By Brian Metzer
Daniel Winnik was interviewed on TSN 1050 in Toronto shortly after finding out that he had been traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He pretty much knocked it out of the park when asked what the first thing that popped into his mind was upon hearing the news.
“A chance to win the Stanley Cup,” Winnik said. “I mean you got Crosby and Malkin. I think they’ve got a chance to win the Stanley Cup every year and I’m looking forward to help that cause.”
The move was a bit bittersweet for Winnik in that he is a hometown kid. He is a Toronto native and was getting the chance to play for the team he grew up rooting for.
That is something that many people never get a chance to do and it had him waxing a bit nostalgic when he was asked what his lasting memory of his time in Toronto would be.
“It’s tough in a sense,” he said. “I’ve had some personal success but ultimately you want team success and ultimately we didn’t get the job done this year for whatever reason. I think to be on the wrong side of some records for the Leafs is a little disappointing.”
That doesn’t mean that his time in Toronto was bad.
“I enjoyed it for sure,” Winnik said. “I will never forget the experience. I’m extremely happy to have played for my hometown Toronto maple leafs and even to have worn an ‘A’ even if just for one game in Carolina. That’s a big part of career because I’ve never worn a letter before. A lot of good memories about this place.”
One drawback of playing in a hockey hotbed like Toronto is the fact that the media presence is even bigger than it is in other large cities. That has a mic and a reporter in your face asking about rumors almost daily.
Winnik seemed to handle that situation better than most, saying that the fact that he’d been through it before really helped he cause.
“It hasn’t been that bad,” Winnik said. “I think I handled the rumors and stuff really well having been through it before. I said last week that I was approaching every game as my last with the Leafs and that helped me manage with all the rumors just expecting it to come any day. Sometimes the stress levels kind of high, but that just comes with this game.”
Some experts around the league had Winnik connected to the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens. The Penguins were rumored to be involved in the situation for the better part of a month, with news initially breaking on Jan. 27, the night they acquired Maxim Lapierre.
Winnik is excited about the opportunity to compete for a Stanley Cup, but he was also happy that he wouldn’t have to chase Crosby and Malkin around the rink anymore.
“Yeah, it used to be my job to try and shut them down. I don’t think I did too great of a job of it the last two years. It will be nice to help them score as opposed to keeping them off the scoresheet.”