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.

 

Q You make grape seed oil, which is good in cooking. Do you know why?

A It has a high smoking point. The oil we make is a finishing oil that brings out other flavors. Use it as a drizzling oil on fish, salads.

 

Q Name something you would like to move from Canada to Minnesota.

A My answer would probably be like family and friends. But the second one from Michelle is ketchup chips. Canada has ketchup chips and Coffee Crisp Chocolate Bars.

 

Q What do you cook for Michelle?

A I like cooking Mexican food: fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas.

 

Q Speak one word of profanity in Polish.

A Good questions. [He said, cocking his head amusedly; I couldn’t begin to spell what he said.]

 

Q Who has the prettiest nose in the NHL?

A Not me.

 

Q You’ve got a politician’s swagger. You could run for office.

A I don’t know if I’d want to.

 

Q What do you read?

A Not much. The newspaper.

 

Q Is Hoppy aware of what a big celebrity he has become?

A Oh yes, sometimes it gets to his head. I have to ground him once in a while and tell him that he’s not bigger than the world, but he loves being the center of attention.

 

Q What’s your most expensive possession that Hoppy has chewed or destroyed?

A Oooh, probably about 5 grand worth of clothes. I kept finding little holes in my suits and everything else. Then we figured out Hoppy was taking a bite out of everything.

 

Q Does Hoppy sleep with you?

A Not anymore. We try to let him have his own room. He’s turning 8, so it’s about that time. [A few days later Hoppy got to sleep with his master, who was celebrating scoring his first goal, according to Twitter.]

 

Q I don’t imagine you serve Hoppy wine.

A No. He’s 7½ years old. Once he turns 21, maybe.

 

Interviews are not edited for furry cuteness. C.J. can be reached at cj@startribune.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.”



 

  • related content

  • Video: C.J.: Cuddly as a bunny Wild enforcer Konopka

    Sunday November 17, 2013

    Konopka plays effortlessly with his public and the media, which assists him in making the most of his NHL...

  • 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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