Ilari Filppula, 30, was the top scorer of last year's edition of European Trophy. Whether he set himself the goal to repeat this and about all the other toppics from past, present and future, Jokerit's press stuff sat down with him and here are the answers.
If you look back on last season, what would be your summary of it?
Ilari Filppula: Most memorable moments came in the playoffs. We beat our Helsinki rival team IFK in the quarter finals of SM-liiga and it was also nice to win the bronze medal game. It was good to win our last game of the season. Of course there are also good memories from last year’s European Trophy. We went to the final but ended up losing it. I think our season was OK but we expected more from ourselves. We didn’t make it to the end in SM-liiga nor European Trophy. We had our chances to win in both of them. But to get two medals in one season isn’t a total disappointment.”
What are you doing in the off-season?
Ilari Filppula: I’ve been training of course but also been on holiday. We went to the United States and visited cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco. I also went to Southern France with my brother. It was nice to go to Nice, Monaco and Cannes. Those trips helped me to let go of ice hockey for a while and gave me a chance to enjoy some sunny weather because in Finland it has been raining all the time.Of course I trained during those trips. We had gyms in the hotels so I was able to do all those things I needed. Everything I’ve been doing has aimed at to improve my skating. I’ve been working on the strength in my legs. I’ve been trying to get more power out of my skating and that I wouldn’t get tired that fast.
How would you compare European Trophy to other club competitions you’ve played?
Ilari Filppula: The experience from last year was really good. We got to play against competetive teams from other countries. We play against the same teams in SM-liiga the whole year so it’s nice to get a little variety. It’s also important to get to travel with your own team at the start of the season and it helps us to build our team chemistry. When you go to another country you spend practically the whole time with your team mates.
Who will be your strongest rival for winning your division?
Ilari Filppula: They’re all pretty tough teams to play against. For me, Swedish teams are always really strong opponents because they can skate and control the puck well. It’s often really difficult to play against them. I believe that maybe Frölunda will be the toughest test for us. Swiss teams are also really good and I haven’t played against them that much so that should be interesting. Zürich won their league last year and Zug was the top team in the regular season. We have to play really well if we are going to advance to the Red Bull’s Salute.”
What will be your goal for the upcoming season?
Ilari Filppula: My own goals are pretty much the same as last year. I want to play a good solid season where my best games come during the last stretch. I didn’t achieve that last season. As a team, our aim will definitely be in the finals, both in SM-liiga and in European Trophy.