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Rob Scuderi Talks Hockey, Life Off The Ice

Sarah Sotoodeh |
November 5, 2010 | 4:33 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Rob Scuderi of the Los Angeles Kings, knows hockey. With the average age of the team hovering at 25 years old, the 6-foot-1, 216-pound 31-year-old defenseman from New York is a veteran of the game and a leader on the ice. Scuderi started playing in the NHL in 2003 and won the Stanley Cup during the 2008-09 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

This season marks his second year with the Kings, who are 9-3-0 so far. Their next game, on Saturday, is against the Nashville Predators. I spoke to him on Monday after practice about hockey, family and life in Los Angeles.

Sotoodeh: You just had six back-to-back games, five of them away games. How are you feeling?

Scuderi: I feel pretty good.  It’s still early in the season. Back-to-back games are never easy but we’re still only 10 or 11 games into the season. It’s not too bad right now.

Sotoodeh: Last year, the Kings made it to the playoffs. Do you feel more pressure this year to make it to the playoffs?

Scuderi: You’re always trying to push yourself. There are certainly more expectations this year and it’s up to us to back it up, so yeah I guess there is that expectation that we should make the playoffs and go further than we did last year.

Sotoodeh: What’s the hardest part of your job?

Scuderi: I think it's more the mental aspect of it. I think, during the course of an 82-game season, you can sometimes get lost in the shuffle a little bit and your focus isn’t there.

Sotoodeh: Easiest part?

Scuderi: I’d say the easiest part of my job is that we have a lot of down time. I have young kids and I’m able to spend a lot of time with them. I think a lot of dads wouldn’t be able to do that.

Sotoodeh: Do you enjoy living in Los Angeles more than Pittsburgh?

Scuderi: My wife and I are easy people. We have a great time anywhere. We had a great time in Pittsburgh, and now that we’ve been here for a little over a year and we know the area a lot more, we’re having a great time here.

Sotoodeh: Describe a typical day as a Kings player.

Scuderi: You come to practice and you’re focused on what you’re doing that day—whatever the drills happen to be and whatever the coaches have in store for us. You do the best you can. You try as hard as you can. You try to stay mentally focused. Afterwards, we usually have a short workout. The rest of the day you’re on your own. But you also have a responsibility on how you take care of yourself and what you put in your body and how you get yourself physically ready to play for the next game.

Sotoodeh: Are you superstitious before games?

Scuderi: I’m not a really superstitious guy but I have the same routine, as far as the way I get dressed or the timing I do things. But if I were to put my right skate on before my left, I’m not going to freak out and not be able to play.

Sotoodeh: How do you feel right before a game?

Scuderi: I’m usually pretty calm, but that’s just me. Some guys are a little more jittery, a little more jumpy. I’m usually pretty calm and I just think about what I’m supposed to do and what I’m supposed to do in certain situations—maybe if they have a really talented player who likes to try a certain move or something like that. I try to remind myself of what they might try to do. But besides that, you usually just try to focus on what you’re supposed to do.

Sotoodeh: Best experience as a Kings player?

Scuderi: Making the playoffs. The stretch run before we made the playoffs. It’s been a long time since the Kings had made the playoffs. I think you could really feel the atmosphere in the building starting to ramp up. Our fans were excited that we were going to get in and that we were finally kind of ending the drought. I think that was my favorite time—the last five, six home games right before the playoffs.

Sotoodeh: When did you start playing hockey?

Scuderi: I started playing hockey when I was six. My dad taught us—my brother and I—actually how to skate first. We played hockey the next year, once we could stand and hold our own on skates.

Sotoodeh: When did you realize you could take it professionally?

Scuderi:
I’m a realistic guy so I never really thought about it. But when I did get to Boston College and I was playing hockey there, I thought maybe I have a chance. If I play good enough and consistent enough, maybe I’ll give myself a shot.

Sotoodeh: Growing up, were there any NHL players you looked up to?

Scuderi: My favorite player was Denis Potvin. He was an old defenseman for the Islanders back in the 70s and 80s. 

Sotoodeh: Do you follow any other sports besides hockey?

Scuderi: I love to watch football. I was never that much into basketball.

Sotoodeh: No Lakers?

Scuderi: I was never a big basketball guy. They’re extremely talented—I just could never get into it.

Sotoodeh: If you weren’t an NHL player, what would you be?

Scuderi: I’d say probably a policeman or fireman. My dad was a cop for 30 years. I always thought it was an admirable thing to do and he was still around us a lot. I always thought that was that would be a pretty cool thing to do.

Sotoodeh: What do you do for fun?

Scuderi:
I’m a boring guy, so I usually just hang out with my family. My kids are at an age now where they really interact with you. I take them to the park and play baseball with my son or soccer or whatever they’re into.

Sotoodeh: Do they like hockey?

Scuderi: My son likes hockey, but I didn’t want to push him into it.  It should be his decision. But he has asked me for skates for the past two years. I think eventually we’ll probably get him some, but as a parent, you never want to force your kids into anything if they don’t want to do it. If he likes it, then maybe he’ll play it.

Sotoodeh: Maybe he’ll be a future Kings player.
 
Scuderi: Yeah, we’ll see what happens. As long as he’s happy, that’s all we’re concerned about.

To reach writer Sarah Sotoodeh, click here.

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