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In-between morning practice and heading to Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home to visit with children in need, Nashville Predators captain, Roman Josi, sat down with Marley Sherwood at Bridgestone Arena to chat about what’s to come for the Predators in the 2017-2018 season, recently being named captain of the team and how he is giving back to the Nashville community.

By: Marley Sherwood (@marley_sherwood)

Cheers! We’ll have Gatorade since it’s a practice day.

I did get to skate this morning, but I did not get to practice because I am a bit injured right now. It went well. I feel good!

You’re from Switzerland and started playing hockey when you were young. Did you always know your passion for the sport was going to turn into a career?

I started skating when I was 3 and began playing hockey when I was about 4. My older brother was always playing hockey. I would always watch his practices and I told my mom and dad, “Hey, I want to play, too.” I also played soccer, and I actually think when I was about 9 my parents thought I would go for soccer rather than hockey. I’m not sure when I shifted back towards hockey, but I am glad I did.

From Switzerland you went to the Milwaukee Admirals, and now you’ve been in Nashville with the Predators for seven years. What is your favorite thing about this town?

I think the people; they are so friendly. I mean from when I moved here to now, it’s a totally different city. The people have stayed the same though, and I love that. I have met so many friends outside of hockey, too. I think that’s the best part about Nashville. With the renovations to Broadway and all the new restaurants around town, it has become a totally new town recently. It’s awesome!

You guys are coming off a huge season last year making it to the Stanley Cup Finals. What are your thoughts going into this season?

Well, it was obviously a great experience for all of us making it that far last season and seeing this city come together like that in the finals was amazing. But now it’s a new season and we know how hard this league is. Everything starts fresh. We don’t have any advantages this year from going to the finals last season. It will be tough, it was tough last year. There are always ups and downs. We made it as a No. 8 seed in the playoffs last season. The expectations are high for us. They are always high in the room and we are fine with that, but we know how hard to work for it.

A big congratulations is in order for you being named captain of the Predators this year. You served as an assistant captain under Shea Weber and Mike Fisher last year. After watching the way they led the team, what do you think will be your leadership mentality? Are you serious and stern or are you more of a fun, get pumped-up leader?

I think both ways! I definitely like to have fun, but I also know when it’s time to be serious. I think something I learned from Shea and Mike is that they always led by example. Every time they stepped on the ice, or wherever they were, they were the hardest working guys. If the captain is the hardest working guy then that is a good sign. Your team will work hard if the captain is working hard. That is one of the best things I learned from those guys.

That is a great mentality to have. I have to throw this out there… I’m from Chicago so that does make me a Blackhawks fan.

You said you’ve been here a few years now. Still a Blackhawks fan, though?

I’ve adopted the Preds as my second team and I will support y’all. I know it’s always a big game when Chicago comes to Nashville. Is there a team that you’re excited to play every time?

Chicago is honestly one of those teams for sure. We are both in the Central Division, so we play them a lot. The atmosphere is always great for those games! When we play in Chicago the atmosphere there is so great and when we play them at home there’s always a ton of Blackhawks fans, too. I think the people in Nashville love those games against the Blackhawks. They are just always fun games. We get excited. I would say if we did have a rivalry, Chicago would be on the top of that list. We are going to have to get you to the other side.

Your family is still in Switzerland. Do they visit you often?

Yeah. I obviously miss them a lot, but they do make it over for games about once a year. My dad was over about three times during the playoffs. My brother came and stayed for three months so that was awesome. He loves Nashville. He wants to move here.

I don’t think I have ever met anyone who has visited Nashville and doesn’t want to move here.

Yeah, my whole family wants to come here. They have gotten to know the city pretty well now from visiting for the past few years.

Hockey players have a pretty demanding schedule. What do you like to do when you have a day off?

Relax. I like to brunch in the morning. Nashville has great brunch spots. Normally we have Sundays off so it’s nice to brunch and come home, relax, cook dinner and just have the day off to pretty much do nothing and watch TV.

Are you binge watching any shows right now?

I’m watching “This Is Us” right now.

Have you been crying during every episode?

Almost. I am so close to tearing up. It is such a great show!

Do you have a pregame ritual that you follow?

For our home games we lunch at the same spot, Giovanni Ristorante. We will eat, then nap for a couple hours, then wake up and try to get pumped up for the game that night.

Does the team have a go-to locker room playlist?

Last year during playoffs we really blasted “Glorious Domination” a lot. I love that song. I don’t really know my favorite song right now. I listen to whatever is new. I am the person that always listens to songs way too much and then I get sick of them and have to find a new one.

Nashville is Music City and big country stars are always at your games. Are you a fan of country music and do you have any favorite artists?

I love country music. I went to Sam Hunt’s show the other day. He puts on a great show. Dierks Bentley is awesome. It’s so amazing that all these huge stars are coming out to games. The artists are so supportive. 

One of the things I admire about you is that you are a huge advocate for giving back to the Nashville community. Best Buddies is one of the organizations you have teamed up with. What does it mean to you to give back to others?

It really is just a lot of fun! I got into Best Buddies when Barry Trotz was here. He really helped them get started in Nashville. I went to a couple of Best Buddies galas and Shea [Weber] and Pekka [Rinne] had a best buddy named Mike. He would always come to the locker room and he was always so excited to see us and we were so excited to see him. So, I went to a few more galas and I let them know I would really like to team up with them and become a part of the organization to give back to the community. Honestly, it is really giving me something back. You think you are going into this to give back to the kids, which you do, but in return I am getting so much more out of this just by seeing their faces. I had an event with these kids at their school the other day and they were maybe 6 to 10 years old. I had a blast! They are so happy and excited to see you. Best Buddies is such a great program. I can’t say enough about them.

From your Instagram posts alone you can see how much they make you smile and laugh. Speaking of laughing, who on the team would you crown as the biggest jokester?

Ha! Well, we don’t pick a lot of pranks on the road, but I would say P.K. [Subban] is the biggest jokester. He likes to have a lot of fun. He is pretty funny, but he knows when it’s time to be serious and when it’s time to joke around. He is one of those guys who is always smiling and I love it. He is a ton of fun to be around, even when we lose a game we will come in the next day and P.K. is making us laugh and have fun again.

Has there been a moment in your life that has set you back in any way? 

I really can’t complain with much. I have had very fortunate opportunities so far. The first year I came over from Switzerland I broke my wrist in camp. It was a big setback. I was coming over to the States for the first time and broke my wrist in the second practice. I never looked at it with a negative outlook. That stuff is going to happen as an athlete. You will have injuries, but I have been very lucky. I cannot complain. The best thing to do in any setback is just to stay positive and come back stronger than before.

You are known for your sense of fashion off the ice. P.K. Subban is as well. Are you collaborating with him at all on his fashion line or do you just do it for fun?

No, I just do it for fun! I am a big sweater guy, though. Actually, I go through phases where I buy a lot of shoes. I am really into hoodies now. I buy a lot of hoodies.

I am a sneaker junkie. I own more Jordans than I probably should.

Oh really?! They are sick. I am big on sneakers. Any kind of shoes really. We always wear suits for games so it’s nice to dress up beforehand.

You guys are all so put together before the game and then you hit the ice and you’re completely different… rugged, missing teeth.

I have been pretty lucky to not have lost any of my teeth so far. I lost half a tooth but not as bad as some of the other guys.

Who was someone you looked up to as a role model growing up?

If we are talking the NHL, I was always a huge fan of Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche. We did not get all the games in Switzerland, so we could not really watch the live games but obviously they were pretty good against the Red Wings back in the day. I would always watch Joe Sakic. When I got older I loved watching Mark Streit. He was one of the first Swiss players that wasn’t a goalie to actually “make it” in the NHL. He really opened a lot of doors for us and he was someone I looked up to for sure.

If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?

Probably Roger Federer. Huge Roger Federer fan. He is Swiss! I have met him a couple times and he is just a really interesting person. He is the humblest guy you could ever meet and he is a hero in Switzerland. Everybody would be watching every Sunday when he would play in the finals. If he lost, our week would be over. We would cry for a couple of days. We are all just huge fans!

His family is so adorable, too. I mean, two sets of twins. Come on!

That is insane. Only Roger could do that.

Jordan Merrigan Photography

For more information on Best Buddies click here.

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