In the second installment of a new new semi-regular feature on my show called Who Are You I caught up with Mark Letestu. We discuss mostly non-hockey topics.
The only rule is he has to answer honestly. We discussed children videos that parents dislike, mustaches, hobbies and more.
Jason Gregor: Welcome to Who Are You, where the only rule is you have to be one hundred percent honest on anything we ask.
Letestu: That’s fine with me. I’ve got nothing to hide (laughs).
Gregor: You’re growing a moustache for Movember, who has the best moustache that you recall in history of moustaches?
Letestu: (Sighs) Maybe Catfish Hunter from baseball, twirl on the end, he had some flair there. My dad, he’s got a big moustache and that will always be the most important one in my life; a big red thing.
Gregor: Is he still sporting the stache?
Letestu: Oh yeah, for as long as I’ve been alive, he’s always had it. It’s a part of him and everyone who knows my dad knows him as the guy with the big moustache so it’s pretty cool.
Gregor: What would it take to get pops to shave his moustache?
Letestu: It would take a lot. He’s never, I don’t think that I’ve ever seen him without it. It would probably take my mom pleading with him, but that’s about the only person who could get him to shave it.
Gregor: You have three young children. Which video did your kids watch that you absolutely hated, but had to sit through because that’s what parents do.
Letestu: I wasn’t a big fan of Bubble Guppies. It’s these little guys and puppies and they’re fish and they go to school. It’s irritating, but most of the stuff now, my boys are a little older (3 and 5). They’re into Ninja Turtles and superheroes, stuff that I was into as a kid so I can re-watch it and sit through it, but Bubble Guppies killed me. It was… it was a half hour of pain.
Gregor: So which video would allow your kids to watch more just because you wanted to watch it with them?
Letestu: Well the Ninja Turtles for sure. I remember having the pajamas and the underwear just like they have. It’s kind of cool just to share that with them now, even with the movies, explaining to them Bebop and Rocksteady and the Shredder. It’s kind of cool to be able to relate that way and I wish I had held onto all of my old toys because then I wouldn’t have to buy any (laughs), so it would be perfect.
Gregor: Which one of the Turtles is your favourite, who did you want to be?
Letestu: My brother’s name is Leigh, so he was Leonardo and my dad just said I’m Markelangelo.
Gregor: Is that your nickname, do your boys call you that?
Letestu: No my boys don’t, but that was my dad more so including me. Michelangelo would be it. I remember my grandmother knitting me a sweater with a big turtle head that said Markelangelo on it. So I wish that I still had that, it was terrible (laughs).
Gregor: What about your Oilers teammates. Do they call you Markelangelo, because that would be a pretty good nickname?
Letestu: No, nobody calls me that. I get Test, Letest, stuff like that. Pretty unoriginal nicknames around here.
Gregor: Is Mark Letestu a wizard in the kitchen and if so, what is your go to dish?
Letestu: I am not a wizard in the kitchen. I’ve tried, I’m just not that good at it. For me, it’s just working the grill. That’s really all I got. In the summer time, bring out the burgers, the hot dogs, I’ve got the Traeger smoker now, I’m playing around with that. So a lot of outdoor barbeque stuff, but I’m by no means a wizard, I couldn’t make anything fancy for sure.
Gregor: What habit or hobby do you have Oiler fans do not know about?
Letestu: Playing video games. That’s kind of my escape, my hobby. Even now that I have kids I still find a little time to get away and play some vids. Keeps me young I guess, but I enjoy it.
Gregor: Do you go online as an anonymous gamer and play people elsewhere?
Letestu: See, I’m old school, I don’t do the online gaming. I just like to play the story, the campaign or the season, I play a lot of baseball so I play the season mode there. I just like to kind of get lost in it. The online gaming, that’s just not for me. They’re way too good for me out there, way too good.
Gregor: Do you play NHL ’16 or whatever it is, ’17 now? And if so are you Mark Letestu when you play?
Letestu: I used to play a lot more when I was younger, that was my go to game but now that I play hockey, I don’t play it as much. I have it, just because I think that it’s really cool being a kid who played a lot of video games growing up to actually be a character in the game. So I think that’s really cool and yes I am myself when I play. It is great.
Gregor: Do you boost your ratings or do you play with the ranking the game have you?
Letestu: No, I boost my ratings (laughs) I’ve got to be good. I can’t plummet away as a healthy scratch so I’ve got to boost my ratings.
Gregor: You’re five year old is old enough to understand what Dad does. Is Dad his favourite player, or is it someone else?
Letestu: Well it used to be Sergei Bobrovsky when I was a Blue Jacket, it used to be goal Bob, everything. Now it is Connor McDavid. Dad is very second, maybe even third. But he knows that Dad is a hockey player. For me I have no jealously, I always tell my kids, if you’re going to have heroes, make them good ones and Connor is perfect hero for a young kid growing up.
Gregor: Connor is a young teammate, doesn’t have kids, would the cool thing then be for Connor to come over and be Uncle Connor for a day for you kids and babysit? Do you think he’s ready for that?
Letestu: (Laughs) I don’t know if he’s ready for it, it would really help me and my wife out though to have a night off. To have some of the young guys come over and show them what I go through on a day-to-day basis. When they offer I will have no problem handing over the kids, I think they’re responsible enough to take care of them.
Gregor: Other hidden talents, do you play music, are you a guitar guy?
Letestu: No, I’m terrible at music. My kids will tell me that because I like to sing and embarrass them in the car. Talents, I used to draw as a kid. I kind of lost that too. It’s funny how your hobbies go away once you have your kids. You get involved in their lives, everything becomes about them. Hidden talents, no. I’m really kind of gifted at pop knowledge, movies, music, I’d be good at the old board game Scene It. I’m really into movies and for whatever reason retain a lot of knowledge off of it.
Gregor: What is your go to guilty pleasure song that if it comes on the radio, you will sing it loud and proud?
Letestu: Oh man, well this comes back to your honesty rule. When I was in my teens, I’ll say, (He was 21 when the song came out) there was a young pop star, JoJo, young girl and she had this song Too Little Too Late. For some reason I knew all of the words and I would sing it on the top of my lungs and my buddies would get really embarrassed by it, but I would do it. Guilty pleasure song that would have to be it.
Gregor: Would you Karaoke it?
Letestu: Absolutely not. No, karaoke is a no win situation for me, so I stay away from it.
Gregor: You’ve never Karoaked?
Letestu: Well, I had to as a rookie. They’ve thrown me up on stage.
Gregor: And you didn’t sing JoJo, what did you sing?
Letestu: I think it was Living La Vida Loca.
Gregor: That’s a really hard song! At least maybe start at a lower level song that’s a bit easier next time.
Letestu: That’s guys, veterans stuck us up there. I had to carry it too. I had some really nervous guys with me so I had to really carry it. It was ugly, but I got through it.
Gregor: Will Oilers rookies be singing Karaoke this year?
Letestu: I think it’s always a good way to break the ice with them, but it’s backfired because sometimes there are some guys who can really, really sing. So yeah, why not, I’ll suggest we get them up singing eventually.
Gregor: Not to jinx you, but you’re three-for-three on breakaways and shootouts this year. I was actually at a local establishment when you played the Islanders and when Mark Letestu came to go, people were yelling ‘why Letestu?’ and then you score and people are saying, ‘Yes! Letestu!’ Why are you three and oh thus far on shootouts and breakaways?
Letestu: Again, the honesty thing, just because I’m good at them. Check the career numbers. I think that I’m up around forty five percent in my career in the shootout. I’ve done lots of them and I’ve had a lot of success. I wasn’t nervous at all, I kind of knew what I was going to do. But I think it’s fair to question any time that you have the amount of talent you have in this room. #97 was still on the bench and Leon [Draisaitl]. We have a lot of good hockey players, really offensive hockey players. I think that was just coach playing a hunch and I’m happy that I rewarded him.
Gregor: Are you a prankster in the room?
Letestu: I wouldn’t call myself the prankster. I like to have a lot of fun. If there’s a joke to be had, I’m certainly in on that, but I’m not the guy to go looking for it.
Gregor: Best prank you’ve ever played or been a part of in your NHL career?
Letestu: The most notable one that I’ve been a part of was on the HBO special, 24/7, when I was still in Pittsburgh. A few of the guys, because I was still a rookie that year, came into my room on the road and took all of the furniture, couches, TV, dressers, everything and put it into the hallway. When I got back from dinner, my room was in the hallway. It was a great prank, it was all on HBO. The reactions were perfect from me and Ben Lovejoy. So that’s the best one I’ve ever been a part of. I’m going to try to do that on somebody just to pass it on, because it’s a blemish on the record.
Gregor: How long did it take you to get your stuff back into the room?
Letestu: Funny story, the hotel got mad at us. They thought that we had done it, so the hotel staff had come to the room and really got after Ben and I about it. Ben kind of stood his ground and made them put it all back in. So we didn’t have to do it, but it took the people at the hotel like an hour.
Gregor: You had the hotel staff put it back in?
Letestu: Yeah, they let someone into our room! That’s a security issue so we really went after them (laughs).
Gregor: With all of your pop culture knowledge, what is your go to song right now or the one you’re listening to every game day or on the way home?
Letestu: On game day, I’ve got a few rock songs that I go to, Godsmack 1000hp, is awesome, Sound of Madness by Shinedown, so I’ve got some rock tunes to just kind of get me going before the game. Other than that I have to keep it pretty low key with the kids in the car. There is no Frozen soundtrack, but they get to listen to real music. They tend to sway my way which is nice. But yeah, a little bit of rock music get me going before a game.
Gregor: You mentioned earlier you retain a lot of knowledge, so do know all of the words to Frozen?
Letestu: I know some of the words, yeah.
Gregor: Do you sing it with your kids?
Letestu: Of course you sing it with your kids. You’ve got to show them not to be nervous or shy, so you’ve got to sometimes buck up and sing the songs that you don’t want to sing.
Gregor: Thanks for joining us on Who Are You.
Letestu: Thank you Jason
Letestu was a good sport. Jojo is a classic guilty pleasure song, and I think Nation Gear should make a Markelangelo shirt. That would be great.
I also liked his response to shootouts. “Because I’m good at them, and he knew exactly what his % was, 43.
If you have any requests on which player you’d like to be on Who Are You next let me know.