As many players travel home for the summer, crossing the Atlantic to see friends and family in Europe, the chance arises for local media to do native-language features, often more open and with a different perspective than the North American media coaxed out of them.
Jacob de la Rose was one such player, being a guest on Magnus Nyström's podcast in August. Nyström is one of, if not the, best hockey writers/podcasters in Sweden. It was an honest interview and, of course, it was focused on his performance over last season, and de la Rose's time with the Montreal Canadiens in particular.
I transcribed the interview, and the highlights follow (all transcription errors are mine, and mine alone).
Jacob de la Rose on Training Camp
"When you arrive at training camp, there are two kinds of players (older players that is) that first day in the locker room: the ones that won't say a word, they will go about do their thing, and then you have the others that are super, they remember how it was and they take care of you.
"One person in particular was Brandon Prust, and he was just traded. He was fantastic with us younger guys, and used to hang out with us. It felt like he was one of us and he was a cool guy. He took good care of you. Telling us what was expected and the correct way of doing things. [Marc] Bergevin's motto to us as new guys is 'get out there, steal a place, you have a chance. I want to see you go out there and play. No one is secure, if you are good enough you'll get to play.'
"The one thing that did surprise me was that it wasn't that much of a difference from playing with Leksand [of the SHL]. Of course there is a difference, but it's not that big. They are humans as well. They are not some sort of superheroes you are playing against. It's not that big of a deal.
"At the end of the camp I had a meeting with "Coach" and the GM. I thought I was going to be sent down, they started by telling me they were surprised how good I had been, and that I had done a great training camp; if there was more places you'd be in. It's also you can only have so many one-way contracts on the team. I was quite sad; I was so close to the NHL."
"It is a huge difference between the players, every team has a first line that could potentially play in NHL. Then you have a fourth line that could possibly play in Div 1 [third tier] in Sweden. All players in the SHL could play in the AHL, probably all in Allsvenskan [second tier] as well, without making fools out of themselves.
"It's another way of hockey. It's actually the most difficult league; I think it's easier to play in the NHL. Especially after having done a few games in NHL, it's easier. In the AHL it's fucking players everywhere; there is no structure, not even a penny's worth. It's a completely different league, because no one wants to be there, as everyone dreams of playing somewhere else in principle. Everyone plays for himself, because no one will remember if you have won three AHL titles.
"But that's not the Swedish way. We haven't been brought up like that. It's always the team before "I," and in AHL it's completely different. Make sure you do what you are supposed to do, so as a Swede it becomes very difficult as we are thought to think, if we don't work together we wont go very far. It becomes a culture clash; you get fed up when you see some people that don't care. I go mental if I see that someone won't bunker down and doesn't do all to win. It fries my brain, but I can't really say anything as a 19-year-old in the AHL, and I play with 30-year-olds. I was prepared for a year in AHL, even my whole first contract.
"My role in the team is a bit different; I get to test myself against the best players, the get them frustrated, cannot really be better than that."
On Magnus Nygren
"If Nygren hadn't gotten the concussion he got, I am totally convinced he would have gotten the chance in Montreal during the season, he had an amazing start of the season and I think he led the team in points — even including forwards — in Hamilton."
World Junior Championship
"It's the best time of they year. I was part of three squads, I think it's the best thing there is to play for your national team, and the WJC is that kind of event and the interest at home is crazy - you have to love it!
"Everyone gets in touch during the tournament and think it's great! Old friends stay up the whole night to watch. It's so cool, and so cool to play with those guys. We have played together since U-16, so it's graduation day, sort of.
"Unfortunately it didn't go the way we wanted. It was the last year, I had two silvers from before and I was hoping for that gold, but it didn't go. If we had won the bronze, I think we would have felt better, because we didn't really have the same kind of squad as we have had the two previous years. Losing the last game with the team; and Slovakia, that is a team we should beat any given day of the week. To lose in a WJC Bronze game....
"I was happy with my own performance. I got to play centre; I was supposed to play wing. But after giving up like 200 goals in the friendlies before, Richard [the coach] asked me if I could play centre to get some added stability in our game. He knew I had played centre before. I thought it was fun and great, you participate more in the game as a centre. It went well personally, but I feel responsibility as a captain when we didn't win a game like that against Slovakia in the WJC bronze game. I think that is an embarrassment losing that match, but it's nothing we can change now."
The NHL Debut
"We were in Des Moines, Iowa playing cards watching the Super Bowl, and the morning after the coach comes up and says 'You are not travelling with us anymore, you are going to Montreal, and you are doing your NHL debut against Buffalo tomorrow!" The only thing I remember is the feeling in my body, I almost start to shake! Then I called my dad; he was over the moon.
"As my gear was missing after my flight to Montreal, I entered the first practice with [Max] Pacioretty's skates, shoulder pads and gloves. I just thought 'what the fuck is going on, is this twilight zone?' I had nothing that was mine, I think I had [Jiri] Sekac's sticks, it wasn't even my angle, it was 10 cm short. They came back and said, 'it should arrive in time for the game, otherwise you'll have to use this.' It had gone so bad in that practice. The skates were cut differently; I just wanted to tell them to stick it! I don't need to be there, but it was my NHL debut so what could I do?
"So I slept for four hours before the practice, and then after I slept another three hours, because I just went around hoping my gear would arrive, and when I got into the Bell Centre my stuff was there! That was so good! My gear, the NHL debut, I had gotten so many messages that everyone would be up watching. Then I was a -3 in the first period! I was thinking of saying 'Sorry guys this is not for me, just send me down again, I am going home.' [Lars] Eller told me, as we were sitting next to each other 'Just don't give a shit, it can't get worse! Its not your fault, none of the goals can be blamed on you.'
"I was called into the GM's office after the game. I got in and he told me, 'you are going down tomorrow.' That's what he started with. And I thought 'ah shit, but okay I get it.' Then he continued, 'because you have nothing with you right?' And I was like "no, I have nothing; a t-shirt and a suit. Bergevin continued, 'I guessed as much. Pack a bag, you'll be here for a while.' So I called my dad again!"
"My dad and uncle came over for my 10th game, and I had a meeting with Bergevin after where he told me I was staying. When we had our post-match meal together (my dad, uncle, and me) I told them, 'it seems like I get to stay here, I had a meeting after.' We all three were shocked! Dad asked why I didn't say anything earlier, and started to cry, he was so happy. It was a great night."
The Hockey City of Montreal
"It has been sold out for 20-30 years in a row, of course it's incredible and to be part of it. It's mostly people reminding me how big it is than that I realize it myself. For Swedes we don't understand; you might think it's huge, but ... you don't even get how big it is for a Canadian player to play in Montreal. For them there is nothing better! It's incredible. Not that many Swedes have played there either, so it makes it more special for me.
"I have only been there six months, and we topped the table more or less, and then all is sunshine. But when it goes bad, then it can't be that fun to be there. It's easy to say, but it's a bit like that in Leksand. It can't compare in a city with two million inhabitants with a town of 7000, but it's the same thing, because in Leksand it's life or death as well.
"You talk hockey everywhere, the town lives for hockey. As I said you can't compare it, but it's the same in many ways. I remember they asked me about the pressure at the draft combine, 'do you have what it takes to play in Montreal? Because not every one can. Can you?' I answered, 'I played in Leksand, it's not the same but close. I am totally convinced I can do it.' Then he said — Rick Dudley I think it was — 'so do I' completely stone-faced."
"All my teammates were saying 'I can't wait for the playoffs,' 'now the season starts.' I asked if it was a big difference, and they were like 'it's a completely different thing!" I was like 'yeah right it will be different.'
"And a big difference it was. I could never even have imagined, it was a completely different sport. You can play average in a slow game in the middle of the week [during the regular season], but in the playoffs if you weren't in it you either got drilled or it was 1-0 within a second.
"Playoffs in Montreal, that's chaos, that's the only thing everyone waits for. There are playoff things all over town. Things like flags with 'Go Habs Go,' it's on every building, so it's a really cool thing. To win the Stanley Cup in Montreal is something that I dream about."
On Carey Price
"He is the absolute coolest player I have ever played with, and as good as he is, he is the most humble person on the whole team. He doesn't say a word, he only is. And at matches as well, I don't know if you have seen it, if he saves a shot, but leaves a rebound with an open net, he doesn't hurry and throw himself, he just slides in slow motion and grabs the puck! It looks ridiculous, he looks lazy but he grabs every puck.
"He has a winning mentality, from the top of his hair, all the way to the toenails. If we don't win, one of his sticks will break in the locker room. He looks so collected, but when he enters the locker room....
"And then he is so humble. That, to me, is incredible. He is the best in the world right now, there is no contest, and you saw that at the NHL awards.
"This is cool as well: if we have a meeting in the dressing room, P.K. [Subban] or someone might say something, it's still a bit of a noise level, but if Price says anything, it's completely silent, no one says anything we just absorb every word. It's really difficult to explain when you can't see it, but he has such an aura around him. He is an amazing athlete."
The next star to come from Sweden
"We in Sweden know who he is, but even before he had the playoffs he had [breaking the Sedins' record for points by a junior-aged player with seven goals and 11 assists], Axel Holmström. I think he is fantastic, and I would love to have him in my own team, because he will always give 100%. Then he is amazing both on the defensive side and the offensive side of the puck. He is skilled, he might be a bit smaller than me size wise, but he's skillful but can also go out and kill penalties, block shots and he isn't afraid of anything, I think Detroit drafted well."
Magnus Nyström is a fantastic hockey and a great podcaster/writer if you want to give him a follow on twitter: @Nystromhockey
You can listen to Jacob de la Rose as a guest at Magnus Nyström (Swedish audio).
Full English transcription of the interview:Nyström with JDLR .