05 Feb

Breakaway Magazine Vol. 4 Issue 10 - Center Steve Reinprecht

REINPRECHT-Header

Center Steve Reinprecht and his family adjust to a new league and find a home with the Chicago Wolves

By Justin Skelnik | Photos by Ross Dettman

Eleven years ago, Chicago Wolves center Steve Reinprecht was a bright-eyed rookie enjoying a solid start to his professional career with the National Hockey League’s Los Angeles Kings. Fifty-nine games into the 2000-01 season, the then 24-year-old was among the league leaders for points by a rookie with 29 (12G, 17A). Then, on Feb. 21, 2001, his life was turned upside down when he and star defenseman Rob Blake were traded to the Colorado Avalanche. In an instant, he was on his way to Denver to join the team that led the NHL in points.

“We were on a road trip in Calgary and everyone knew that Rob Blake was rumored to be traded at some point,” Reinprecht remembered. “I got a call
to the general manager’s room at 11 at night and he informed (me) that I had been traded. I didn’t know what to think at first. Being traded was a new experience, but once I found out where I was going and the situation the Avalanche were in, I was excited to be going to a team that had a real opportunity to win the Stanley Cup.”

Reinprecht would go on to record seven points (3G, 4A) in 21 regular-season contests with the Avalanche but what laid ahead in the postseason was something he would never have expected to accomplish one year into his career.

“Winning the Stanley Cup was an amazing experience,” Reinprecht said. “There were guys on Colorado like Ray Bourque who played in the league 20 years that hadn’t won it, and there were guys on the team who had never been in the playoffs. You never know when you will get the opportunity and for me it was my first year. At the time, without knowing any better, I thought that was going to happen every year. Then I realized just how rare of an opportunity it was and how hard it was to win it.”

After that magical season, Reinprecht remained in Colorado until he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in the summer of 2003. That same day, he was dealt from Buffalo to the Calgary Flames. The Edmonton, Alberta, native would go on to be traded three more times in his career, which includes the trade on Oct. 22, 2011, which sent him from the Florida Panthers to the Vancouver Canucks.

“Getting traded from Florida in October wasn’t a surprise to me,” said Reinprecht, a veteran of 663 career NHL tilts. “I knew I was getting moved. I didn’t know to who or how it was going to happen. But there was communication between (Florida general manager) Dale Tallon, my agent, and myself about what was going to happen in the future.

“The toughest part wasn’t knowing a trade was coming, but waiting for it to happen. It was hard on me and my family, waiting to make the transition to a new city and get all settled. When it did happen, I knew what to expect. It really isn’t a big deal after you have been traded once. It is just a matter of making the transition and getting settled in a new city.”

Once he was traded to Vancouver, he was assigned to the Wolves. The only problem was the day Reinprecht got traded was also the day he found out that he fractured his foot from blocking a shot in his fifth game as a member of the San Antonio Rampage. Not the start he was looking to make with his new team.

“I found out that my foot was fractured, two hours before I got the trade phone call,” Reinprecht said. “It is tough when you come into a team and instantly you have to sit on the sidelines for a while, but (Wolves general manager) Wendell (Young) and the coaching staff were great about it. They told me to take my time and make sure I am healthy. They wanted me out there when I was 100 percent and not to rush back. It was great to have that kind of support from the organization and even the players. Everybody was great.

“But it was tough. I wanted to be out on the ice playing. That is kind of how you break in with a new team. Start the camaraderie and be part of the dressing room by playing. So it was tough to have to be on the sidelines for a while, but the guys were great and really helped make my transition easier.”

Reinprecht missed 11 Wolves games with his fractured foot, but made his team debut on Nov. 26 and wasted no time making his mark as he dished out two assists in the Wolves 5-3 win over Peoria. The helpers marked his first career American Hockey League points in just his sixth game in the league. Despite posting another four assists over his next seven outings, Reinprecht wasn’t too happy with his play and admittedly was still rounding into game shape those first few outings.

“I don’t think there was much of an adjustment for me from playing in the NHL compared to the AHL,” Reinprecht said. “It was more me being out and it takes so long to get back, but so little to lose what you gained in training camp. You can practice all you want, but once you get back in a game you have to get your timing back and be able to think the game and make the right plays. I think it took a little of that and the conditioning had a bit to do with it.

“All of sudden I am playing three-in-threes, and at the center position it is very physically and cardio demanding. Getting all that back together took some time. The coaches were great in allowing me to get to the place I want to be and I am excited for the second half of the season.”

With his comfort level on the ice rounding back into form, his ultimate level of comfort off the ice in the Windy City was never going to be in doubt. His wife Sarah, and three-year-old son, Henning moved up from Florida to Chicago a month after he was assigned to the Wolves and the Reinprechts are happy to call Chicago home.

“My wife and I are both really happy that I am playing in Chicago,” Reinprecht said. “We both went to college at the University of Wisconsin and after I turned pro, we moved around a lot and we both lost touch with friends and family who stayed in the Midwest after college.

“Chicago is a great city. We are having a lot of fun. Initially it was a tough transition for my wife, she was kind of left picking up some of the pieces because of the move. That is the stuff that really doesn’t get noticed but wives do a lot of work. My wife is an angel. She really did a lot of work, so she is happy to be here and enjoy Chicago.”

Being a family man is something that most AHL players don’t have to deal with since they are mostly young men, still enjoying their early 20s. At 35 years old, Reinprecht has different responsibilities away from the rink than most of the Wolves roster. Only Wolves captain Nolan Baumgartner and Reinprecht have children to raise at home, but being a father is something that Reinprecht takes seriously and enjoys immensely.

“I love being a dad,” Reinprecht said. “I can’t imagine my life without my little guy. It is great having a son, and I hope to add to my family because it is a lot of fun having kids. Especially being able to bring him to the locker room and show him what I do and him understanding it. He is always talking about hockey with me and who we are playing. He knows what dad does and he gets a kick out of seeing me play. There are only so many more years I am able to do this. So for him to be able to see what I do and for him to understand it, it is really cool.

“My life has changed so much since I first started playing pro hockey,” Reinprecht said. “Of course I don’t have as much couch time or free time than I did back then and the younger guys on the Wolves have now, but I wouldn’t change anything. I hear the young guys in the room talk about on an off-day how they laid on the couch for eight hours and watched a couple movies. I am just like, ‘Wait and see.’”

 

Despite the significant off-ice difference, he relishes the fact that he is on this Wolves team and gets to play with the young guns.

“It is funny, I’ll hear some of their music and stories and it takes me back to when I was 20 playing in college,” Reinprecht said. “It makes me feel a little older, but at the same time it makes me feel a little younger as well. All those guys are so young and full of energy it rubs off on you. It is a lot of fun to be around and they are just full of life.”

One thing that Reinprecht has in common with everyone in the Wolves locker room – no matter their age – is the goal of winning the 2012 Calder Cup Championship. A goal he is willing to do anything in order to reach.

“No matter what level I’m playing in, I always want to win a championship.” Reinprecht said. “I want to get into the playoffs and play for that cup. Everyone in the dressing room wants to win a championship. It is the only goal to have and I’ll do whatever I can to help this team win. Whether that is score goals, kill penalties, win faceoffs, whatever it may be. I just want to help the team win and that is my goal this year to win.”

“The toughest part wasn’t knowing a trade was coming, but waiting for it to happen. It was hard on me and my family, waiting to make the transition to a new city and get all settled. When it did happen, I knew what to expect. It really isn’t a big deal after you have been traded once. It is just a matter of making the transition and getting settled in 
a new city.”

Once he was traded to Vancouver, he was assigned to the Wolves. The only problem was the day Reinprecht got traded was also the day he found out that he fractured his foot from blocking a shot in his fifth game as a member of the San Antonio Rampage. Not the start he was looking to make with his new team.

“I found out that my foot was fractured, two hours before I got the trade phone call,” Reinprecht said. “It is tough when you come into a team and instantly you have to sit on the sidelines for a while, but (Wolves general manager) Wendell (Young) and the coaching staff were great about it. They told me to take my time and make sure I am healthy. They wanted me out there when I was 100 percent and not to rush back. It was great to have that kind of support from the organization and even the players. Everybody was great.

“But it was tough. I wanted to be out on the ice playing. That is kind of how you break in with a new team. Start the camaraderie and be part of the dressing room by playing. So it was tough to have to be on the sidelines for a while, but the guys were great and really helped make my transition easier.”

Reinprecht missed 11 Wolves games with his fractured foot, but made his team debut on Nov. 26 and wasted no time making his mark as he dished out two assists in the Wolves 5-3 win over Peoria. The helpers marked his first career American Hockey League points in just his sixth game in the league. Despite posting another four assists over his next seven outings, Reinprecht wasn’t too happy with his play and admittedly was still rounding into game shape those first few outings.

“I don’t think there was much of an adjustment for me from playing in the NHL compared to the AHL,” Reinprecht said. “It was more me being out and it takes so long to get back, but so little to lose what you gained in training camp. You can practice all you want, but once you get back in a game you have to get your timing back and be able to think the game and make the right plays. I think it took a little of that and the conditioning had a bit to do with it.

“All of sudden I am playing three-in-threes, and at the center position it is very physically and cardio demanding. Getting all that back together took some time. The coaches were great in allowing me to get to the place I want to be and I am excited for the second half of the season.”
With his comfort level on the ice rounding back into form, his ultimate level of comfort off the ice in the Windy City was never going to be in doubt. His wife Sarah, and three-year-old son, Henning moved up from Florida to Chicago a month after he was assigned to the Wolves and the Reinprechts are happy to call Chicago home.

“My wife and I are both really happy that I am playing in Chicago,” Reinprecht said. “We both went to college at the University of Wisconsin and after I turned pro, we moved around a lot and we both lost touch with friends and family who stayed in the Midwest after college.

“Chicago is a great city. We are having a lot of fun. Initially it was a tough transition for my wife, she was kind of left picking up some of the pieces because of the move. That is the stuff that really doesn’t get noticed but wives do a lot of work. My wife is an angel. She really did a lot of work, so she is happy to be here and enjoy Chicago.”

Being a family man is something that most AHL players don’t have to deal with since they are mostly young men, still enjoying their early 20s. At 35 years old, Reinprecht has different responsibilities away from the rink than most of the Wolves roster. Only Wolves captain Nolan Baumgartner and Reinprecht have children to raise at home, but being a father is something that Reinprecht takes seriously and enjoys immensely.

“I love being a dad,” Reinprecht said. “I can’t imagine my life without my little guy. It is great having a son, and I hope to add to my family because it is a lot of fun having kids. Especially being able to bring him to the locker room and show him what I do and him understanding it. He is always talking about hockey with me and who we are playing. He knows what dad does and he gets a kick out of seeing me play. There are only so many more years I am able to do this. So for him to be able to see what I do and for him to understand it, it is really cool.

“My life has changed so much since I first started playing pro hockey,” Reinprecht said. “Of course I don’t have as much couch time or free time than I did back then and the younger guys on the Wolves have now, but I wouldn’t change anything. I hear the young guys in the room talk about on an off-day how they laid on the couch for eight hours and watched a couple movies. I am just like, ‘Wait and see.’”

Despite the significant off-ice difference, he relishes the fact that he is on this Wolves team and gets to play with the young guns.

“It is funny, I’ll hear some of their music and stories and it takes me back to when I was 20 playing in college,” Reinprecht said. “It makes me feel a little older, but at the same time it makes me feel a little younger as well. All those guys are so young and full of energy it rubs off on you. It is a lot of fun to be around and they are just full of life.”

One thing that Reinprecht has in common with everyone in the Wolves locker room – no matter their age – is the goal of winning the 2012 Calder Cup Championship. A goal he is willing to do anything in order to reach.

“No matter what level I’m playing in, I always want to win a championship.” Reinprecht said. “I want to get into the playoffs and play for that cup. Everyone in the dressing room wants to win a championship. It is the only goal to have and I’ll do whatever I can to help this team win. Whether that is score goals, kill penalties, win faceoffs, whatever it may be. I just want to help the team win and that is my goal this year to win.”