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The experienced forward Leo Komarov made his return after many years to the Finnish national team. He played a long career in the NHL, but for this season he came back to Europe and joined the KHL club SKA. The forward represented Finland in the Sochi Olympics.

”I have good memories from there. The Olympics are the greatest and the biggest tournament, where one can be in. Back then we won bronze medals and also now we aim high.”

Komarov had an answer ready, when the head coach Jukka Jalonen called him about the participation of the Olympic tournament. The decision to leave North America, the NHL and New York Islanders wasn’t easy.

”The decision to join was easy. Everybody wants to be in such big tournament and also do I. The step to come back to Europe was a big one for me. It took a couple of weeks to get into the KHL rhythm, but as I got some games on my belt, I’ve been doing better. We’ve gained some wins and now getting ready for the playoffs.”, he said.

In the age of thirty-five Komarov isn’t among the most fresh players anymore. There are also perks of having been around for a while.

”Hope I’ll be able to stay on with the pace. The younger players are so good these days and us older guys try to catch on. Having experience helps as we know each other and in the Finnish national team there always have been good players.”

One among the others

Komarov doesn’t feel like he should teach his team-mates in any way as everybody is a professional athlete in the team.

”I don’t need to tell anybody anything, because everybody knows where we’re at. I only show what I’ve been taught, when I was younger. I am just my own self and that’s the most important thing there is.”

The forward hadn’t been in the national team since the season 2016–2017. Until then he was a regular face in the roster for many big games.

”I was having many seasons with a ton of games. I had also participated in every national tournament and then there was the birth of my child. I got to spend time with my family and to calm the situation down. As I’ve grown older, I’ve understood that the career doesn’t last forever. Obviously coming back to Europe was partly because of the Olympics and the return to the Finnish national team. I also got a good offer from SKA.”, Komarov expalined his thoughts.

The winger is well-known for his gritty style and his ability to speak in many languages, including at least Finnish, English and Russian makes him an irritating player to compete against for sure. Head coach Jalonen hasn’t mentioned anything about the role to him yet.

”We’ll see as we get to Beijing and things clear up. We’ll see, how the things are then.”, Komarov said.

Markus Granlund gets ready for his first major tournament in the adults national team

As for his teammates, for Salavat Yulaev forward Markus Granlund answering positively to the head coaches call was a pleasure to do.

”The decision to join was easy. I wanted to get in and the invitation was a big honor for me. I have good memories about the Olympics that I’ve been following. These are always big games and it’s amazing to get in there myself for the first time. Of course I expect that we do well as a team and be able to iwn something great. There sure are some questionmarks, but hopefully everybody gets there healthy and we play well.”, Granlund said.

Markus, the brother of Nashville Predators forward Mikael Granlund, hasn’t made his debut in the adults national team yet, even though he played a plenty of games in the junior teams representing Finland. He hasn’t thought about the lack of national team invitations lately.

”I’m not sure if I was surpriced about that, because I didn’t think this as I was younger. Now it’s about time and hopefully evrything goes well and I get to wear the lion jersey. We have a competitive team and a good chance to do well. The important games start right from the get-go and we need to win to make it.”

The covid situation keeps everybody on their toes approaching the Olympic tournament. Granlund tries to keep following the regulations in order to make the dreams come true.

”I am not in control of things, so it’s no use to second guess. We’ll take things as they come. We test ourselves and try to stay healthy. Wearing masks and having a good hand hygienie are important in the process.”, he stated.

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