Growing up in Jesenice, Slovenia:
It was a hockey town, so it wasn’t really tough for me to get into hockey. My dad already played hockey so I went with him to the rink a bunch of times, skated after their practices a bunch of times. That was pretty cool.
You were 4 yrs old when Slovenia declared its independence in 1991, there was a lot of economic and political change, and hockey is such an expensive sport. Do you think you would have had the same opportunities to play hockey, back then, if your father had not been a professional hockey player himself?
That would have been tough, but it’s hard to say. I guess all my family was pretty orientated in sports: my mom was a figure skater, my grandpa was a basketball player, and my grandma was a good basketball player. So, yes, I do think all of that definitely helped, plus having my dad in the hockey world, already, allowed me to have the opportunity to start playing.
Go back to age 16/17 in Slovenia; 3 scouts approach you. One American, one Canadian, and one Swedish. They all say, “Come train/play with us,” which do you choose, if you have do it all over again, and why?
(Looks at me quite intriguingly and curiously) If I have to do it all over again, I would choose the same exact path; I would chose going to Sweden. I made the right decisions, obviously, along the way, and it’s brought me here.
What will be the emotions for you playing in the Olympics alongside your brother, Gašper, with your dad, Matjaž, as coach of team Slovenia?
(He pauses, takes a deep breath, and his face lights up.) If that can happen, it’s going to be the ultimate experience. It’s probably going to be right up there with winning the [Stanley Cup] Championship. It’s gonna be pretty cool. It’s one of those things where, when you’re older and you stop playing, you look back and think about it. That’s going to be a pretty special moment (he has a genuine smile on his face).
How is Slovenian hockey like now, with HK Acroni Jesenice (Acroni Jesenice Hockey Club) having been dissolved?
You know what, it’s been tough. We’re definitely missing that team. Hopefully that’s going to change pretty soon and we’re going to put together a nice team again.
What’s your favorite food to cook, other than palacinke (“palachinkay”) (pancakes)?
(Laughing) I like making different kinds of risottos, either with vegetables or chicken with mushrooms, a variety of things.