Q&A with C.J.: Zenon Konopka, Wild yet cuddly NHL enforcer

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 17, 2013 - 6:09 AM

When Hoppy Konopka’s 5x7 player card makes its debut, I’m taking full credit.

While at Edina Liquor a couple of Saturdays ago, Wild forward and tough guy Zenon Konopka was signing one of his 5x7 player cards when I asked him if Hoppy, the most famous pet rabbit and image buster in Minnesota, had a card.

“That’s a good idea,” Konopka said to his significant other and business partner, Michelle Finley.

Oh, I was just full of ideas, one of which I forced upon Konopka about the 1:25 time mark in my startribune.com/video. It drew interesting, dare I say promising, laughs from Konopka, who is one of those celebrities who gets it. Konopka plays effortlessly with his public and the media, which assists him in making the most of his NHL celebrity through various business ventures and charities.

At Edina Liquor, Konopka signed bottles of his greatest business passion, ZK28 wines (zenonkonopka.com/zk28-wines). I hope to be available if Hoppy is present should Konopka do a cooking shop signing for his grape seed drizzling oil business (purepressoil.com).

We start this interview with a serious subject before moving onto the silly in what I believe is, to date, the definitive Hoppy inquiry.

 

Q How necessary is fighting to the popularity of hockey?

A I think popularity is one thing; I think safety of the game, too. It’s kind of a Catch-22. If you take the fighting out, I think there’ll be a lot more stick infractions and concussions because of illegal hits.

 

Q Worry about concussions?

A I think we worry about head trauma later in life. I don’t, like, worry about concussions or getting hit, like say, tomorrow. But later in life it does cross your mind, for sure, what the ramifications are.

 

Q Do you feel head trauma later in life is going to be worth it?

A It’s one of those things. In my head I justify it by, if I have kids one day, they’re going to have a better life for what I sacrificed in my life, so that’s how I kind of look at it.

Q Speaking of kids, when is the wedding? There’s good energy between you two, and she is your business partner.

A [Laughs] We’ve got to sell more wine, thank you very much. Yes, she is.

 

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  • Zenon Konopka with his partner, Michelle Finley and the wine label's spokesrabbit, Hoppy.

  • Zenon Konopka with his partner, Michelle Finley, and the label’s spokesrabbit, Hoppy.

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