David Steckel was acquired by the Ducks from the Maple Leafs on March 15 for Ryan Lasch and a seventh round pick. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)
With Kevin Kennedy
My earliest hockey memories are very unique. I played my first two years of hockey on an outdoor rink because we didn’t have an indoor arena in my hometown of Westbend, Wisconsin. My parents were very instrumental in getting me involved in hockey, but I was also very influenced by a babysitter I had during my elementary school days. The family that took care of me after school had a kid that was very involved in hockey and he always had to take Friday’s off school to go to tournaments so I would always go with him. I kind of got in to it the following year and haven’t stopped since.
Sometime around bantam age I joined a ‘AAA’ team out of Milwaukee until around midget when I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to play with the U.S. Development Team. I was 16 at the time and I billeted with a really nice local family and I have some great memories from that time. I actually still talk with them to this day on a regular basis.
Getting invited to play for the U.S. Development Team was also the first time I realized I had a shot at playing in the NHL. Once I got on that team, scholarship offers started coming in and playing professionally seemed more realistic than before. That team had a handful of future NHLers such as R.J Umberger, Ryan Kesler, Mike Komisarek and Brett Lebda.
I ended up going to Ohio State University and studied international business. Going to school was a great decision for me and it’s definitely beneficial to have that piece of paper after graduating, but after working as a professional athlete it’s hard to imagine working a 9-to-5 job. I’d much rather do something with my hands and do it on my own time.
Outside of the rink, I played a ton of other sports including golf, baseball and soccer. I tell kids today to play every sport they can and try and become a complete athlete instead of specializing in one sport. I’d love to spend more time playing other sports these days, but my daughter takes up all my time now, though I do sneak out on the golf course every once in a while.