Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers
Q: On returning to the Flyers
“I’m really excited. I started my career there and I have great memories there. I’m excited to have a good team and a great organization.”
Q: Do you look back on the day you were traded from here and think I never would have won the Cup in Tampa, wouldn’t have scored that big goal, wouldn’t have won the Cup in Pittsburgh?
“You always sometimes look back and see what journey you took, but I never looked at it that way, what if I never leave, or other things. What if we’d won the Cup in Philly. I never do that, and I believe whatever cards you’re dealt at that time… I had a first time in Philly, I had great fans there, and I was excited. I was excited and most of all I was really appreciative of the Flyers organization giving me a chance to be in the NHL at that point. So I never look back and think such-and-such traded me, they didn’t want me… it’s part of the business, and I just go with that. Like you said, in the years I always thought it would be nice to one day come back and play there again, and it happened this time.
Q: It took you a while to stick with the Flyers at that point… do you look back on that at all and at least understand that kind of gave you a career boost?
“My first year I was with the Phantoms and the one time I went down to the East Coast [league]… my second year I started with the Phantoms, I believe six or eight games, and I got called up once and I’ve stuck since then. [The first year] was a learning experience coming from juniors. I had a good training camp, but it was not the start I would have liked in the AHL with the Phantoms. At that point, I had a talk with Bill Barber and he said you just need to get your scoring touch back, so we’ll send you down, you get your scoring back for a couple games, and we’ll call you back. I believe at that point that’s what happened. When I came back, I believe I finished really strong the rest of the season with the Phantoms. It was all good there. The second year, when I made it to the NHL, I was very, very happy. To not be drafted and my second year being in the NHL, I think I was pretty lucky.”
Q: What do you think you’ve brought to the teams you’ve played for since then?
“I think maybe I bring a little bit different things to the teams now than when I started my career. Now I obviously have more experience… I’ve been through winning and not winning, I guess… you know what, I feel like I can still have that physical play. At the time that’s kind of how they called Flyer hockey. Bill Barber was training me to play that way, play physical, gritty, kind of playoff hockey. I believe I thrive in that and I’m pretty excited about that.”
Q: You played with Talbot and Malkin and Dupuis the year you won the Cup in Pittsburgh, and now you have a chance to play with Claude Giroux. Can you talk a little bit about what it takes to play with these kind of players?
“I’ve been very lucky throughout my whole career. I’ve been playing with great, great players starting in Philadelphia and all along the way. I did play with Max there and Malkin and that’s when we won the Cup, and we had pretty good chemistry there. I feel like I can adjust to a lot of different players. I feel like maybe I come with a little bit of versatility. I feel like I can play more finesse game or I can play really defensive. I feel like I can adapt to many styles and like I said, I’m looking forward to whoever the coaches decide to put me in with, I’m excited to take on the challenge.”
Q: If you had your choice, would you like to play alongside Giroux or maybe alongside Max Talbot?
“That would be great. Like I said, I leave that up to the coaches to do the coaching job. For me as a player, I just do m y job when I need to get on the ice. Whatever lines I am put on, I will be doing my best.”
Q: On the results of the trade where he left Philadelphia – that he has had a long career
“I never really look back at that. I always feel at that point in time, I was maybe surprised, but Philly at that point maybe valued Pitkanen much greater, and his potential, the believe, it was… I wouldn’t say they were gambling, but they believed the reward would be much greater. I don’t want to get into all those details, but the GMs and the organization want to run the team a certain way and they’re looking for certain pieces and certain players to fit needs at that specific time. I believe if they see different teams willing to a top pick for me and they thought that was a good deal, then that’s when they pull the trigger. I can speak for myself, I’m ecstatic to play in the NHL and have this career, and like I said, be on the winning teams, but I’m not really bragging or thinking I’m so glad Pitkanen didn’t make it because it made me look better. I’m not that way.”
Q: Did you have a lot of offers, and why did you pick the Flyers?
“I don’t want to go into much detail… I had quite a few [offers], but I felt like I wanted to go to a team where I believe we have a chance to win the Cup. My goal last year was to stay with the Rangers because I believed we had a really good chance to win the Cup, and like I said, that didn’t work out last year. I still want to pick a team [that is] a really good contender for winning and I want to be a part of it.”
Q: What makes you think the Flyers are a better position to win the Cup than the last couple of years?
“I don’t know if Philly would say they’re better than last year, but I believe it’s a pretty young team. Every time and with every year with every experience a team matures and has a good chance. Who knew LA would win the Cup? Obviously when you get to the playoffs, anything can happen. But I feel like you have better chances, I believe in my mind you have better chances of making the playoffs and then having a good run for this team than some teams, I don’t want to name names, but teams that haven’t made the playoffs in the last couple years. So that’s why.”