Nate Thompson has been one of the Lightning's most reliable and versatile players the past two seasons, earning the nickname "Textbook" for seemingly always being in the right spot. The Anchorage, Alaska, native is active outdoors (including fishing around a bunch of bears back home) and on Twitter (@natethompson44). Thompson, who turned 27 Wednesday, sat down with the St. Petersburg Times staff writer Joe Smith to discuss his offseason travels overseas, his favorite road-trip partner and singing like Sinatra.
You went to Ireland with teammate Teddy Purcell in the offseason. Where did you go?
Dublin. … Going to Europe is so much different. I will say over there the people were so friendly, they went out of their way, told us where to go, where to stay away from and everything.
Where else have you traveled overseas?
I've been overseas to (the Czech Republic) and Germany, but that was for hockey for some USA team when I was 17, 18. (This offseason) was the only (trip) I had really taken for leisure. It was a lot of fun, and I'd like to go back to Europe again.
You spend a lot of your summer in Minnesota training. Been to the Mall of America?
Been there a few times. It's pretty touristy.
Been on the Paul Bunyan log ride?
Long time ago. When I was 13, 14. Haven't been on it since. It's a good time when you're 14 (laughs).
And you drove back to Florida from Minnesota with your dog (Diesel, a black Lab), right? How was that?
It was about 24, 25 hours. I went the first day … 18 hours, just got in the zone, listened to some book CDs — those take six, seven hours. … Pack up coolers of water and drinks, and another cooler of food, and just get on the open road. The rest is history.
And how was Diesel traveling?
Back seat. And he sleeps the whole way. He's probably the best traveler anybody could have asked for. He doesn't talk back, so that's kind of nice. He's a great traveler. Every time I had to stop, he stopped and then hopped right back and ready to go.
So more bathroom breaks for you?
I had to stop more than he did.
How long have you had him?
(He's) 7. … (He has) the same birthday as me, which is pretty funny. He's a good dog. I don't mind sharing it with him.
You participated in batting practice with some Lightning teammates at Tropicana Field this summer. You're a baseball fan. What's your favorite stadium?
Wrigley Field. It's the greatest. I've always loved Chicago. Of all the big cities — New York, Boston — I think Chicago is my favorite. … And going to Wrigley, I don't know what it is, it's kind of in (a) neighborhood. I loved it.
Where else have you been?
Yankee Stadium, Safeco Field, Fenway. Haven't been to Camden Yards. Been to all the major big ones.
If you could be onstage with any band, which one would it be?
I'd like to go on stage with Pearl Jam. That'd be awesome, sing with Eddie Vedder.
You sing karaoke?
I do karaoke. My sister got married Labor Day weekend. She had a DJ and karaoke, so I did a couple songs.
Obviously, if you do some country songs, it's always easier to sing. But I did some Frank Sinatra, too. If you do (Sinatra), New York, New York, or I've Got the World on a String. I like Frank. I'm a big Frank Sinatra fan.
Favorite childhood TV show?
I've always been a big fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I've watched all the movies, had all the toys. I had everything.
What was the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?
I think everyone goes with Michelangelo cause he's funny. He was always the fun one.
You said you're never too old to dress up for Halloween. What's the favorite costume that you've worn?
Growing up, my favorite one is my favorite superhero. Superman. He's the best superhero. He can fly. He's strong. He's the man.
But is he "textbook"?
(Laughs). I think he's pretty textbook. He doesn't really mess up too much.