Throughout his 20-year career in the National Hockey League, Jeremy Roenick became known for his loud mouth and fun-loving personality, making him a fan favorite wherever he played. Roenick became an analyst after hanging up his skates in 2009 and has earned a reputation for never shying away from his opinion – no matter who likes it.
Fans of the 43-year-old will get to see him in a slightly different role this weekend when he helps analyze the Red Bull Crashed Ice event – part of the company’s Signature Series – for NBC on Saturday at 2 p.m. We recently spoke with Roenick to find out exactly what the event was all about and how he was enjoying life after playing professional hockey.
Crave: I was hoping you could explain a little bit about the Red Bull Crashed Ice events.
JR: Yeah, sure, I’d love to. It’s one of the Red Bull Signature Series events and if you don’t know what that is, it’s their action sports division where they do some crazy, crazy, treacherous sports in very adverse conditions. Red Bull Crashed Ice is a downhill ice skating race and it’s kind of a combination between ice hockey, lacrosse and downhill skiing – it’s literally downhill roller derby on an extremely tense speed track. These guys wear hockey equipment, without the sticks, and it’s about how fast you can get downhill in a little over a quarter-mile ice track at ridiculous speeds. All off this while going over moguls, going around hair pin turns and bumping each other. It’s a pretty amazing sport to watch and could become the fastest growing event for Red Bull.
Crave: How did you get involved with it?
JR: NBC picked up the Red Bull Signature Series and has been airing them on its family of networks. This Saturday, there’s going to be the Niagara Falls event of Red Bull Crashed Ice, so people will see and get a glimpse into not only one of the more up and coming sports but what Red Bull does in terms of their Signature Series and their action sports – it’s pretty amazing.
Crave: What in particular drew you to the event – what do you like about it?
JR: For me, I’m a hockey player. I’ve been living on ice my whole life and having this retro style of sport, where you combine the hockey aspect with the skating and the ability to race down a track of ice is pretty impressive. You have danger, speed and the exhilaration of a race and if you like action and you like physical contact, there’s really nothing, no other sport, you can watch that gives you that rush.
Crave: Do you enjoy the analyst aspect of it?
JR: Well, yeah, it’s a lot less painful – no question about that! I always have an opinion and I’m not afraid of it being out there, but I absolutely know what it’s like to out to go through the punishment. To know that I can see it, talk about it, admire it and appreciate it, but not have to feel it, is a much better aspect for sure.
Crave: What keeps you busy these days and what’s life after hockey like?
JR: I wrote a book and I’ve been on a whirlwind tour around Canada and the states that kept me really busy. It’s more about my off-ice life, not so much my on-ice life, so people happen to know some of what I did off the ice. It’s been a tremendous success and a best seller – I can’t ask for anything more.
Crave: How much do you miss playing the game of hockey?
JR: I don’t miss it. I don’t miss playing it. I played at such a high level, at such a pounding, pounding level for so many years that there’s only so much your body can take and when I retired I knew I was done for good. The fact that I can be on NBC, talk about the game, still get my opinions out there and have an influence on the fans is important. I don’t miss playing it; one of the best jobs is covering it.
Crave: Have you considered coaching at the AHL or NHL level, since you love the game so much and don’t seem able to just walk away from it?
JR: I don’t know if I have the time or the patience to coach, especially not now at my age. I think maybe in a couple of years when I’m a little older, maybe after settling down a little bit. Maybe. I’d like to go into the ownership aspect, if I get that opportunity.
Crave: Do you have any teams in mind?
JR: Not that I ever have any teams but I have the resources. It’s just finding the right time and getting into a very difficult fraternity. Hopefully it’s one of my stops along the way.
Crave: Looking to the NHL this season, do you have any thoughts about the recent lockout?
JR: I mean it’s part of the business – its part of the business of sports. You’re going to have contract negotiations, you’re going to have work stoppages, you’re going to have lockouts and strikes. It’s something you have to deal with – I’m just glad we are having hockey. Nobody likes strikes or the lockout but thankfully they got the deal settled and they can play hockey. They showed the most loyal fans in the world they could get a deal settled. People are going to forget about the lockout.
Crave: What do you think about today’s talent? If you could play alongside two players from today’s game, who would you pick and why?
JR: Oh, man. I think I would look at guys like Joe Thornton and the way that he passes the puck. I’d want the chance to play with a better playmaker or maybe a goal scorer and playing with a guy like Joe Thornton would be one of my top picks for sure – and guys like Jonathon Toews, who is arguably one of the best captains in all of sports. Those are guys that I really like. Patrick Kane is having a great start to the year. Those [players] are my favorites.
Crave: Did you prefer playing with strong skaters, guys with good hands, or…?
JR: It didn’t matter to me! I always thought – and hoped – that I made other people better, not the other way around.
Crave: One last question to ask you: who do you think will face off in the Stanley Cup Finals and take home the cup?
JR: Man, that’s a great question. I think Chicago and St. Louis are the favorites right now and my favorites from the west. And from the east, don’t be surprised if Boston gets in there again. Their style of game is very tough to beat, plus their goaltender and everything else is really strong.
Photo Credit: Getty