In 2001, the Carolina Hurricanes drafted center Mike Zigomanis (2nd round, 46th overall). The North York, Ontario native played in 57 contests with the Canes, and once a Cane, always a Cane according to dedicated Caniacs. (Except Erik Cole, I’m still bitter over that one.) Zigomanis is currently on a one-year, two-way contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The decorated forward boasts an OHL William Hanley Trophy (Most Gentlemanly Player) from 2000, a bronze medal from his efforts with Team Canada in the 2001 World Juniors, and the 2009 Stanley Cup Championship with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Mostly recently, #26 led the Toronto Marlies with 47 points (14g, 33a) in 64 games in the 2010-11 season. I had the pleasure of interviewing this talented player on everything from hockey to veganism, and Skinner to Golden Girls. That’s right, we covered it all…
KP Kelly: You have a history with the Canes Mike, so do you have a favorite memory from your time with the organization?
Mike Zigomanis: Ron Francis retirement night, that was kind of cool. I got to play in that game. It was kind of my first NHL team, so the whole experience was memorable, like bringing my family down when I first made the lineup.
KP: Since we’re talking Canes I have to ask, what do you think of Jeff Skinner?
MZ: He is a great player. He is fast, sees the ice well, he’s got good hands. Pretty good way to start your NHL career.
KP: Yes, I agree. Big Jeff Skinner fan! (I said this with a little too much excitement.)
MZ: (laughs) Oh yeah, what would you do if I got you a date with Jeff Skinner?
KP: I would throw up and pass out, but not necessarily in that order. (I managed to get the giggles out and collect myself enough to continue.)
KP: You led in points for the Marlies last season, so what can Ziggy fans expect from you this year?
MZ: A little bit of the same, you know, it’s not something I look at…if I’m a high scorer for the Marlies. It’s all about trying to make the playoffs as a team. We were close last year just couldn’t quite hold on. We had some players come back, but we are still going to be one of the youngest teams in the league. Fun playing with the young guys and watching them develop.
KP: So, let’s chat diet. You have been working towards being a vegan for roughly four years. Was there a day that you just decided to go veg?
MZ: Yeah, I was in Jacksonville, Florida golfing with my buddy. I wasn’t really eating any meat or seafood and he asked why I wouldn’t just stop all together. It made sense, so I eventually stopped.
KP: Do any coaches worried about your nutrition?
MZ: I’m sure if I don’t have a couple good games, they may question it. I did a good job of keeping it a secret for four years, but I don’t mind now, so it’s out.
KP: Did your family have a hard time with your diet change?
MZ: Not really, my mom is vegan now. Vegetarian lifestyle is in my immediate family, so it’s good.
KP: So who gave you the hardest time about being vegan?
MZ: The guys in the room.
KP: Do they still give you a hard time?
MZ: Yeah, I just slap’em around a little. (laughs)
KP: Do you like to cook and prepare your meals?
MZ: Yeah, I love to cook.
KP: If you had your own vegan restaurant, what would be on the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
MZ: Let’s see, for breakfast I would make oatmeal with crushed flax seed, raw agave, walnuts, pine nuts, chopped up banana, raisins with a splash of almond milk. Also a bowl of berries, with probiotic vegan yogurt. Add a smoothie with pineapple, mango, orange, grapefruit, peach, apple, pear with couple scoops of Vega Sport Pre-workout mix with coconut water and protein powder.
KP: That is just one meal?!
MZ: Yeah, that is my breakfast. For lunch, a spinach salad with pecans, honey mustard salad dressing, beans nuts, cucumber ,tomatoes, kalamata olives, strawberries, and a seed melody. Dinner would be pasta with spicy garlic tomato sauce, extra firm tofu. I’d make tofu with sesame and coconut oil with tamari on it, then grill it, and place on top of pasta. Side of lentil soup probably.
(At this point I feel like the worst vegan ever. I throw a Boca spicy chicken patty in the microwave for 90 seconds and call it a meal. Hi, my name is KP and I am a junkatarian.)
KP: So how did you start, did you use cook books?
MZ: Kinda picked it up. My sisters give me ideas and I go online. I’m actually in talks right now with a publishing company about doing a book. A vegan writer asked me if I wanted to co-author a book with her, so we are working on putting something together.
KP: Very cool! Keep us posted. I’ve also heard you can play an instrument or two, so if you weren’t playing hockey would you rather be a professional chef or musician?
MZ: I’d probably be a musician, for sure. I would love to be like an open mic type guy, that guy that plays every Sunday at the local pub.
KP: OK, time for a random game. Since you are so good at taking faceoffs, I thought I could drop at word at you and you have to slap back the very first word that comes to mind. No hesitations. Here we go…
KP: Music… MZ: Harmony (laughter from both) That is the first thing that came to my mind!
KP: Twitter… MZ: Harmony (more laughter)
KP: This is going horribly wrong. MZ: Ok…connecting.
KP: Teammates… MZ: Commitment
KP: Fans… MZ: Love
KP: Golden Girls… MZ: Golden Girls, as in the TV Show?! Golden Girls, like Betty whatever?! I’ve never seen it.
(I tell Mr. Z that I am sending him Golden Girls DVD’s and he is to watch them all.)
MZ: I am not watching Golden Girls, there is zero chance of that happening.
KP: Fine. Moving on…Family… MZ: Holy smokes, one word?! You can’t do one word. I guess support.
KP: Prank… MZ: Plank?! As in ‘walk the plank?!’
KP: (laughing) No, that is not what I said, but go ahead and go with that…Plank. MZ: Wood.
Well…that seems like the perfect way to end this entertaining interview. Thank you very much Mr. Mike Zigomanis for taking the time to chat with me. I must note his patience in organizing this interview as our schedules proved very difficult to manage. He never gave up on me, even when I was forced to cancel on him…twice. Grazie!
Until Friday’s preview of the HURRICANES’ HOME FREAK’IN OPENER, enjoy some of my favorite Ziggy clips…