7. may 2009 / A LOVE OF HOCKEY AND COUNTRY:
PATRIK ELIAS EMBRACES THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE
The stage is set tonight for a quarterfinal match between the Czech Republic and Sweden at the Ice Hockey World Championships. Patrikâ€™s love of hockey and his country could not be more evident as he prepares for tonightâ€™s important contest. While many of his New Jersey Devil teammates returned home after the team failed to reach the second round of the 2009 playoffs, Patrik decided to hop on a plane to Switzerland and fought off jet lag and fatigue from a long NHL season to join the Czech National team in the midst of the tournament. He got off the plane, suited up for a game against Slovakia, and scored a goal.
Patrik has scored twice in his two games with the team, sparking his squad to two decisive victories (8-0 over Slovakia and 3-0 over Belarus). He took a moment to discuss his experience with the Czech team thus far.
Q: What made you want to join the Czech team once your NHL season was over?
Patrik Elias: Even though we had a tough loss in the playoffs, I thought the best thing was to step back into playing hockey. Itâ€™s fun to play a different style of hockey and itâ€™s great to have a chance to accomplish something more in hockey.
Q: What does it mean to you to be able to represent your country?
Patrik Elias: Itâ€™s always an honor and privilege to play for your country.
Q: What's one of your favorite parts about playing on an international stage?
Patrik Elias: Just the atmosphere and the experience to play with your friends and represent your country.
Q: How is the style of play different in this tournament compared to the NHL? Did you have any trouble adjusting once you got there?
Patrik Elias: Playing with other great hockey players on an international stage can be a little different. The ice sheet is bigger so for creative players there is more room and time to show their skills so it did take me a couple of days to adjust, but I also had to adjust to the time change as well.
Q: You are known around the NHL as a great two-way hockey player who can score goals consistently but also knows when to get back on defense. Do forwards on the international teams share a defensive side to their game as well?
Patrik Elias: Yes we do. I feel like I know how to play any kind of game. I always try to read the game and play responsible and we have a lot of guys like that here.
Q: You scored a power play goal recently. Is the Czech power play strategy similar to the Devils?
Patrik Elias: I think we improvise more and really try to create high quality chances.
Q: What will you miss most about New Jersey in the off season?
Patrik Elias: My friends, eating at my favorite places like Divina and Cianci and shopping at Whole Foods. (Dan Altano)