Elias Pettersson on avoiding a slow start, reflecting on last season, and being there for Brock Boeser
Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Michael Liu6 months ago
It’s no secret that Elias Pettersson didn’t have the best of starts to last season. After rehabbing a wrist injury, missing training camp due to a contract holdout and experimenting with new sticks, the young Swede had just 17 points through December in 34 contests. Pettersson finished the year strong with 68 points, but he knows better than anyone that he is capable of much more.
He also doesn’t want his wrist injury or stick change to be used as excuses for his slow start.
On Tuesday morning, he spoke about his struggles out of the gate last year.
“I wasn’t playing with as much confidence as I always play with,” Pettersson told reporters. “So with all the answers in hand — it sucks that it happened, but I’m also glad it happened because I got experience from it and I took myself out of it.”
Pettersson then reflected on the year that it was.
“I mean, we can be honest, my start last season wasn’t the way I wanted to start. And I was just — I’ve grown from that and learned like why it happened, and then why I had the second half of the season, why I played like that.
“It was basically two different me’s out there and I was just playing with a lot more confidence in the second half. So I’m somewhat happy I went through it, because I know how I got out of it, if that makes sense.”
Even so, saying that he has learned is different from showing that he has learned. Pettersson will want to avoid a start like last season this time around, and it’s something that he’s been working hard on over the summer.
“I had a good summer training, didn’t really go on any vacation,” he said after looking sharp during the morning’s skate. “I was just working out all summer trying to prepare myself as much as possible… I felt good and I’m just trying to get back to the usual habits of playing the right way.”
“I’m always trying to take steps every season and I’ve just felt I’ve matured a lot from last season.”
Without a contract dispute weighing him down, Pettersson has been able to reflect on how the expectations that came with his $7.35 million dollar deal affected his focus. “I came in, expectations were even higher as they should,” he said after having missed training camp. “But I was just focusing on the wrong things, what people want to see from me instead of just focusing on myself.”
“I don’t have the exact answer why it happened, but I like to think I’ve learned from it.
“Last season I learned a lot that no matter how good I played the first two seasons, I gotta have that same hunger,” Pettersson added. “I was training harder coming into last season, but I was just letting things get inside my head.
“For me, it’s always trying to get stronger faster.”
It should help that he has had a full offseason to both rest and prepare and have a training camp that gives the Swede a chance to ramp up into the season. Routine is something that many athletes stick to, and having it disrupted last season definitely appeared to have impacted Pettersson’s performance early on.
His return to Vancouver, reuniting with his teammates and coach, has also spurred on the belief that this is a playoff team.
“We know how good we played ever since Bruce came in and how close we were to making the playoffs,” Petterson said about seeing familiar faces and skating with his team. “I’m happy here.”
But perhaps where the team bond shines through the most is his support for friend and teammate Brock Boeser, whose off-ice struggles with his father’s health dominated most of last season.
“That’s what friends do,” Pettersson asserted. “I can’t even think of what he went through. Just shows how strong he is, to still perform the way he did with all that going on.
“I’m always there for him, to support, but he does it well on his own as well.”
With training camp only days away, Pettersson can’t wait to get back into action and get out of the gates hot. “I’m super excited,” he said. “I’ve been training hard over the summer. I’m trying to prepare myself as much as possible.”
“I’m glad I’m finally here.”
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