Editor’s note: Here’s a bit of a special treat this morning. One of our longest tenured and favorite community members, Henri Muroke of Finland, had the opportunity to chat with Dallas Stars 2012 third-round draft pick Esa Lindell, defensemen with Jokerit in the Finnish SM-liiga.
Henri did all the work to set this up, do the interview in Finnish and translate it to English for our enjoyment. A big thanks to him and Esa both for helping to enrich the site with this exclusive content. -Brad G. Take it away, Henri…
Note: I want to thank several people who were involved with this interwiev. Esa Lindell of course for doing this. Team Jokerit and goaltending coach/Director of Hockey Operations Markus Ketterer for making this possible and my friend Santtu Talja for helping with the material involving Jokerit. This man is the Brandon Worley of Team Jokerit.
I caught up with Esa Lindell earlier this week in Helsinki. He has been playing with Jokerit regularly this season and we talked about some things involving Team Finland, Jokerit and Dallas Stars.
Henri: You were with the U20 National team in Eurohockey tournament in Russia. What kind of experience was it and what kind of role did you have in the team?
Lindell: The tournament was a pretty nice experience and my role with the team was pretty big. I played a lot and also had lots of minutes with powerplay and penalty kill.
Henri: What’s the difference between playing the U20 National team and Team Jokerit in Finnish Elite league? How would you compare these?
Lindell: They are not that different. It’s easier to compare styles between countries. For example, Canadians and Americans always hit you hard and give you no space and their forecheck is also very good. Then there are teams that play tight five men defensive game.
Henri: What’s the difference between the U20 and Finnish Elite League, when you have to keep the defensive zone clean? In Finnish Elite League there are lots of veteran players like Niklas Hagman, how much does that affect?
Lindell: The players are much stronger in Finnish Elite League. In Russia the rink was also bigger than in Finland and therefore the players have more time.
Henri: You had lots of success with Jokerit U20 and scored lots of points. Is your role with Jokerit similar? And do you get to play during powerplay?
Lindell: I get to play during the powerplay almost in every game. In Finnish Elite League the game itself is much more about tactics and sometimes younger players will sit during the final minutes of the game.
Henri: What kind of culture Jokerit has with younger players?
Lindell: You will get your opportunity, but you have to make the best out of it right away. If you make lots of mistakes, there’s a chance that you will have to sit for a while.
Henri: What’s different in your training now, compared to earlier years?
Lindell: I usually practice twice a day, even during the game days sometimes.
Henri: You have played in the same team with players like Erik Karlsson, Ossi Väänänen and Jere Karalahti. What have you learned from them? Any specific tips?
Lindell: Erik of course taught a lot when the topic is the offensive zone. Väänänen and Karalahti have taught a lot when the topic is the defensive zone. These players are really good in what they do. The tips are mostly, how to play in the defensive zone.
Henri: Your defensive pair/partner has been Jeremy Dehner for the most part this season. Do you have specific roles and how well can you communicate with American born player during the game?
Lindell: Nothing specific. We’ll communicate pretty well with my English, which is a good thing since I need to practice it a bit more.
Henri: You played one game as a fourth line center. What was the biggest difference in that position compared to your normal position?
Lindell: I had more liberties in my game, than I would have as a defenseman.
Henri: Let’s go across the pond; Dallas Stars drafted you. Can you describe that moment?
Lindell: It felt pretty unreal. It was a really good feeling to hear your own name and savor the moment.
Henri: Were there any specific moments from that weekend that were your favorites?
Lindell: The first round itself was really cool. The way you just watched players getting picked one by one.
Henri: You have been in the Stars development camp twice now. What kind of experience the camp was?
Lindell: Pretty good experience. I was there only one week, but I learned a lot. The training is somehow different and you practice scoring much more than in Finland.
Henri: Any specific memories about the organisation or coaches? Were there any specific players you remember?
Lindell: Everyone seemed highly motivated. I saw some different coaches, but they were all as motivated. From my first camp I remember Brenden Dillon pretty well, I really like his game. This year Valeri Nichushkin was one name to remember.
Henri: What can you tell about Dallas Stars? Do you follow the team nowadays and do you have a favorite player?
Lindell: I have been following them a lot more after they drafted me. I think my favorite player would be Brenden Dillon. I really like his two-way game and the way he broke through was pretty amazing. I have been following him the most. Jamie Oleksiak and Patrick Nemeth are also really gifted players.
Henri: What can you tell about the city of Dallas and the state of Texas?
Lindell: Not much, I’m sorry. Dallas was pretty hot and there were lots of skyscrapers.
Henri: How much do you think about the potential future across the pond and how much does it affect you?
Lindell: I believe that I will get a chance to show what I’m made of eventually. I think about the future sometimes, but my main focus is in Finnish Elite League and with Jokerit right now.
Henri: Defending Big D is the biggest fanmade blog that’s about the Dallas Stars. Do you want to say something to readers?
I think it’s great to hear that there are blogs like this. It’s cool to see that people are really excited of their team.
Lindell’s future might well be in Austin one day, with the Texas Stars, and after that in Dallas, but right now his main focus is only in Finland. Jokerit will still be a part of Finnish Elite League this season and Lindell will be a part of that ride. Eventually the team will join the KHL, but right now it is not relevant to the players. Their main focus is for this season. What happens after that, is another story.
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