New York Rangers captain Jacob Trouba may be the most interesting man in hockey, on and off the ice

Jacob Trouba is captain of the best team in the NHL this season, the New York Rangers, one of the oldest franchises in hockey in one of the world's greatest sports towns.

The big-hitting American defenseman is also an artist, philanthropist, advocate and, most recently, an actor in a commercial urging early cancer detection. He might be the most interesting man in hockey.

Trouba asked for a trade from Winnipeg to a team in the U.S. so his then-fiancée could pursue her medical career. He was the only player to agree to have his photo taken getting the COVID-19 vaccine, speaks to Fortune 500 CEOs to get advice about leadership, paints on the side, helps run an epilepsy art program and is the face of a new Hockey Fights Cancer campaign launching just in time for the playoffs.

He is, of course, highly focused on helping the Rangers hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1994, the year he was born. He just has other things going on. A lot of them.

“I’m a little different, probably in a lot of those ways, but that’s just kind of how I’m wired,” Trouba said. “There’s more to the game of hockey. I think there’s experiences that you can bring in to help the team, to help you become a better player.”

Trouba's mother, Kristy, who co-starred in the AstraZeneca “ Get Body Checked Against Cancer ” ad, said she encouraged Jacob as a kid to go to friends' houses and play video games, lamenting the school dances, football games and spring break trips he sacrificed as a teenager in the name of hockey.

“Jacob would go out in the garage and shoot pucks against the hockey tarp by himself all the time,” Kristy Trouba said. “He’s just very dedicated. When he puts his mind to do something, he’s going to give it the absolute best that he has.”

On the ice, no one in the league blocked more shots on average this season than Trouba, who isn't even tops on his team in hits but is known for big, crushing, clean open-ice body checks that have otherwise largely disappeared from the sport at its highest level.

“It’s not really something I set my mind to go out and do,” Trouba said. “It’s just something that, if it presents itself, to make the hit. It’s always been a part of my game since I was a kid, really. It’s a part of my game. It’s a big part of the game in general."

Trouba being known for body checks and his work in the community made him the logical choice for the commercial, AstraZeneca US Head of Oncology Mohit Manrao said. It was a “no-brainer” for Trouba, too, after losing his grandfather to cancer and seeing his mom and other family members have health scares of their own.

"Just trying to make a difference," he said.

Last summer, he founded the The Trouba Creative Expressions Arts Program that gives adults with epilepsy the opportunity to paint as an outlet, and proceeds from his work go there and to the Rangers-connected Garden of Dreams Foundation.

“He’s one of those guys who just gets it,” said Mike Geschwer, a friend and fellow artist. “Everything he does has those elements of giving back, and that’s just the person he is. You can’t really teach that.”

You can, however, learn it. Kelly Tyson-Trouba, now a doctor, often comes home from work to talk to her husband about how she just had to inform people they have terminal cancer.

“It weighs on her,” Trouba said. “I can see how much she obviously is impacted by it and obviously what it means to the families. She comes home and tells me some details just because she needs to talk about it.”

Trouba was the ninth overall pick by the Jets in the 2012 draft and he played his first six seasons in Winnipeg. The 30-year-old Michigan native asked for a trade so Kelly could get through medical school. His mother knows it was not an easy decision because of how much Jacob loved his teammates, coaches and the Canadian city.

“The fact is he needed to get back to the States to make his dream come true with Kelly, and to me that just proves how compassionate he is about his family life,” Kristy said. “It’s very important that not only he follow his dreams but she needs to follow her dreams, as well.”

Married now with a young son, they're a “terrific team,” said Geschwer, who met Jacob and Kelly after his wife, Cortnee Glasser, helped the Troubas find a home in New York City.

Geschwer invited Trouba to his studio and helped Jacob find his artistic touch that his mother once said he never had. He is now rooting hard for his friend to lead the Rangers to a title this spring.

“For Jacob, I just want him successful in everything he does, and that’s the pinnacle of success is to win the Cup,” he said. “His mindset, that’s his singular interest for himself, for the team. That’s his goal is to win a championship.”