Steve Zalewski has tallied 100-plus objectives as knowledgeable hockey participant. In the present day, the New Hartford native has traded his sticks and skates for a instrument belt.
There aren’t any regrets or second-guessing the choice.
Understanding that every part has a starting and an finish, Zalewski loved the trip. Though being referred to as up from the AHL Worcester Sharks throughout the 2009-’10 season to make his NHL debut with San Jose (3 video games), and tasting hockey’s “Better of the Finest” two seasons later with the New Jersey Devils (7) video games, the routine was at all times the identical for this Clarkson College graduate.
There was little Zalewski was in command of. Being traded, when to be on the bus for highway journeys, what time to point out for morning skates, being on a good schedule was commonplace however the norm. That was then. After skating in his final sport in 2018 in Germany with the Straubing Tigers, Zalewski and his spouse had been prepared for the subsequent chapter of their lives.
By alternative, the Zalewskis returned to the Mohawk Valley.
Becoming a member of the household contracting enterprise of Kershaw & Zalewski got here pure for the former professional who’s profession included skating two seasons in Finland.
“I assume so,” Zalewski explains of his comfortability being round a piece web site. “I used to be uncovered to (contracting) at a younger age. My brothers saved me busy with instruments round the home. After some time I immersed myself into studying the enterprise.”
Six seasons break up between AHL cities Albany and Worcester, a half dozen seasons in Europe, setting down roots was more and more being talked about by the Zalewskis. With each being from the Mohawk Valley, and with when Liane Zalewski’s profession alternative allowed for her to work remotely, there could be not be a lot debate on the place to arrange everlasting residency.
“We purchased a house right here after I was nonetheless taking part in,” Zalewski mentioned earlier this week throughout a phone dialog. “We knew we needed to be near our households, after being away for therefore lengthy.”
Earlier than home looking domestically, Zalewski, drafted 153rd general within the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by San Jose, confides that Boston and “close to” New York Metropolis had been thought of.
However, together with working within the household enterprise, as soon as a hockey participant, at all times a hockey participant. Zalewski has two youngsters (son & daughter). Though, at occasions, Zalewski might really feel far faraway from the sport, seeing his 5-year-old son already taking an curiosity in being on skates brings him again to the place the longer term might lie.
“My subsequent (hockey) chapter is to teach my son. However, for now, I nonetheless play in a males’s league in New Hartford and in Whitesboro.”
After the buzzer sounded in 2018, in Zalewski’s remaining sport with the Tigers, the 10-year professional knew it will be his final.
“To be sincere, I used to be prepared to return residence. There was at all times quite a bit happening, in on the brink of depart for the subsequent season. That was the hardest half – leaving,” mentioned Zalewski.
Lacking the competitiveness that hockey introduced Zalewski continues to be one thing the previous professional is figuring out of his system. The boys’s league video games are serving to alleviate this – slowly. Zalewski tells of being off his skates for 18 months in latest occasions, which is the longest break ever from being on the ice for him.
“I felt just a little awkward,” Zalewski admits. ” As a professional, one or two days off the ice, and I felt rusty.”
Via hockey, Steve and Laine shared many bonuses in life. Touring abroad is on the prime of their checklist. Experiencing the totally different cultures is a present that carry on giving. Through the 2017-18 season in Germany, Zalewski was given the chance to be a teammate of his youthful brother Mike. With all their school and professional seasons, that is the primary and solely time the brothers could be suiting up in the identical locker room.
“Mike’s six years youthful than me,” recollects Zalewski of that particular season within the Germany league.
Skating in Germany had some variations from the NHL, or AHL for that matter, for Zalewski to heat as much as. All of Straubing’s video games had been performed in Germany. The longest bus trip, in line with Zalewski, was about 9 hours. With a lighter schedule than might be anticipated with the NHL and AHL, the frequent breaks allotted for extra time for the physique to restoration from in-game accidents.
However, between wanting again to engaged on studying totally different languages whereas touring round Europe, and residing and taking part in in Albany with fellow Mohawk Valley hockey standouts Tim Sestito and Nick Palmieri, there isn’t any fog when remembering how the decision got here informing Zalewski that he was NHL sure.
“I used to be with Worcester. We (Sharks) had been headed to a workforce constructing journey someplace up the coast in Maine. It is 5:00 a.m., and I discover out that I am not going to the abandoned island,” Zalewski laughs. “I will be taking a flight to satisfy with San Jose.”
Between work and household, Zalewski does life’s balancing necessities remarkably properly, and nonetheless manages to work in a few of his former occupation on TV. He caught among the latest NHL Jap Convention Finals, in addition to a sampling of the Stanley Cup Finals. As for attending video games, and being a part of the cheering galley, for now, Zalewski is leaning in the direction of attending Utica Comets’ video games. Two years earlier, Steve and Liane introduced their son to his first Comets video games.
For now, it is a exhausting hat as a substitute of a helmet, and skates have been changed by work boots. There is no such thing as a doubt that that in his “second profession”, Zalewski will proceed to guide, be an incredible teammate, and never be on the lookout for recognition whereas doing so. That is what hockey 101 teaches.
Don Laible is a contract sportswriter residing within the Mohawk Valley. He has reported on skilled baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the internet because the 1980’s. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don might be contacted through e-mail at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com.
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