Maria Nordström of the Sundsvalls Tidning recently conducted an interview with Magnus Pääjärvi, which ends up as sort of a "good bye" interview in the end. In it, Pääjärvi reflects on his time in Timrå, Anton Lander, his other teammates and coaches, his family, and his impending trip to Edmonton. It's kind of odd to read a reflective and introspective interview from a 19-year-old.
Pääjärvi is one of four young players being counted on to become the face of the franchise and overhaul the fortunes of the franchise in short order. Though some fans would prefer the young Swede start his season in Oklahoma City with the Barons, he's likely the one young Oiler closest to being an effective NHL player. He's spent the last two years performing at a high level in one of the best professional leagues in the world, and he's shown that he's got offensive ability against grown men, something that the other young'uns have yet to do. After the jump, I look at some of the more interesting parts of what was a very extensive interview.
First, I want to thank our favorite tri-lingual Finnish commenter, Ehuisman, of the very pragmatically-named World of E. Huisman, for being kind enough to give us a translation of the interview. For nothing but our undying gratitude, Ehuisman takes time out of his day to do these translations for us. Thank you sir.
The first part of the interview is about Pääjärvi's background, his family, and his time in Timrå. One of those questions was very important to Oiler fans:
Nordström: Has there been a person [during his time at Timrå] who has been really important to you?
Pääjärvi: [Snipped answer about coaches] ...but also players who motivate others sometimes, like Anton, for example. But in the end it's all up to your self.
Pääjärvi speaks to the same thing that we've heard about Lander time and time again. It was one thing when our intrepid Swedish reporters said that Lander was a leader, but when a teammate in a professional league points to an 18-year-old as a player who motivates others, it's meaningful. In the very next question question Nordström asks something that we've previous wondered about, and in fact, we asked Lander the same question in our interview:
Nordström: Do you have a feeling you've been lumped together a bit sometimes [with Lander]?
Pääjärvi: I don't have a problem with it. It has been good, I've felt relaxed knowing he is there. We've been pushing each other and it has helped our development.
They've got very similar views on each other, so either they feel the same about the relationship, or they've scripted answers to the question. With Pääjärvi blazing the trail, Lander's landing in North America should be much softer. Nordström presses the issue and Pääjärvi's answer crystallizes their relationship:
Nordström: Do you think you'll miss him this coming season?
Pääjärvi: I think I will. I certainly hope he'll make the jump next year.
Nordström moves on to the topic of Pääjärvi's move to North America this season and the young Swede brings up his mother. We've heard and read much about Gunnar Svensson, Pääjärvi's father and agent to the Swedish stars, but until this point I've not read anything about his mom.
Nordström: What are they [Pääjärvi's family] saying about you moving to Edmonton?
Pääjärvi: My mom is like she always is; she doesn't want to let go. She is awesome, and she has been given all too little credit, but that's the way it is with mothers. But I think they are all proud of me, or I know they are, and they want me to succeed there.
In the sidebar of the article, Pääjärvi mentions that he signed his entry-level contract at home, with his mom in his childhood room.
Finally, Nordström moves on to the Oilers:
Nordström: You were on a camp in Edmonton this summer, how was it?
Pääjärvi: I was there six days and we took it pretty easy. It was more about getting to know the city and the management. It was nice and one could get a feeling of the atmosphere, the stands were packed and the dressing room was full media people.
Nordström: On Monday you will travel to Edmonton for the rookie camp and then the "real" camp, your goal has to be to make the team?
Pääjärvi: Yes, absolutely. I wouldn't have signed if I didn't plan on playing in the NHL. Then I would've stayed in the Elitserien for one more year. I don't have any other thoughts but that of making the team. I don't know what it's like to play in the NHL, but I feel that I'm as ready as I can be to take that step. But you never know, there are cuts all the time, and I can only hope to be among the ones who survive. I'll just go there and fight.
"I'll just go there and fight." Words that should make every Oiler fan smile from ear to ear.