Quick Hits with sophomore defenseman Zach Werenski
It’s been roughly a month since the inaugural edition of Quick Hits, but now it’s time for round two.
The Daily caught up with sophomore defenseman Zach Werenski to discuss reindeer, the dab and the time he spent in Finland for the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships.
The Michigan Daily: We haven’t had a chance to talk to you much about World Juniors. What was the experience of going overseas like?
Zach Werenski: It was unbelievable. You hear so much about it, and for me, at 17, I only went overseas once — to Sweden. It was only my second time overseas and I was there for almost a month. It’s just unbelievable to be there. You get so comfortable staying in a different country.
TMD: Did you have a lot of down time to go sightseeing?
Werenski: Yeah, every off day we had a day to do whatever we wanted. We went down to Helsinki, go walk around, go shopping, stuff like that. It was awesome.
TMD: Any favorite moments or a favorite part of the city?
Werenski: Just being there with all your friends, just walking around and seeing (Finland’s) culture.
TMD: How was the food?
Werenski: (Pause) Different. I’m not going to say it’s not good, but it took us a while to get used to it — a lot of pasta.
TMD: You’ve been picking it up defensively — which you have always said is one of the strengths of your game — since you’ve come back from World Juniors. Did you learn anything over there, or is it just a matter-of-time sort of thing?
Werenski: I think I just came back with a lot of confidence. I thought I went over there and played well, against the supposedly best players in the world. It was definitely a confidence booster. For me, just learning from Chelios, who was the D coach, the little things he points out helped me a ton. I’m coming back with a lot of confidence.
TMD: You’re getting a lot of love for the celebrations. What inspires them?
Werenski: I don’t really know. Well, the violin was Carl Hagelin. He did that in The Big Chill. I thought that playing Michigan State here at home, it’s the closest thing I’ll get to The Big Chill this year. That’s why I did it. I don’t know if coach liked it too much, he made a comment about it.
TMD: You have any other ones (coming up)?
Werenski: I’ve been thinking. Weinstein put me on the spot with a tweet saying, “What’s next?” I’m thinking of something to do next.
TMD: Are the guys giving you any hate for it? They seem to prefer the fist pump.
Werenski: No, I think none of the guys have a problem with it. I think I’m the only one that’s really gone overboard and done something different than just a fist pump, but I think the guys like it.
TMD: Hey, a goal is a goal right?
Werenski: Yeah. Enjoy it.
TMD: What about the dab? Did you take it from Cam or was it spur of the moment?
Werenski: I learned that from Cam Newton, and then when I went to World Juniors, I wanted to take it overseas. I told the guys that as a joke. I never thought I’d actually score in the Canada game. When I did, I said, “I’ve got to do it now.”
TMD: Just to go back to Finland — you talked about the food. What’s the weirdest thing you tried over there?
Werenski: Reindeer probably.
TMD: That’s gamey. Was it gamey?
Werenski: I don’t even know. It just said reindeer on (the menu). Maybe the name threw me off and I didn’t want to eat it, but it was all right.
TMD: Talk about Christmas spirit, huh?
Werenski: (Laughs) Yeah, seriously.
TMD: Any guys there give you crap for your American accent?
Werenski: No, I don’t think so. Most people over there speak broken English, but I didn’t really hear anyone say I had an accent.
TMD: Did you hear any weird phrases typical to Finland?
Werenski: I only learned one phrase in Finland. It was thank you — “kiitos.” It’s all I learned. It’s the most common thing there, to say thank you to everything.
The Daily caught sophomore forward Dexter Dancs coming off the ice to find out if it’s actually true that the team is enjoying Werenski’s latest celebration tactics.
TMD: How does everyone feel about Werenski’s celebrations lately?
Dancs: About his Hagelin (impression)? (Laughs) We were having a lot of fun with that. He did the dab a couple weeks ago, and we were kind of giving it to him, like, “What are you going to come up with next?” And he came up with (the violin). I wish I had the skill to do that.
TMD: I saw you called him “Captain Dab” on Twitter. Is that sarcasm or giving him some love?
Dancs: I was just kind of giving it to him. He’s such a good player, he can do things like that. We’re really excited he’s back.
TMD: Do you have any suggestions for the next celebration?
Dancs: I have no suggestions. I’m sure he’s going to come up with something.
TMD: You have anything planned? You’ve been scoring.
Dancs: No, no, no. I’m just going to stick to hands up in the air.