On the ice, Tim Stutzle is becoming every bit the superstar that Senators fans and management alike had hoped for when they selected him #3 overall at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
While Alexis Lafreniere may one day become a star in this league, there isn’t a General Manager in the NHL today that would take Lafreniere, or any other player taken in the 2020 Draft Class, ahead of Tim Stutzle.
Stutzle’s sophomore season, especially his explosive second half, has established the young German as one of the league’s budding superstars. With Stutzle part of a talented young core, Senators fans have genuine reason to be excited about the future.
Off-ice, Stutzle is a charismatic and energetic, perfectly regular 20-year-old, with an interest in video games, watching live poker, and golf. He’s also especially fond of fashion and his go-to designer brands, something he credits his European background for. We sat down with the young NHL star to discuss his early years, life in Ottawa, and his outlook on the upcoming season.
Do you remember the first time you played hockey? What attracted you to the sport?
Yeah, I absolutely remember the first time; I used to play roller hockey all the time on the street with my dad and some friends from the neighbourhood. The bond you build and the friendships from playing hockey are so nice. That’s definitely a big reason why I love the sport.
Did you play any other sports growing up?
I played almost everything I could in high school, including soccer and tennis. I just love playing sports, but hockey was always my favourite.
Growing up in Germany, were you able to watch many NHL games? Who were some of your favourite players?
Not a whole lot because of the time change, but I tried to watch as much as I could. I would go to a lot of the under 20 games with my dad on weekends whenever I didn’t have a hockey or soccer game. Growing up, though, I loved watching Sidney Crosby. What he does on the ice is so special, so I’ve always enjoyed watching him.
What do you remember most about the night the Senators drafted you 3rd overall?
It was special to share that moment with all my teammates who helped me get there. Playing in Mannheim, there were so many guys who helped me out in my first-year pro.
Also, having Alex Trebek announce my name for the pick was very cool, because of the history he has in Canada and the United States.
When you look at the current Senators team, what excites you the most about the future of this young team?
Everything. The young core we have but also the older guys. There are so many super nice guys on the team, and everyone loves to hang out with each other. It’s great being around everyone and learning from the veteran players.
There are so many special players in the young core that we have who are getting better every day.
Your first goal was against the Leafs in just your second NHL game. How did that feel?
It was kind of a funny goal. Chabby was on the blue line and tried to get it on net, but it deflected high in the air, so I just waited and shot it as soon as it landed, and it ended up in the net. It’s funny because we talked about shooting more pucks at the net before the game, so it was kind of a lucky goal, but it was an incredible feeling, and I’ll never forget it.
What was it like for you playing with no fans in the stands, particularly when you scored your first career hat-trick? Also, how cool was it to have kids throw hats in your backyard after the fact to make up for it?
To be honest with you, it was terrible. I think every athlete plays for the fans, and it’s always the best feeling to play and score in front of them. Last year was especially tough if you had a bad game. There was nothing you could do to get out of it, and you just felt miserable out there because it was so quiet. So it’s been awesome having fans back this season.
The moment with the kids is a moment I’ll never forget. I really appreciated everything they did and how they supported us the whole season. Any time I went for a walk with Brady or Josh, families or kids would come up to us and say we were playing great even if we lost a few games in a row, so it was awesome to see how supportive the neighbourhood was.
Tell us about your family and their role in your success so far?
Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My parents drove me to every game and practice. My Mom made sure I was at every practice and that I kept up with my school work, too.
They’ve also been very supportive of every step I made in life. We would argue about some situations, though. They wanted me to go to college, but in the end, I was old enough to make the decision to play pro. They weren’t very happy initially because school is very important to them, but once I signed my contract, they were very happy for me and came to visit me every weekend to watch my games.
When you’re not playing hockey, what are some of your favourite things to do on off-days?
I went to Nordik Spa the other day, which was pretty nice. I like to go for walks with my dog, Archie, and just hang out on the couch watching Netflix. I FaceTime my friends and family back home a lot too.
Where are some of your favourite places to eat around Ottawa?
I love going to Giovanni’s; that’s probably my favourite spot. Mati is also really good. I went to Riviera recently, that’s a really nice place too. There are so many nice places around Ottawa to eat.
You lived with Brady Tkachuk and Josh Norris. Out of the 3 of you, who would you say was the best cook?
That’s an easy one (laughs). The only guy who cooked in the house was Josh, so he was definitely the best. His go-to was steak with sweet potatoes and asparagus.
Who was the worst cook?
I would have to say me (laughs).
Who was the cleanest, and who was the messiest?
The cleanest is hard because neither one was super clean, but they were both cleaner than me, so I was easily the messiest.
What are some of your favourite memories from living with them?
Watching poker. We used to always watch poker, and it was so much fun because we played poker on the plane when we would fly, so it was fun to watch the pros play. That was our thing to do. Basically, every time it was on TV, we would watch it on the couch together.
Otherwise, we would just hang out and play video games. We couldn’t do much because of Covid, so we would go on walks and have dinners together, which was nice.
What are some of your favourite movies or series to watch?
It’s hard to say right now because I’ve watched so much (laughs). I’ve watched Prison Break two or three times, so that’s definitely one of my favourite shows.
I like to watch sports documentaries like All or Nothing and the Last Dance. It’s always interesting to see how athletes are away from their sport.
How would you describe your style? What’s your go-to outfit?
I would say an oversized t-shirt with some nice pants and shoes. I’m really into fashion, and I’ve started getting Brady and Josh into style lately as well.
In Europe, everyone’s into fashion, more so than here, but I’m getting the boys into it. Chucky bought some new shoes the other day, so he’s slowly getting there (laughs).
What 3 clothing brands do you like to wear the most?
That’s hard because there are so many. Thierry Mugler has some very nice pants. Dior is one of my favourites, same with Essentials.
Who has the worst taste in fashion on the team, and who would you say is the best dressed?
I think Chucky was one of the worst-dressed guys, but he’s bought some new stuff recently, so he’s getting better. Chabby has pretty good style, and Whitey has some nice stuff too.
Suit-wise, I really like Austin Watson’s suits. I think he has one of the best styles for suits and same with Drake. Chucky’s down near the bottom, though, and I’m sure he would tell you that as well (laughs).
What are 3 things you would never leave your house without?
I would say my phone, wallet and car keys.
What did you buy with your first NHL paycheque?
It wasn’t anything crazy expensive, but I bought a Rolex watch.
Would you rather give up golf for the summer, or shave your head bald?
Wow. That’s hard (laughs). I feel like my hair would grow back fast, so I’ll choose that.
Have the hardest shot or be the fastest skater in the NHL?
Watch nothing but Hallmark Christmas movies or horror movies?
Christmas movies for sure (laughs).
Have your own theme park or zoo?
That’s another hard one (laughs). I’ll go with the zoo.
Finally, what piece of advice would you give to someone reading this who hopes to one day make it to the NHL?
Everything’s about having fun. Living life and just enjoying every moment you get on the ice and in the room. We should appreciate everything we get and that we’re able to play hockey. It’s all about having fun and being around your friends, so I think it’s important to always remember that.
Photography by Sean Sisk