Jared Staal, at a mere 26 years old is the youngest of the four Staal brothers. Having played his time in the NHL with his brothers he’s since upped sticks and moved to the Scottish capital. Playing on the right wing for the Edinburgh Capitals, he cuts an impressive figure on the ice. Drafted 49th overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2008 NHL draft, critics could only imagine that he’d go on to be as successful as his older siblings.
When I spoke to him about how he felt about his career so far and what he’d say to his younger self if he could go back and ask he was pretty honest with his answer. “I’d probably tell myself that it’s okay not to have a 15 year career in the NHL. That it doesn’t determine whether your hockey career was a success or not.” He feels more relaxed in the EIHL, perhaps that there isn’t the same pressure in the UK. “I like to be relaxed.” Staal begins talking about how it differs in the EIHL.
“…it’s okay not to have a 15 year career in the NHL. That it doesn’t determine whether your hockey career was a success or not.”
“Honestly, [before a game] it helps to think less about hockey being a job. I play better that way. I’ve been preparing for games for a long time, but I definitely sleep better the night before a game in Edinburgh. When I realised that you can still have a great and fun career without having to play in the NHL? That’s when the game got a lot less stressful and a lot more fun for me. The schedule and travel is not as grueling on the body as in North America and when we do travel on the bus, I like to listen to music or watch a movie. I don’t sleep very well on a bus but it’s a fun league to play in.”
I asked about if he’d had any bad interactions with fans. It can happen, tempers flare and hockey fans are passionate people. “No bad interactions.” He writes. “However… I do get confused with my brothers a lot and fans try and get me to sign their stuff!” That one made me smile, it could be an easy enough mistake to make for a new fan.
“I do get confused with my brothers a lot and fans try and get me to sign their stuff!”
“I always wanted to use hockey as a tool to travel the world an the UK lifestyle is so similar to home that we get the best of both worlds. Although I do miss Tim Hortons, Boston Pizza and country music.” He adds, all things he can’t get here that he can back home. “I’m still waiting to try the traditional haggis, but I will before I leave. I have had Irn Bru and it’s pretty good. It’s amazing how popular it is here in Scotland!”
We spoke for a little while about the city itself. “Love Edinburgh. The history of the city amazes me, Old Town is my favourite. I love to explore the city and the surrounding countryside with my wife and son, we visit a lot of parks.”
Where the boys welcoming to you? I ask, I do enjoy hearing stories of how new players are welcomed. “All my teammates on the teams I’ve been on in the past have been the best part about hockey and it’s not different in Edinburgh. They’re a great group of guys. It’s been a struggle being so far away from family and having our first child has been the toughest part off ice. On the ice is different with more space in Edinburgh.” He explains a little about some of the struggles he’s had in adjusting to life in Scotland from North America.
“When I was younger I wanted to be a sod farmer like my dad growing up and a vegetarian. I wanted to be that too because I loved our childhood dog so much and my brothers have always been so supportive of me, in everything I do.” Staal explains about how his career came to be. “I don’t know if I ever decided I wanted to play hockey, I was just playing and loving it and it sort of morphed into a career. There really is no better feeling than playing hockey as a kid with your buddies and family.”
Speaking of family, I asked how the birth of his son, Hudson, may have changed the way he played his game. “I don’t think it has changed the way I play, but it does make having a bad game a lot easier when you go home to his smiling face.” I can vouch for that, a bad day at the office is easily remedied by the smiling face of your child when you get home.
This article was recently published in the February edition of OnFire, the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze’s match day programme which is no longer on sale. The links below are to other articles written for OnFire: