Former Devil Cam Janssen: Where is He Now?

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to speak with former New Jersey Devils forward Cam Janssen, who played 171 games with the team over five seasons. During that time, he logged 304 penalty minutes, entertaining fans by going up against some of the toughest opponents in the league, like Michael Rupp and Brian McGrattan.

Where Are They Now New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils (The Hockey Writers)

Off the ice, he was always courteous and honest about his career, which put him high on my list of players to interview. We spent close to an hour on the phone as I laughed and learned about the ins and outs of Janssen’s journey, which of course started in small-town Missouri.

Small Town, Big Dreams

Eureka, Missouri, is known for two things: Six Flags St. Louis and Janssen’s birthplace. The future NHLer grew up in a blue-collar town where hockey was not exactly a popular sport.

“I’m from middle of Missouri where people loved the [St. Louis] Blues, but didn’t really know hockey,” said Janssen. “Brett Hull was scoring 86 goals a year, so people were into the team but did not really know the game.”

Related: Devils’ 2012 Stanley Cup Final Team: Where Are They Now?

As a kid, he developed a love for the hometown team and played roller hockey, among other sports. At the age of nine, his dad introduced him to ice hockey, and a few years later, both he and his parents knew he would one day play in the NHL.

Fast forward to 2001, when the winger was selected by the Windsor Spitfires in the third round of the Ontario Hockey League Draft. He decided to move to Windsor, Ontario, to begin his hockey career instead of staying in Missouri to complete his senior year at Eureka High School. It was during this time that he became familiar with the name Lou Lamoriello.

Janssen Drafted by Devils

Before the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Janssen was scheduled to have meetings with different teams, and first up was the Devils.

“When I was up in Toronto for the draft, they were my first meeting,” he explained. “It was very intimidating. It was Lamoriello and five other guys in this small room, and they were asking me all these questions at 6:00 in the morning.”

He must have impressed those six men as New Jersey picked him with their 117th pick. Looking back, it was the perfect fit as Lamoriello provided the structure and discipline he needed at that time in his life.

Related: Cam Janssen Has Given the Devils an Unexpected Spark

“I would be so nervous about [Lamoriello]. I would make sure I was there before everybody before every practice,” he said. “Even if I went out that night, I would suck it up and get up no matter what and make sure he saw me first in the locker room when he made his rounds. He would come in early and go around and say hi to everybody, including trainers, and equipment, and I would want him to see me first, even if I [didn’t feel great], I would be like, I’m here, and I’m doing things.”

Janssen played his first game for the Devils on Nov. 5, 2005, against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden at 21 years old. He described how nervous he was ahead of his first NHL game, walking into the locker room and being met by proven champions like Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta.

When I asked how confident he was with his pregame routine walking into the room for the first time, he said with a hearty laugh:

Cam Janssen New Jersey Devils
Cam Janssen, New Jersey Devils (Lisa Gansky, CC BY-SA 2.0 – – via Wikimedia Commons)

“I am watching these guys, and the first thing they said to me was, ‘This is our savior’ because they lost six games in a row. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was watching everything. I couldn’t even eat because I was so nervous.”

That night he played eight shifts, totaling 5:34 of ice time, with one shot against goaltender Kevin Weekes. I asked if he felt any pressure to get into a fight or bring a certain amount of physicality in his debut, and what he actually worried about surprised me.

“I was worried about getting the puck out of the zone. I remember my first shift. I scrambled on the wall, and I kicked [the puck] free and got it out of the zone. I didn’t hit anyone but when I came back to the bench all the guys were screaming, ‘Way to get it out of the zone kid.’ After that, I went out there and started hitting guys and had a good game.”

Janssen went on to stress how important it is to play a responsible game in the defensive zone.

“The first thing that you have to do is be disciplined in your own zone. You have to get the puck out. You can hit guys all you want and fight guys, but if you don’t know how to get the puck out of the zone, you are never going to play.”

The physical style that he is known for naturally became part of his game, and his first regular-season fight took place on Dec. 26, 2005, against Darcy Tucker of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Janssen waved the ref away when he tried to break it up. I asked him why he would do that, and the answer was simple.

“You have to remember, I’m 5-foot-11, fighting guys bigger than me. I need to be patient and have my cardio down so I could make a fight out of it,” he explained. “It’s not like I am going to knock these guys out because it’s hard to hit them. What I am going to do is put on a show for all the fans, and my teammates love it.”

We can easily call Janssen an entertainer as he engaged with fans on the ice – even from the penalty box. During the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, Lamoriello and former head coach Pete DeBoer asked him to give the pump-up speech before the team took the ice. It made sense, since he was friends with everyone and could make the guys laugh and settle down before puck drop. It was something he took pride in, and admitted that giving those speeches was the most intimidating thing he’s ever done.

Janssen also suited up for his hometown St. Louis Blues, but looking back, he will say that he is more of a Devil because they were the team that took a chance on him. It’s fitting that he finished his career as a Devil and suited up for his last NHL game in New Jersey on Dec. 31, 2013.

Janssen’s Life After Hockey

Janssen officially announced his retirement from hockey on Aug.12, 2016. He played his last season overseas with the Nottingham Panthers of the Elite Ice Hockey League in the United Kingdom. It’s a time he looks back on fondly and describes it as a “lovely experience.” In 2019, he married his longtime girlfriend, Kate, who he met in high school. The two now live in Missouri with their two dogs and cat. When Janssen is not recording his Cam & Strick Podcast, he and his wife enjoy spending time on the golf course and watching House of the Dragon.

Cam & Strick Podcast

Janssen is a born conversationalist, so it makes sense that he went from being the subject of interviews to interviewing the top NHL names. He, along with co-host, Andy Strickland, have an ideal partnership; Strickland can successfully navigate the interviews with the league’s general managers and coaches, while Janssen can be himself and shine speaking with current and former players.

As he did early in his career, Janssen said he arrives an hour and a half early for his show and produces everything himself. At 38 years old, his work ethic is as strong as it was when he was 20, looking to make his mark in the NHL. He is candid about his battles both on and off the ice and said a tell-all book could one day be in his future.

I want to thank Cam for his time and insight. This was one of my favorite interviews to date. Be sure to check out the latest episode of his show by following it on Twitter.

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