Taking Liberties With… Mitch Wahl
Position: Forward, Vasterviks IK (Sweden)
Hometown: Seal Beach
Youth teams: Huntington Beach Lightning, Anaheim Jr. Ducks, California Wave, LA Jr. Kings
Hockey has taken Mitch Wahl many places in parts of eight professional seasons. Wahl, a second-round draft choice of the Calgary Flames in 2008, was a co-captain of the 2004-05 California Wave Bantam AAA team featured in the DVD “In the Crease,” Wahl later won a Memorial Cup with the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs in 2008 and represented Team USA at the World Junior Championship.
California Rubber: You headed overseas last season to continue your pro career. Can you give us an update on how things are going?
Mitch Wahl: I am really enjoying my time here. Sweden is a nice country and has been a great experience. I am located near the southeast in Sweden. I enjoy the hockey culture here. The fans are passionate.
CR: What is your favorite hockey memory from your time growing up in California?
MW: My favorite hockey memory from California is probably playing my last season of minor hockey with the Jr. Kings. It was a very fun and memorable season for me. We had a great group of players (including AHL players Matt White and Jake Newton and ECHL player Dennis Brown).
CR: Who have been some of your biggest influences?
MW: The biggest influences on me and my hockey career are definitely my parents (Mitch Sr. and Michelle), and all of my family for that matter. Without them, I certainly wouldn’t be able to be where I am today. I am forever grateful to each of them.
CR: When you talk to young players, what advice do you have for them?
MW: The best advice I could give to young players is work very hard, but most importantly have fun and enjoy playing while putting in the work. It makes the hard work a lot easier when you’re really enjoying yourself.
CR: Did you play other sports growing up? Do you still play any of them?
MW: I did play other sports growing up, such as golf. I did and still do surf, a little football and even some basketball, too. But hockey from a young age was always the most important to me though.
CR: Are you particular about any of your gear?
MW: I am extremely particular about my sticks. I need them to be right and feel good. Length, curve, lie, pattern, etcetera. I need to go to battle with the right weapon.
CR: Do you have a go-to meal when you’re home in California?
MW: The one type of food that I miss very much when I am away is Mexican food. Obviously in Southern California, it is very good. You can’t really get the genuine Mexican food here in Europe. Super Mex is a go-to spot for me when I get back for the summer.
CR: Did you have a favorite team or player when you were growing up?
MW: My favorite team growing up was definitely the Anaheim Ducks. I went to most of their games as a kid with my dad. I always loved Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne as players.
CR: If you weren’t a pro hockey player, what do you think you’d be doing?
MW: I would definitely love to pursue golf. It’s definitely a passion of mine. I play as much as possible during the offseason.
CR: What is the most challenging part of playing pro hockey?
MW: As kids, we play strictly because we love the game and it’s fun. At the pro level, it is a business and guys are fighting for their jobs every day and every game. I always try my best to realize that it’s a privilege to play and to enjoy the moment.
Photo/David Wall/Denhef Digital
— Compiled by Chris Bayee