‘I’m happy’: Elias Pettersson on staying in Vancouver, teammates, and being the potential next Canucks captain
Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
The last time Elias Pettersson was a guest on Hockey Night in Canada’s After Hours program was during his Calder-winning rookie season in 2018-19. And a whole lot has changed since then.
“Yeah, my English is better,” Pettersson said slyly after watching a clip with Scott Oake and John Garrett during his appearance last night after the Canucks’ 6-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
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Pettersson’s return to the program comes at a time when the Canucks need a new public voice for the locker room after Bo Horvat’s trade to Long Island. And with Pettersson considered the heavy favourite to become the franchise’s next captain, his future in Vancouver is of prime concern to fans.
Despite the horrendous season around him, Pettersson has put together a tremendous year. His five-point game against the Flyers helped him break his career-high of 68 points with over a quarter of the season still to go. And Pettersson maintains he’s happy as a Canuck.
“I’m happy. It’s a great city to play in, and obviously, there’s been some down years now. But I’m focusing now on finishing the season well, and then I’ll deal with what’s ahead.”
“I don’t like to focus too much on what’s ahead, I like to live in the moment.”
When asked if he would be willing to sign a long-term extension in Vancouver, Pettersson said he would be.
“Yeah, I am. But, again, it’s something I don’t like to focus on now. I know we can, or I guess we will, discuss that in the summer. So looking forward to that, but at the moment I’m just focusing on right now.”
But Pettersson is arguably the only player whose future as a Canuck is as solidified as he wants it to be. The same can’t be said for the vast majority of his teammates, on a team sinking out of the playoff picture with the NHL’s trade deadline looming.
One player whose name has been in plenty of those conversations of late is J.T. Miller, and Pettersson made it clear how valuable Miller is as a teammate with an all-time quote.
“He’s a guy who wants to do everything to win and he’s a great teammate. I know obviously, there’s people who want to… [pauses] …I don’t know if ‘shit on a player’ is the right word,” Pettersson said quietly to chuckles from Oake and Garrett.
“You can say that at this hour! No problem!” Oake said with a laugh. Pettersson quickly apologized before continuing.
“He’s passionate and all he cares about is winning. And yeah, he plays with a lot of emotion and so does the rest of the group.”
Pettersson’s comradery with teammates also came up when asked about the moment on the bench where Andrei Kuzmenko began eating a banana and drinking a mysterious liquid out of a paper cup mid-game.
“I don’t know if he’s gonna give me shit, but I asked if it was coffee and he said ‘No no, Pepsi. Pepsi, brother’,” Pettersson said with a laugh.
For all his jokes off the ice, a lot has been made about Pettersson’s quieter demeanour on it and whether or not he’s suited to be the Canucks’ captain because of it.
But regardless of what people think, it sure seems like it isn’t an issue for the franchise. While the 24-year-old Swede acknowledged his quieter personality, he also didn’t shy away from the fact that he’s certainly in consideration for the Canucks captaincy right now.
“That’ll definitely be an honour. But for me, I don’t want to stress or rush into a decision,” Pettersson said. “I’ve never been a captain. Everyone knows I’m a pretty quiet guy. So it would definitely be an honour, but I want to take my time thinking about it in the summer and make a decision.”
We’ll certainly see how it shakes out come next season.
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