We asked, they answered: Wes WalzFormer Minnesota Wild forward and Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Wes Walz spent Monday evening at Prairie Island Arena on the first day of the team's road tour. Prior to signing autographs and meeting local fans, Walz spent some time with the Republican Eagle's Eric Lear
By: Eric Lear, The Republican Eagle
Former Minnesota Wild forward and Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Wes Walz spent Monday evening at Prairie Island Arena on the first day of the team's road tour. Prior to signing autographs and meeting local fans, Walz spent some time with the Republican Eagle's Eric Lear.
What are you up to now?
I just rolled back into town with my family. Our kids were in school in Tampa until late May and we just moved back into the area.
It's been a hectic time especially with what went on in Tampa, the fact that you are packing up your house again and moving halfway across the country is not an easy thing.
When we pulled into the state, crossed the state border, it was a great feeling because it felt a lot like home. Our whole family was excited about being back.
Are you looking to get back into coaching?
I don't really have any plans for what I want to get into. Like I said, we just moved back into the area, getting our family settled into the area, so really no plans.
What are some of your most memorable moments as a player in the NHL?
Playing in your first NHL game is something that always sticks out. In 1990, that was a big deal. It was in Vancouver and was something that I'll never forget, playing for the Boston Bruins.
The next best time, would be the situation in '03 in Game 7 when we beat Colorado and no one really gave us a chance to win. That was something that really stands out to me.
Our first game when the Dallas Stars came back and we beat them 6-0 at our rink, I think that was a real exciting game for everybody especially the people in this state that had to deal with the whole situation about the team moving and stuff.
How would describe the fans in Minnesota compared to other teams?
I don't think you can compare our fans to anybody. I think the fans here in Minnesota, the proof is in the pudding, we haven't had nothing but sellouts here for over 10 years.
That says a lot about the passion for the people here in the state of Minnesota. The fans were great for me.
It would be really neat to see a Stanley Cup won in this town because it would be a party of epic proportions. It would be something that I would love to see in my lifetime. It would be something that the people here deserve. The fans are great here.
Was it hard for you to retire from the game?
I think anytime you've done something for 20 years and you want to move on in your life, it's never an easy decision. It was something that I juggled with extensively, especially during the summer because the last two, three months of the season before I retired I really, really struggled with my game and wasn't really sure if I really wanted to come back and play another year and I made the decision to come back and play another year.
Even the way I played the first two months in training camp, I just wasn't happy with how I was playing. I was miserable coming to the rink because I couldn't get to the level that I expected of myself.
I knew I wasn't going to finish the year. I didn't want to put the Wild in a situation where they would be handcuffed. Very difficult decision and one I didn't take lightly.
What do you miss most about playing?
I think the camaraderie, just being around the guys. The challenge of winning. It's hard when you step away from any sport where you've played it for 20 years to find that competitive juice and to get your juices flowing.
I was very fortunate to get a job in coaching right away for a couple years in Tampa. It's very similar, but it's not the same thing as playing. That's one transition that any athlete when you've played for 20 years in one sport has to always deal with. It's tough to find that same type of atmosphere. That's something I really miss.