What’s this camp like for you, not only physically but mentally as you come back with a year under your belt in this organization?
Kasperi Kapanen: You kind of know what to expect. It’s good to be around the guys and to start camp. I think everybody is really excited to go out there and give it their all. Last year was a good time, but this year I’m going to try to be better. We’ll see what happens.
You win a World Junior Championship and you get to go really deep with the Marlies. How important was that experience, Kasperi, as you move along as a professional?
Kapanen: It was a good experience. Obviously, winning something for your home country is huge. Doing it in Finland was a big thing. We had a good run with the Marlies, but a disappointing end. But you grow as a player and a person during that time, and I feel ready right now. I’m excited for the future.
Five or six games against Hersey has to do something, and the seven against Albany, in terms of allowing you to grow as well.
Kapanen: Oh yeah, for sure. They’re good teams. I thought we played well against all three teams we played against in the playoffs. We just kind of ran out of gas in the third round. I can’t really say much more about that.
It kind of felt like you ran out of gas rather than ran out of talent, if you know what I mean.
Kapanen: Yeah. That team has so much talent. One of the most talented teams I’ve ever been on. It’s not about talent. Seven games against Albany – it takes a lot of energy out of you. We just couldn’t get it done.
Is that something that, as you and the other guys get older, you’ll have the better stamina as it were?
Kapanen: For sure. I think it’s kind of an excuse saying we ran out of gas, but that’s how I felt. I was getting tired. Like you said, it wasn’t about talent or the way we played or anything like that. It’s in the past. I’m excited for the future.
How much did that season help you in terms of your development skill wise, speed wise, adapting to pro hockey?
Kapanen: It was a good year. It was an exciting year. There were a lot of ups and downs. After World Juniors, I think it really started going upwards. I got to play a couple of games with the Leafs last year. It was a good experience. Like I said, I grew as a person and a player. You play with different players, and you play well and you get chemistry for the next year. Like I said, I’m just really excited for this year. We’ll see what happens.
Are you surprised at what happened to Finland in the World Cup? Who gave you the most grief about it?
Kapanen: Obviously it’s not fun to see your home country play like that. It’s not like they didn’t play well, but they just couldn’t really score. It’s disappointing. You always want to see your team win, even if you’re not playing on the team. Nobody has really said anything to me yet, but probably Willy will let me know.
He hasn’t let you know yet?
Kapanen: Not yet, but I think he’s smart enough to not get me pissed off.