6. august 2011 / 10 QUESTIONS WITH PATRIK ELIAS
Despite missing the playoffs for the first time in his storied career, Patrik Elias' 2010-2011 season was marked by highs both on and off the ice. Patrik was a steady contributer to the scoresheet on a Devils team that struggled mightily from the get go, finishing with a team best 62 points (21 goals and 41 assists). He was selected as an NHL All-Star for the third time in his career and was named MVP by fellow teammates. Perhaps most promising for Devils fans was that he dressed for 81 games, proof he's back to full health after several injury plagued seasons. The one game he did miss--November 27, 2010 against the Flyers--he had a pretty good excuse: His wife Petra was giving birth to their daughter, Sophia Gabriella. I recently talked to the first time father about lessons learned from last season and what it will take for the Devils to return to winning ways.
How are you enjoying the offseason?
Patrik: Itâ€™s been very nice. Iâ€™ve been back home in Czech Republic training and spending time with family and friends. A lot of them hadnâ€™t seen my daughter yet so we made sure to make our rounds.
Has your daughter changed your outlook at all?
Patrik: She makes everything more enjoyable. As far as hockey is concerned she has made me more relaxed on the ice and helps me appreciate the small things. Fatherhood is wonderful.
Are you working on anything specific as far as training goes?
Patrik: Iâ€™m not doing too much differently than previous seasons. So far Iâ€™ve been doing plyometrics, running, stairs, mountain biking and spending time in the gym. Endurance and strength are always the focus.
Although the Devils had a rocky start, the teamâ€™s second half was exceptional. What are your thoughts on the 2010-2011 campaign?
Patrik: Jacques (Lemaire) put a system in place where we could be successful. He preached responsibility and the result was a more disciplined team that got back to basics and played the game we were capable of playing. It's a long season and it's important to give every game your best regardless of the standings. I think in some respects the season was helpful for our future because it allowed some of our younger players to step up and see some consistent action.
Are you optimistic about young forwards such as Mattias Tedenby, Jacob Josefson and Nick Palmieri?
Patrik: Thereâ€™s no doubt that the younger guys did a great job last season and were a big part of our second half success. With that being said, Iâ€™m interested to see what they can do under situations where there is more pressure.
What are your thoughts on the Devils resigning netminder Johan Hedberg?
Patrik:Itâ€™s a great move for a lot of reasons. Heâ€™s a solid goaltender, a great guy to have in the locker room, and since we have a few young Swedish players heâ€™ll play an important role in their development.
Do you think the the team needs to make any more additions in order to be successful?
Patrik:Our roster is solid at the moment but who knows what will happen in the next few weeks. We could benefit from another strong defenseman with a right-handed shot. Weâ€™ll see what happens.
You have been a Devil during many coaching changes (Peter Deboer makes it 13 since Lemaire made his first departure 1998). Is it difficult to adjust to new coaches so often?
Patrik: It really isnâ€™t something to be concerned about. As much as you have to adjust to a new coach, the coach has to adjust to his players. It's something I've become accustomed to and it doesn't change the way I approach the game.. At this point in my career my main concern is to play my game and help my team win.
What are your thoughts on fellow Czech player Jaromir Jagr returning to the NHL?
Patrik: He knows very well why he picked Philadelphia. I think it was a hockey decision more than anything else. He'll have more of an important role on the Flyers than he would have on the other teams that were interested in him. He'll get more power play minutes and will have more of a chance to be successful. It will be fun to play against him come October.
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
Patrik: I'm really looking forward to next year. I'd like to keep my game where it was last year and just have fun out there. Obviously staying healthy is the number one concern.