COLOGNE – You sent us the questions, we sent Risto Pakarinen to pose them to Germany’s Marcel Goc. The Nashville Predators’ 26-year-old forward leaned back, listened, pondered the questions, and delivered the answers before heading to the Qualification Round. Enjoy.
What you felt in front of 77,803 spectators in the match with Team USA? (Iuliu Becze, Romania)
It was a great atmosphere and it was fantastic for us to get to be a part of the event. Everybody’s going to be talking about if for a long time. And it turned out to be a good start for the tournament for us.
Everything looks a little different when you’re down there yourself. We had goosebumps when we walked out there.
It was pretty loud, it was tough to talk to each other out there. But the louder the better. The energy level and the adrenaline go up in a hurry with the noise.
What are your feelings when you look up to the German flag and listen to the national anthem? (Philipp Küster, Cologne, Germany)
Pride, joy. You can see it on everybody’s faces.
Now that the record for the largest attended hockey game goes to Germany, do you think these 2010 IIHF World Championship games will drastically boost the interest of hockey in Germany? (J.K. Robbins, Nashville, Tennessee)
I think the record game helps, a lot of people watched it on TV; it was sold out in a hurry as well. It helped that we played a good game. Our Federal President Horst Köhler was there, he came to the dressing room afterwards. Maybe he’s a new fan, too.
I think it’s always good to host the World Championship, a lot of fans come to the games. Even if we’re not playing, the fans from other countries come to support their teams. For us, the more upsets we can make and the more hockey gets into newspapers in the not so big hockey countries, the better.
What do you think does the German ice hockey association have to do, to come closer to the top nations like your long-time rival Switzerland? (Hiroshi Masuda, Tokyo, Japan)
I think a big part is the youth development, that’s the way of the future. We have a young and good team here. Physically we’re all in good shape, we can compete, but a lot of it is, knowing how to take the right decisions with the puck. We’ve played well here, even if we lost 1-0 to Finland, but hey, it’s Finland, they’re a good hockey nation.
Where are the key areas of which German hockey needs to improve in order to compete for medals? (Jaroslav & Yvette Homolka, St Catharines, Ontario)
Oh, boy. First, I think you need a lot of players. Just look at Canada, they could suit up five or six teams that would be competing for the medals. Again, it’s about kids, the grassroots movement. In Germany, everybody plays football, but I think we have the right concept with hockey now, and if they build it here in Cologne, and in Mannheim and Berlin, things get better. Not all the teams have the same resources, another issue in German hockey. Then you need coaches who know how to teach and what to teach the kids.
Did you play football? (Risto Pakarinen, IIHF.com)
Yes, but I quit when I was 14. I had to choose between hockey and football and my brothers played hockey. My Dad was our coach and played a little, so I stayed with hockey.
What do you think about the import rule (12) in the German League? Would you like to see the number increased or decreased? (Tyler Bauerschmidt, Winnipeg, Manitoba)
The fewer imports the more German players get better roles and more ice time on their teams. We need the right mix because the league also has to stay good and competitive. It hurt German hockey when they got rid of the limit completely, and many German players had to go down to the second division. When I played here, the import rule was at 15.
What did you and your teammates do in Vancouver at the Olympics after you were done playing games? Did you go to the village or the city or perhaps to other events? (Tommy Carter, Windsor, Ontario)
I stayed just one more day to take a look around the city, and then I went back to Nashville.
How is your role different in Nashville and Team Germany? (Tomi Terttunen, Espoo, Finland)
I play more and I have a bigger role on the national team, including power play. However, my plan is to get a bigger role with the Predators as well.
What is the most challenging thing for players transitioning from the NHL to international play? Or is it challenging at all? (Sarah Fuqua, Franklin, Tennessee)
The system is different so that’s an adjustment. But, every coach has a different system. He draws it up on the board and then you play. It’s a little different here because of the size of the rink. I came late to this tournament so I had to get to know the rest of the players. Most of the guys know each other well, they’ve played in the junior national team together. I just have to make sure I fit in.
There aren't many German players in the NHL. Still, you were lucky to have Marco Sturm and Christian Ehrhoff with you in San Jose. Was it important for you to have fellow countrymen in your team at the start of your NHL career? (Tomi Terttunen, Espoo, Finland)
It helps to have countrymen in the dressing room. Marco had been there for a while and knew his way around. I could just go and ask him, that was good.
Being captain of the German national team, do you see yourself wearing the 'C' in the NHL any time soon? (J.K. Robbins, Nashville, Tennessee)
I think there are other guys before me there to get the C, but I do want to get a bigger role on the team.
Does the jersey number you wear have any significance? (J.K. Robbins, Nashville, Tennessee)
The 57 was my first number at my first training camp, I don't know why, I got it at the Central Scouting test camp. I came back to Germany and played on the same team with my brother Sascha who’d come back from North America and he was older so he chose his number 7, which was also my number. I took 57 and kept it here in Germany, and kept on playing with that in the NHL, as well.
Who were your hockey idols growing up in Germany? (J.K. Robbins, Nashville, Tennessee)
Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky. I hadn’t actually seen that much NHL hockey before I went over there. And then there was of course my brother who did everything I wanted to accomplish, just five years ahead of me.
I’m a big fan of international cuisine. I was wondering, what are some of your favourite dishes from the Black Forest region where you grew up, and do you ever cook for yourself? (Tanya McLean, Nashville, Tennessee)
I am actually quite a good cook. My favourite dish would be maultaschen, which is like ravioli, but bigger.
Have you learnt to like country music while staying in Nashville? (Tomi Terttunen, Espoo, Finland)
I don’t mind it. I don’t own a lot of CDs so I just listen to whatever is on the radio.
Is it fun to play against your NHL teammates in international games? Do you taunt them (in good fun, of course) on the ice or use their known weaknesses against them? (J.K. Robbins, Nashville, Tennessee)
Yeah, I spoke with Pekka (Rinne) before our game against Finland. Of course, I’d loved to trash talk a little but unfortunately, he didn’t play.
What do you miss the most about living and playing in the Bay Area? And are you in touch with any of the guys on the Sharks? (Samuel G. Roth, San Jose, California, USA)
We made a lot of friends there so we miss them. We stay in touch with them, with Skype and all that. But for me, the change was good and I’m looking forward to playing in Nashville again.
I know that while you were in San Jose, you and Christian Ehrhoff were able to enjoy some remnants of home from the German community there. How has life been like for you in Nashville? (Klari Alvaran, United States)
There was a nice German restaurant in San Jose that we went to every once in a while. We didn’t hang out there every day, but the food was pretty good there. There are Germans in Nashville, and even something called German town, but we haven’t tried the restaurant there yet. My wife cooks German food at home … and I’m a pretty good cook as well.
What did you enjoy most about playing in Cleveland? You have many fans who still cheer for you here. (Dan Galvin, Unites States)
We had a really young team there and a lot of the guys made it to the NHL, some play in Germany. We were a good group and we’ve stayed in touch as well.
What is your opinion of the KHL, and would you consider playing for a KHL team some day? (Arkadi Kovalenko, Moscow, Russia)
I think it’s a really good league, there are some big names there, in addition to some Russian players that could play in the NHL. However, I am fully focused on playing with Nashville.
Is it hard playing on teams when other players don't speak the same language as you? (Matt Lerner)
It's not a big problem, everybody pretty much speaks English. On the national team, I sometimes start saying something in English and then realize that I can speak German. On the ice, it’s all German with the national team.
Your old San Jose teammate Vesa Toskala had several difficult seasons in Toronto before getting traded to Calgary. Do you believe he has a future in NHL? (Juha-Matti Säilynoja, Turku, Finland)
He’s definitely got what it takes, he was a great goalie for us in one playoff series. He’s had to fight through some injuries, but he’s definitely a good goalie.
Who are the best friends you've made in the NHL? (Tomi Terttunen, Espoo, Finland)
Besides the Germans? Milan Michalek, and Jonathan Cheechoo. Kyle McLaren.
Thank you, Marcel.