On Friday, hockey fans in Zagreb, Croatia got to see the fantastic Dynamo Moscow, without a doubt the best hockey team outside the NHL. Their ‘pest’ is also a fantastic player, one particularly familiar to Leaf fans – Leo Komarov. Our beloved Finnish grinder is doing a bit of everything in the KHL, including throwing opponents off their game. In last night’s 5:0 trashing of Medvescak, he managed to get Hugh Jessiman thrown out of the game on a major penalty for spearing; the former Rangers prospect completely lost his mind…
‘Yeah, you know, they’re supposed to know who I am and everything, it was a little stupid of him, I just did my job’, said Komarov who leads the team with 28 points in 36 games. After some quick words about the game, KHL.hr’s Danijel Jelenek and yours truly talked to Leo about his NHL journey both prior and after the game against Zagreb’s Bears.
You played very well for the Leafs last season. Do you see yourself coming back next year?
‘Yeah, I’m trying to get back to the NHL and I hope some team will pick me up. But it was my decision to leave (the NHL) too, we’ll see if it turns out to be a good decision or not.’
Did you leave because you wanted top six minutes?
‘No no no, I’m not that kind of a player, everything was good with the Leafs and I really enjoyed it there. But I didn’t get the offer I maybe wanted, and I wanted to play a lot of minutes over here (in the KHL) because it’s an Olympic year and I knew that if I came back to Dynamo I’d get a lot of ice time. It’s hard to say really, I liked the team, the city, everything – coming back (to Russia) was a hard decision.’
If you do end up returning to the NHL, would you like it to be with the Leafs?
‘Oh yeah, I enjoyed it there, it was probably the best time of my life. I was really happy to play with the Leafs and I hope they are going to take me back, but you never know what’s going to happen. They hold my rights until July and I would love to get an offer from the Leafs.’
What was your favorite goal in a Leafs jersey?
‘The first one against the Montreal. I’ll remember that whole my life.’
Do you still watch them this season?
‘Yeah, I follow them really closely.’
You can find the full interview with some more really great Leafs content over at KHL.hr, your source for glorious Finnish pests and news about the Kontinental league. In all honesty, we quite enjoyed talking to Leo, who seemed as much as a fan of the Leafs as the two editors conducting the interview or anyone here at the Hot Stove. Personally, I do feel this team misses Komarov and, as you can read in the rest of our interview, he misses Toronto.