One maturity story leads into another. Kariya says that he just recently bought his first car, an Acura Integra, and that he didn't even have a driver's license until this summer. Why? His friends all drove at 16 and several were involved in accidents, so he didn't want to drive until he absolutely had to. He says he put on weight during the lockout, six pounds, because he knew he needed extra bulk to play in the NHL. That was a goal during the empty time. He also learned to juggle.
"I had a book, Lessons from the Art of Juggling," he says. "It's really about more than learning how to juggle. Juggling is a metaphor for life. I followed the lessons, though. I can do the one where you take the bite out of the apple as it comes by. If it gives you just that split second more of coordination, it's something you have."
He says he reads more now than he did in college, mostly books about philosophy, about challenging the mind. He tells tales of African tribesmen standing around a tree, holding hands, chanting for the tree to fall, and the tree falls. See what the mind can do? He also reads business books. He would like to be involved in a business when he is done with hockey.
"So much of business is like sports," he says. "Teamwork, dedication, work ethic, competitiveness. I read an article in Forbes about Isiah Thomas. His goal is to make $1 billion. How would that be? Talk about points and goals and assists. Where docs $1 billion put you in the overall standings?"
Kariya did not play last season, and his post-lockout results have been modest to good. Wilson has juggled—maybe he also read the book—his first line, looking for people to expect Kariya's unexpected passes. He had a game-winning goal in a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 27 and through Sunday had a point in five of the last seven games. The Ducks are flying in the middle of the Pacific Division pack, or flock, or whatever it is.
His teammates say he has been exactly what he was advertised to be, a franchise-type offensive threat. His coach says he will only get better as he goes around the league a few times. His family in Vancouver would like to see him play, but his father, Tetsuhiko, says their youngest child is 13, and there are car pools to be arranged. His new family says he makes his bed.
"At least it seemed to be made the few times I've looked in there," says Teri Frederick, who inherited this millionaire boarder because she and her husband are friends of Wilson and his wife, Maureen. "I put a lock on his door before he moved in, because I thought he'd want his privacy, but I don't think he even uses it. He just fits in with the rest of us."
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