March 1, 2017
Roman Josi(info about Roman Josi)
Swiss hockey seen by an offensive defenseman
Photo – Copyright John Russell (Nashville Predators)
With good puck control and his known skating abilities, Roman excels since numerous seasons with the Nashville Predators. Without a doubt, he is an defenseman who likes to participate on attack. Nevertheless, the player from Bern is a defender who plays on both sides of the ice. Initially, he made his development as a hockey player in the Swiss National League A where he played mostly for the junior and senior teams of his hometown. During the Hockey World Championship (IIHF) in 2013 which took place in Stockholm, Sweden, he represented with success his country by accumulating nine points in ten games. In the process, the Swiss Team took the silver medal. His performance has given him the title of most valuable player and best defenseman of the tournament. Certainly, the Swiss hockey player who likes to skate with the puck has not finished haunting the opponent’s defence. With the numerous seasons that he still has before him, it is for sure that his offensive incursions will repeat a lot more.
Development of a hockey player from Switzerland
Thomas Kieller: Is hockey very popular in Switzerland in comparison to other winter sports like alpine skiing, snowboarding and mountaineering?
Roman Josi: Yes, it is pretty popular. Obviously, skiing is very popular too. It’s one of the main sports in Switzerland, but hockey is definitely up there. There is snowboarding also. However, I think hockey and skiing are the two most popular winter sport.
Thomas: Why did you choose to practice hockey?
Roman: My brother played hockey. So, I started to practice it because I saw him play and I wanted to do it as well. I used to play soccer but I stopped in order to focus on hockey.
Thomas: Concerning minor hockey in your country, is it well developed with a lot of facilities and coaches? And was it a good platform for you in order to improve your hockey skills?
Roman: Oh yeah! It was great. I think it’s getting even better and more professional. There are definitely a lot of ice rings. I remember that I was living just five minutes from an arena. There are a lot of rings out there. So, yes there are a lot of opportunities for the young kids to play hockey and to get better.
Thomas: You have played several years with SC Bern Jr. and after with the senior team SC Bern of the Swiss National League A. After that you made your leap to the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League (AHL) and the next step was with your current team in Nashville in the National Hockey League (NHL). Is there a big difference of culture if we compare those two cities to your hometown Bern?
Roman: I feel it was not that different. Obviously, the language is the biggest difference between the two countries but other than that there are only small things which differ. Of course, you have to adjust a little bit. However, I always had a lot of friends to help me out in Milwaukee and then in Nashville. So, it was not really a problem for me.
Thomas: If we go back to your country, what should be improved in the Switzerland hockey system to increase popularity and especially the quality of hockey players?
Roman: The Switzerland hockey team must get good results at the world championships. When we won the silver medal in 2013 at the IIHF World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden, everybody was watching hockey in Switzerland and there was a big hype around the team. So, by getting good results and getting more and more players to play in the NHL, the popularity and quality of players will improve.
His role as a defenseman
Thomas: As an offensive defenseman, how do you like to dictate the game during a power play or in "5 on 5"?
Roman: I think for me it is important to join the rush. I have to say it’s hard in this league. Nevertheless, you must always try to make some odd man rush on the ice. So, I try to jump with the forwards in order to get a "3 on 2" or a "4 on 3", etc. Concerning the power play, I’m on top at the blue line. I want my shots to get through to the net and see what happens. Also, I try to pass the puck to the flanks in order that my teammates can get some good shots towards the net.
Thomas: The Nashville Predators have a good defence unit since many years. Does the team involve a lot of the defensemen in all aspects of the game?
Roman: Oh yes, I think so. Our coach Peter Laviolette really wants the defenseman of our team to join the play and make something happen for the offence. All of the coaching staff embraces that strategy and it helps us as a player.
Thomas: There is always some place for improvements. What do you want to improve as a hockey player (skills or strategy wise)?
Roman: Of course, I think there is always a lot of room for improvements. I believed I can do a lot of things better. First, I can be a more physical player. My defensive play can be improved such as my handling of the stick. Another thing that I want to improve is my shot which can be better in order to get through or to pick a corner of the net. So, definitely there are a lot of things I can do better.
Thomas: Thank you Roman for sharing some information about your country and concerning the game of hockey.
Roman: Ok. Thanks. No worries.
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