NHL.com: Moose’s Ludwig learned plenty from his dad

by Mike G. Morreale || NHL.com

ludwig-head_200.jpg Defenseman Trevor Ludwig experienced a different childhood than most while trying to climb the amateur ice-hockey ranks.

Let’s say Trevor, the 23-year-old son of retired NHL defenseman Craig Ludwig, was a veteran traveler.

"It was tough growing up because we were going from Montreal, to New York, to Minnesota and to Dallas, so I’d meet new friends and then have to start over again," Ludwig told NHL.com. "It was a different childhood compared to most of my friends at school because dad was always on the road, playing games, so it was hard for him.

"When I got older and he was retired, he got a chance to come out and watch me a little bit more and that’s when I was playing juniors, so he was able to see me progress and start becoming the player I am today. Even though it was tough, I wouldn’t change a thing."

Craig Ludwig, regarded as one of the NHL’s finest shot blockers, played 17 NHL seasons with the Canadiens, Islanders, Minnesota North Stars and Dallas Stars from 1982-83 through 1998-99. Born in Rhinelander, Wisc., Ludwig was inducted into the Wisconsin Hall of Fame in 2002.

While Trevor marvels at his dad’s NHL accomplishments, which includes having played in more than 1,200 career games, he is hoping to establish his own style and presence on the ice.

Trevor was drafted by the Stars in the sixth round (No. 183) in 2004 and signed a two-year, entry-level contract in September. He started the season with the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose.

"Dad played hockey eons ago when it was a different game," Ludwig said. "I wouldn’t say I’m the caliber shot-blocker that he was since he did it for so long. He had that knowledge for the game that I don’t have yet, but whether it’s shot-blocking or just playing defense, I’ll always try and soak in as much as possible when he’s showing me the ropes.

"I want to try to add more to the game other than just being known as a good shot blocker. Dad played in college (North Dakota) and went the same route I did and eventually played in the pros, so he’s done the same things I’m doing right now and he’s sharing those experiences with me which helps out.

"He told me the best path to success is keeping it simple and staying on an even level," Ludwig said. "Play your game and don’t go out of your comfort zone because someone else does."

Trevor spent four seasons at Providence College before posting three assists and a plus-3 rating in seven games with the AHL’s Iowa Stars at the end of the 2007-08 season. He admits going from college to the AHL was an eye-opening experience.

"I do feel college is a different game than that of the AHL," Ludwig said. "College is a lot more hitting, fast-paced and run-and-gun. In the minors, there’s more structure, staying back and a bit more trapping. Every league and every level you advance becomes a learning process and I learned a lot from the coaches and players at Providence so it was a good experience for me."

On top of that, Ludwig valued a good education.

"No matter how long or how successful you are as a pro, you will have to stop playing hockey eventually and with a degree, I’ve got a backup plan for whenever I’m done playing," he said. "My dad never forced me to go to college, but did tell me that it was probably the smartest way to go because of the uncertainty of not playing."

Stu Barnes, an assistant coach in Dallas this season, was impressed with Ludwig’s determination throughout training camp.

"At first, you would probably think of ‘Luds’ as a little bit of a stay-at-home defenseman, but he also has some offensive flair in there," Barnes said. "He was solid all through camp and he definitely has a future, no question."

Whatever "offensive flair" Ludwig possesses, he credits his twin brother, Tyler.

"Tyler and I always played against each other and we’d always look to stickhandle around each other, so maybe that’s where I get some of my offensive ability," Ludwig said. "Other than that, I really don’t consider myself an offensive defenseman."

In that respect, he is a chip off the old block.