Mike Mottau is a thirty-three year old defenseman for the New York Islanders. The Quincy, Massachusets native was selected with the 182nd pick by the New York Rangers in the 1997 NHL draft. He played his college hockey at Boston College where he amassed 157 points in four seasons and took home the Hobey Baker Award for best division one player in the country during his senior season. He spent most of the ’00-’01 season in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack but was called up to the Rangers for 18 games and registered 3 assists. He spent the next six seasons bouncing around from different NHL and AHL teams before finding a home with the New Jersey Devils in 2007.
Mottau spent three full seasons with the Devils, amassing 50 points, before joining the Islanders this season.
Besides his job as a steady defenseman for the Isles, Mottau is also a father and husband. He answered some questions for TFL about family time, the nuances of his job and how his children feel about his career.
I have four kids. My oldest it Ryan, he’s six years old. One of my daughters is Rowan. She’s four years old. She’ll be five in December (2011). Then Madelyn, she’s three. Then Brooke will be one in a week. Courtney.
On the differences of being a professional hockey player vs. another job
Well, it’s a unique situation. Number one, we have to be physically rested for our occupation, so sometimes, we need rest at certain times during the day, like game days. That’s probably one of the biggest differences that I think, from say, a regular nine-to- five job. The travel, playing in the northeast isn’t as big a factor as you might think. We’re home in our beds after the games and able to see them after practices and on the way out the door to school sometimes, so that’s not the biggest issue. And the positive is that we do have summers off. We do have to train and take care of ourselves, but for the majority of the time that we’re around, we’re able to spend time and put in that time that we do miss during the season.
On what his family does in the off season, summer months
We’re lucky enough to live in a beach town, in the south of Boston and we go to the beach quite a bit. My parents and my in-laws both have a pool, so we take them to the pool as well. Then I’ll take my son golfing, to the golf range and just kind of do some activities that way, take him skating here and there. With my daughters, I take them to the car wash or wash the car with them or just take them for a ride. It’s always fun running around the town with the whole family, rather than just doing it by myself.
On his only son, Ryan, playing hockey
He just started skating maybe a year and a half ago. He’s around it a lot. I was never forced to do anything when I was younger, so if he wants to do it and continue to play, then I’m all for it because I love watching him out there. He still enjoys it, so I just want to keep getting him dressed and to the rink, as long as he still wants to do it. And my daughters then started skating consistently last year and they seem to really like it, so we’re going to kind of get them going again this year.
On how his son perceives him as a professional hockey player
He doesn’t really know anything else, so he doesn’t really grasp the whole concept that not every other kid can go into an NHL locker room and get on the ice and meet the guys, have access to the guys that everyone else sees on the TV, but he does think it’s really cool. He’s really proud the fact that I play in the NHL. He tells anyone who will listen. That’s what I hear; he doesn’t really do it when I’m around. That’s exciting to hear. He really enjoys it.
On how his daughters perceive him as a professional hockey player
My daughters they don’t really get it too much. My four-year old, she pretends she doesn’t care, but she does says I smell if I don’t shower right after.
On moving around to different teams and how that affects his family
This is probably the toughest thing now as they get a little bit older. We had a little bit of life outside of hockey in Jersey; we were part of the community, had some friends through school and my son and older daughter had friends from school and it was kind of a difficult time to just uproot everyone and go somewhere else. I always have a built-in community or network in the locker room with the guys, but for my wife, it’s really difficult. For the kids, not as difficult because they’re young and really social and versatile that way, but as they get a little older and I continue to play, that will probably the biggest challenge moving forward. My wife, you have to give her a lot of credit because she puts up with me and number two, has to juggle all of the kids, with that crazy schedule and uncertainty.
On his favorite part about being a father
That’s a great question. It’s tough to narrow it down. There are quite a few things. It makes you think. I like being the jungle gym, with them climbing all of you, giving you a hug, getting down on the floor with them and having playtime, whatever age that is. They’re at the ages where they really enjoy that right now