D Matt Smaby said he was a power-hitting first baseman/catcher in high school and even led his team in home runs as a junior before a broken wrist playing hockey as a senior ended his career on the diamond.
There is not much to compare between the sports, Smaby said, but there is this: Hitting a baseball with the sweet spot of the bat is like getting hold of a puck on a slap shot. "When you catch them pure, the (puck) and a baseball, it almost feels like you're hitting nothing," he said. "It's satisfying. You don't even have to check where it's going. You know. Even a slap shot, you know when you catch (the puck). You know where it's going."
This game is aces
It's not surprising that C Dominic Moore, growing up in Thornhill, Ontario, played tennis only in the summer. It's a bit more surprising that he turned it into part of his offseason training program.
"It's kind of the perfect sport for cross-training for hockey because of the lateral movement and the similar kind of athletic maneuvers," Moore said. "I love the sport as much as hockey and still watch it whenever I can, too."
His favorite players?
I used to be a huge (Andre) Agassi fan," Moore said. "I like (Rafael) Nadal, but Roger (Federer) is my favorite guy right now."
LW Mattias Ritola went to his first baseball game in the summer of 2005 shortly after he was drafted in the fourth round by the Red Wings. Sitting in a suite with his fellow Detroit draftees, the Swede said the game was difficult to follow. "I didn't get it at all," Ritola said. "They tried to explain why he was hitting there, why that guy was running there. I just didn't get it. I almost fell asleep."
Has he come to appreciate the game?
"Actually," he said, "no, not really."
Quote to note
"It's the best game in the world. There are so many variations. You have to think five, six turns ahead. Sometimes you lose your pawns and you're screwed and the other guy has got you, but there is a way out, and I love that. Everything happens as a result of you thinking about it or not thinking about it. You have total responsibility."
Lightning coach Guy Boucher, on chess
5 questions | LW Johan Harju
What do you like most about the U.S.?
The weather here. It's great.
How cold can it get in Sweden?
Minus-30 (Celsius), with about 1 meter (39 inches) of snow.
Do you watch much television?
Mostly sports. I'm trying to learn football a little bit.
What sports do you watch back home?
I miss soccer. In Europe soccer is really big.
Do you have an appreciation for baseball?
I don't think it's fun at all. I don't understand why it's so big.