Minnesota Hockey Journal

March 2017

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Page 9 of 31

10 MHJ // You're teammates with another Minnesota defenseman, Paul Martin. Why do you think Minnesota produces so many solid D-men? Braun // That's a good question. They seem to pump them up pretty good. He's one of the steadiest guys I've played with night in and night out. He's a fun guy to watch. I learn some stuff from him. There are quite a few Minnesota guys if you look at the Olympics and world tournaments. There are a lot of Minnesota defensemen out there, so we must be doing something right. MHJ // How would you describe the hockey culture in Minnesota? Braun // It's great. You just look at the rinks in the winter and kids skating out there and that's what I grew up doing—going to the pond and the lake. It's great to go back there when I get a chance during the season, and just seeing how much fun people have and how much pride they take in their hockey. My dad still follows White Bear Lake and the Gophers. A lot of people have that same enthusiasm about it night in and night out. MHJ // Do you ever make it back to Minnesota during the offseason? Braun // I've got a place up in Centerville. Me and the family go there in the summer and spend a few months. We get to enjoy the lake and the mosquitos. I still enjoy going back there and seeing all my high school buddies and family and friends. MHJ // Do you still follow White Bear high school hockey or come back for games? Braun // Back in college, I used to get back to the Christmas tournament, but lately I haven't had as much time to follow too much. My dad calls me and gives me updates, tells me what's going on there. He's usually the one for keeping me in the loop. MHJ // Ever think about life after hockey? Braun // Every once in a while, but I haven't come up with a very solid plan yet. Hopefully within the next few years I'll come up with one. It's tough to figure out where you're going to be. My wife's from Georgia so it's a little complicated where we're going to be tied down. I don't know if she's feeling the winters too much, so we might have to find a neutral spot. MHJ // Is there a piece of advice you've received that really sticks out to you? Braun // Just to enjoy it every day. The privilege of playing NHL, and being able to come to work and play a game is truly a blessing that just a few of us get to have. You've just got to enjoy it— that's the biggest thing. Someday it'll be over. M I N N E S OTA H O C K E YJ O U R N A L . CO M // MARCH.2017 Q&A PHOTOS: GETTY IMAGES, THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS, BRAUN FAMILY QUICK HITS ANY HIDDEN TALENTS? I always tell my wife it's backgammon because I beat her at that all the time. FAVORITE HOCKEY ROAD TRIP? I always enjoy going to Nashville. It's a pretty cool city and they have live bands all day. It's my favorite spot to go on all of our road trips. FAVORITE ARENA? The United Center. You get the anthem going and packed house every night. And you get to play the Blackhawks. That's gotta be my favorite. ANY NICKNAMES? Brauner or Bronco. MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT? [Pavel] Datsyuk walked around me pretty good. It turned out to be one of the top goals of the year. I got a lot of texts about that. Made the goal of the year. That was a little embarrassing. You've also got the odd time when you leave your skate guards on and you walk on the ice and fall down. DID YOU PLAY ANY OTHER SPORTS AS A KID OR IN SCHOOL? I did play JV soccer for a year, but that didn't turn out too well. I had never played soccer before, but all my buddies were playing, so I tried out and made the team. I also played baseball. Turns out I wasn't good at baseball either. INTERVIEW WITH JUSTIN BRAUN Braun tallied 23 goals and 65 assists during his four-year career at UMass.

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