20 December 2009
Zenon Konopka leads the league in penalty minutes at 135, Carcillo who is 2nd comes in at 96 PIMs
"There are days, Zenon Konopka admitted — like the one in Detroit when his neck and wrist were packed in ice and he could not speak clearly because of the stitches in his mouth — that he wonders what his body will feel like at age 50."-Cristodero from the St. Petersburg Times
Konopka was born on January 2, 1985 in Niagara-on-the-Lake ON. He played in the juniors for the Ottawa 67's winning a Memorial Cup with the team in 1999 but went undrafted and then spent the next couple of years toiling away in the ECHL and AHL. He made his NHL debut with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 2005-2006 but was traded in the off season with Curtis Glencross to CBJ where he spent most of his time with their AHL affiliate.
"The best way to describe it is, seven or eight years ago, I was making 360 bucks a week, and I was doing the same thing in the East Coast Hockey League,"-St. Petersburg Times
The Lightning signed Konopka to a 2 year contract in 2008. This year after a strong camp and a coach that likes his style of play, Konopka has been a regular on the Lightning starting roster. He's not a huge guy at 6 feet and 211 pounds (as far as enforcers go) but he doesn't shy away from dropping the gloves. Some days I roll my eyes when I see another fight break out in which Konopka is in the middle of it since it happens so often, but he knows his role and he does it well. Having a coach like Tocchet has worked in Konopka's favor, as Tocchet likes the type of gritty player that Konopka is. "The mental toughness of him is something I really respect," coach Rick Tocchet said. "He lives on the edge. He doesn't take anything for granted because he knows it can be taken away from him. He knows his role."
Lecavalier tells Cristodero that "He's like Russell Crowe in the Gladiator,", "I love playing with the guy. He's inspiring. Guys look up to him. He's a great leader, a leader by example."
In addition to fightning, Konopka is also great at faceoffs and has been able to help bring the energy to Tampa's 4th line. He also has a hockey camp called Zenon Konopka's Hockey Academy in Ottawa, ON. It's nice to see players, no matter their skill level, give back to young players during their off season.
The Lightning don't win games because of him but he has become a bit of a fan favorite because of the role that he plays so well on the team.