plays and I was lucky enough to score the goal.
What was the atmosphere in the locker room during the Stanley Cup Finals?
Fun, but very focused. We had worked all year to be successful and really wanted to win together.
Could you share everything about your famous story, when you wore your uniform for 25 hours after the final game of the 2001 playoffs?
Hahaha. It was disgusting! I kept the skates on actually. My wife and I went to restaurants, bars, diners, everywhere. I smelled real bad, but it was a dare from Barry Melrose, who had a player do it for 24 hours. I guess I'm still a kid at heart, ha-ha.
Can you describe the celebration in the locker room?
It was fun, but very busy and honest. I was so tired, but more than happy that we had accomplished our goal.
Why did you wear number 25?
To make me look bigger! Ha-ha, I thought two big numbers would make me look bigger on the ice.
Were you a little disappointed when the Avs - a Cup contender - traded you the following season?
I love Colorado, but when things are not going the right way, you need to make moves to try to get better. I did not want to leave, but completely understood.
The author of this interview and Shjon prior to the Alumni Game in Denver, 2016.
What is your most vivid memory of the famous Colorado-Detroit rivalry as an Avalanche player?
Flying into Detroit down 0:2 in the play-offs and coming back to win in six games. Fun series and fun memory.
Why did you opt to leave the NHL following the 2002/03 season?
I was on my way out and younger kids were coming in. I was lucky and blessed to play for as long as I did.
How was playing in Sweden?
Awesome. Great experience and met some great people.
How did you end up in Japan during your last season? How was it?
Again, great experience. Halfway around the world and the people were amazing.
There were no other options for you to play somewhere after that season?
My daughter started school and we had decided that when she started school, we would walk away from hockey and start family life in Minnesota.
What is your current occupation?
Chase my 14-year-old daughter and 10-year-old boy, ha-ha.
Do you still follow the Avalanche? If so, what do you think could solve the team’s current problems?
To be honest, I only follow the hockey my kids want to watch and that's the highlights on NHL Tonight every morning. Unfortunately, I am not sure how the Avs are doing.
Does Shjon Podein Children's Foundation still operate? Can you describe your motives for founding it back in 2000?
Actually, we started in 1997. It feels good to give back and honestly, I get back way more than what I give. I am a strong believer and the more we give the more we get. Pretty simple, I think.
Courtesy of photos: alchetron.com, patch.com, legendsofhockey.net, Eurolanche
David Puchovsky, Michal Hezely, Slovakia, firstname.lastname@example.org
23/02/2017 - 23:23