When he’s not on the ice helping the New York Rangers, center Mika Zibanejad likes to keep busy. Coming off the team’s fifth straight home win, the Rangers were given a day off this past Sunday. Zibanejad decided to spend it shoe shopping and he invited this SI Kids Kid Reporter to tag along.
At the sneaker store, Zibanejad struggled to choose, but ultimately decided on a design featuring the New York City skyline—a tribute to the place he calls home these days. “I love living and playing in New York,” he says. “I’m so lucky to play here. I have great teammates and great coaches. I love everything about this city.”
The 25-year-old former first-round pick has enjoyed playing in New York so much that he can now look back and laugh at the unfortunate timing of his trade from the Ottawa Senators in 2016.
“When I was on the Senators, I spent all my days off meeting with architects because I was building a house,” he says. “I put a lot of time into it....Finally, when it was done, I was really excited and I just couldn’t wait to live in the house after all the work that went into it. But a week later, I got traded.”
With the benefit of perspective, the Swedish-born pivot came to a solution: “It taught me what to do next and that is to just build a dream home in Sweden. When you think about it, I’m not going to be traded from Sweden.”
Mika Zibanejad and Kid Reporter Christopher John
Zibanejad says he enjoys getting involved in projects. For him, it is a way for him to focus his energies on things that he is passionate about. One of his biggest passions is music. “I enjoy composing,” he says. “I’ve already written and produced three songs.”
When he’s not writing music, shopping for shoes, or designing his dream home, Zibanejad enjoys watching soccer. He dyed streaks of his dark hair blond in honor of Lionel Messi, one of his favorite players. He also keeps up with the latest news about his beloved Manchester United. And when he has the time, he will indulge his love for gaming by playing FIFA. “I play FIFA and Fortnite,” he says. “But I’m slowly getting worse at Fortnite.”
On the ice, however, Zibanejad seems to be quickly getting better. Through 21 games, he has seven goals and 10 assists. That 0.81 points per game pace so far would be the best of his career. He credits first-year head coach David Quinn for his ability to communicate to the players. “He has a system that everyone buys into, and the team is doing very well.” He also credits his good start to a strong work ethic and commitment to staying fit and healthy. When the season is done, he says he will be happy to have a nice home to go back to in Sweden. But he hopes it won’t be until some time in the end of June!
Photo credit: John McCreary/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images (Rangers); Courtesy of Christopher John (Zibanejad and Christopher)