GETTING TO KNOW PENGUINS ROOKIE COLBY ARMSTRONG
Colby Armstrong was a 2001 first-round draft pick for the Penguins. The 23-year-old is a 6-foot-2, 190-pound right winger. He was born in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.
Q: How would you rate your progress this season?
A: I think I started off alright, I had shoulder surgery this summer and so I think from that standpoint I have made steps and now I am playing where I want to play…things are going pretty well for me, so I would say that I have made a couple big steps this summer. Just playing the hockey that I can play right now from where I started, I am pretty happy.
Q: What do you like most about the NHL?
A: I like the whole lifestyle, you get to fly, you get everything first class, food and hotels and everything. You are playing for the best league in the world. I think you can kind of put everything into one group. I think it’s the best.
Q: You are not a particularly fast skater, but you have been described as a good skater? What’s the difference?
A: My mom’s got my back on the skating. I have been taking skating lessons since I was young and just learned how to skate from there. Obviously I’d like to get faster. I’m not by far even close to being the fastest guy on the team, I am probably the middle of the pack, or just under, but I think I’ve got the right technique for skating, it’s just a matter of getting stronger and skating faster I guess. It’s mostly just my technique why people think I am a good skater. I used to figure skate. I started figure skating in grade 6… my mom wanted me to do it. My mom teaches figure skating, so I did it for like 4 years, but I still played hockey. I got bugged a lot, but I skated everyday, hockey and figure skating, so I skated all the time. I took a lot of abuse for it, but I hung around with a lot of girls.
Q: You are tall and lanky…some would say you are wirey. How do you manage to win so many battles in the corners?
A: Slippery I guess! I’ve always been doing it since I’ve been a junior, going in with a bigger guy. It’s my skating too, I think I have pretty good balance, and I am able to use my edges fairly well which helps me get out of the grasp of bigger guys, I think that it’s just my skating and being shifty and trying not to get killed.
Q: What did you do to improve your skating as a young player?
A: I just skated a lot, all the time as much as I could. Skated, rollerbladed, I was always skating. The more you do it, the better you get, but I think that definitely helped me with my skating, I was just always on my skates, all the time.
Q: Where did you get your sense of humor?
A: I don’t know, my grandma maybe, she’s funny. She’s a funny old lady – crazy, funny old lady.
Q: Who was your biggest influence growing up?
A: My dad always was helping me out with every little thing I needed (for hockey), and I can credit that to him, always watching hockey games on TV with him, he would point out every little thing and show me every little thing, every little trick. And he always had a little trick about everything, I think for him to get me out there, and teaching me everything, how to tape a stick to how to put on equipment. I thank my dad for everything.
Q: How do you like living in Pittsburgh? What’s your favorite restaurant in the ’Burgh?
A: So far it’s been good. I don’t know my way around the city that much. I just got a car here the other day, so that maybe will change a little bit. It seems nice, I’ve been out a couple times, and seen the place a little bit. The people seem really nice. It seems like a real hard-working place, and the people respect that. You come through the tunnel and it’s a nice big city, so it’s really beautiful. I think the Cheesecake Factory is my favorite restaurant here because you get so much food.
Q: Are the young players on this team anxious about the future of the franchise?
A: Yeah definitely. You look at the young guys that we have here now; everyone knows each other and gets along so well. We got (Evgeni) Malkin coming in, another high draft pick, he will probably be a good player and help out, so it’s pretty exciting down the road. It’s tough on the fans to watch us lose right now, but down the road it will pay off and be exciting.
Q: What is Sidney Crosby really like?
A: I don’t know if I want to spill the beans. In his interviews and stuff, he’s very professional but he does his job and does what he has to do. But, he’s an 18-year-old kid and picture an 18-year-old kid at your school. He’s a great kid and he has fun and he’s one of the more easier-going guys that I have met. He’s a great guy.
Q: Is he easy to play with?
A: Yeah definitely, he is so fast. Sometimes he gives me a hard time like why didn’t I give him the puck here, why didn’t I do this, I always tell him, “I am not Sidney Crosby, so lay off me bud."
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: I watch movies and play my little video game thing and I sleep. I watched a biography the other night. I am into true life stuff, like Cold Case Files. And like I watched Murder Ball the other day. Pretty good stuff. Wedding Crashers is probably my favorite movie. I like funny movies, too.
Q: What’s your favorite band?
A: I don’t really have a favorite band, I like the Killers. I just like all different kinds of music. I like burned CDs. I like to burn a CD so I have every song I like.
Q: What’s in your refrigerator right now?
A: I live in a hotel so I don’t even have a fridge. So I just eat out a lot. I don’t bring home takeout. I don’t have a fridge, so it just goes bad. I don’t have anything. Bottled water. No booze. You booze, you lose kids.
Q: Who is your roommate? Is he easy to live with?
A: I don’t have one. My roommate was Crosby on the road. And I don’t know why but if he’s not sleeping he can’t sit still, he’s stretching all the time. The guy’s a freak! But, no, he’s a great guy, he’s easy to room with – anything goes – if you want to watch more TV, watch more TV; if you want to sleep, sleep, so he is pretty easy to hang out with. I like having a roommate, because I get bored pretty easy and I like talking a lot, so I get sick of talking to myself a lot.
Q: Have your parents been to Pittsburgh yet?
A: Yeah they were here for my first game when I got called up. And they were here just for the day. They didn’t really get to see a lot. But, I was excited to have them here. They were in Wilkes-Barre for Christmas and my brother plays in Cleveland so they were going to drive back to Cleveland the next day to go just to watch him and keep driving back to Saskatoon, so it just turned out that they made a stop off here to watch me play on the way through, so it was just perfect timing. Perfect.
Q: Tell me about your hometown? How cold does it get there? Did you walk to school everyday?
A: Pretty small town, but good people, hockey town. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Western Canada. Good place to grow up. All my friends are there. Everyone pretty much knows everyone in the city. It’s a small town like I said, but it’s a good place to grow up, I thought. I love to go back there in the summer.
On the weather and the conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius: It’s hard to switch it, I don’t know how to do it, I’m not a math genius. That almost cost me my high school diploma. But it gets pretty cold, let’s put it that way. Colder than it’s ever gotten here. It gets to be 40 below. It was that like a week ago.
On school: Mostly, I lived close so it was easy. Once my friends started driving I was too lazy so I got them to pick me up.
Q: How many siblings do you have?
A: I got an older sister (Tiffany) and I have a younger brother (Riley). My sister just got home. She was in Australia for a year just touring around and playing soccer there and my brother plays in the American [Hockey] League in Cleveland for San Jose.
Q: What does your dad do for a living?
A: My dad works for the City of Saskatchewan. He welds just in town so he gets all of the good holidays and works in the air conditioned shop for the city. My mom teaches figure skating for like 30 years or something, I don’t know. She teaches power skating. She has been on her skates forever.
Q: Now that you are making an NHL salary, what do you plan to do with your money?
A: I don’t know, save it just in case something happens. Knock on wood. I don’t have any plans right now. Just have a good summer, work out, and try to be healthy and ready for next year and see what happens from there. So I don’t have any real big plans, maybe just take care of my parents a little bit and my brother and my sister, no real big ideas right now.
Q: Who was your hockey hero?
A: I think Wayne Gretzky probably. Just growing up, when I was younger he was a big star our West with the Oilers, and that’s all you kinda heard about, so that’s kinda what I was brought up knowing. I look at a guy like Crosby out East, and Mario Lemieux is big out in Montreal, but definitely I think Wayne Gretzky, and then as the older I got it switched to players I liked a little more just watching and stuff. But definitely when I was growing up when I was younger, Wayne Gretzky was the man.