Hockeysverige.se’s Ronnie Ronnqvist posted an extensive interview with new Red Wings defenseman Patrik Nemeth today, and here’s a rough translation thereof:
Why the NHL Swede chose Detroit: “There needed an addition to the back of the defense”
He didn’t stay in Colorado–and landed a more lucrative contract in Detroit. To Hockeysverige.se, defenseman Patrik Nemeth tells about the years in Colorado and the left he hopes to earn with his new team.
“When you come to a new team, there are new eyes that see you and you really have the chance to make a [good] first impression,” he says.
Patrik Nemeth had a rather tough introduction to the NHL. He traveled over to join the Dallas organization in 2012. He played five seasons, but a nasty wrist injury yielded him not securing a position on the team. For the last two seasons, he’s been playing for Colorado, which was a boost for the 27-year-old from Kista. There he received a lot of playing time and good defensive responsibilities. Before the upcoming season, Nemeth became a free agent on July 1st, and it was Detroit that chose to sign him.
“It’s a process that you go through. The interview period starts a week before the first of July. It’s teams who interview and check your interest. then your agent asks the teams, ‘Where do you see him playing?’ In the end it sifted down to a handful of teams where everything felt more concrete and real,” says Nemeth when hockeysverige.se meets him for an interview on the Tyreso Strand.
“Detroit spoke with us and we had a good dialogue from the very beginning, so it felt natural to me that we chose them.”
What was it that caused you to choose Detroit?
“It was pretty much a gut feeling that I went after. The chat I had with the coach (Jeff Blashill) and assistant GM (Ryan Martin) felt good.
Detroit also has many young players coming up right now, which I find very interesting. And it’s fun to play in Detroit with the history of the team. Everything simply felt good.
“Sick and deep team”
Although Patrik Nemeth has played in the NHL since 2013, he’s not played against Detroit too many times, but he followed the team in advance because many of his Swedish friends have played or play for the team.
“I’ve been in the other conference and didn’t play in a huge amount of games against Detroit. But I know how they have been for a long time, and the way that they want to play, because I followed Detroit due to all the Swedes who were there.”
“They’ve always been a skillful and deep team that was at the top of the NHL for 25 years. Now they haven’t been in the playoffs for three seasons, but it seems like they have a philosophy that they want to stick to. In addition, as I said, Detroit has many young players coming up that I think will be good.”
A Swede who isn’t certain today whether he will play in Detroit next season is veteran Niklas Kronwall.
“He’s been very helpful to Detroit. If he continues to play, he’ll definitely contribute. He’s been a world-class player for a decade.”
“And the personality he has in the locker room is very important. Especially if you have a young team. He would be a welcome addition if he can play, but we don’t know that right now. We’ll see how he feels. It would be fun to have the chance to play with Kronwall.”
Nemeth had contact with Kronwall before signing with Detroit.
“Yes, I did. He just said good things about Detroit. Now that (Steve) Yzerman has joined the team, he believes that it will be good, which I also believe.”
“My role is going to be colorful”
How do you see your role with Detroit?
“It feels like they needed to add a bit on the back side, which is one reason why I signed. Then my role is a fresh product as well. There are always players who aren’t planned for in the picture, and then they play and you find a place for them on the lineup. Or, on the contrary, if you’re not performing, then you fall off.”
“Sure, you can have some thoughts as to where you’ll play somewhere, but you must always perform. That’s been my case that I’ve learned over the years that I’ve been over there,” says Patrik Nemeth with a smile.
Do you expect to have a primarily defensive role on the team?
“Yes, that’s the player that I am, playing stably and being reliable. I will play effectively with the puck, be tough to play against in my own zone, on the “penalty kill” and play against good players. That’s the role I’ve earned over there and the one I want to play.”
“When I talked to the coach and GM we had the same idea of what to do. It was also the reason why I wanted to join them.”
Over the past two seasons, Patrik Nemeth has been in Denver playing games for Colorado.
“It was a good time there. When I got there, Colorado was a team that had a tough season before.”
“I liked the team very much and we had a good team. In addition, it was fun to play with ‘Gabbe’ (Gabriel Landeskog) again. Colorado has something good going on.”
“Then it was fun to play the game, play hockey and help make the team turn around a bit. Now they’ve gone from a slump to having two playoff runs back-to-back with many young players on the team who want to move forward.”
Patrik Nemeth has followed Gabriel Landeskog’s leadership, and watched his playing skill at close range, and is impressed but not surprised by what he’s seen.
“I’ve known ‘Gabbe’ for a long time, and he hasn’t changed at all. He’s always been the same person.”
“‘Gabbe’ is a very good leader, very consistent in what he does, and he always steps up and is always present. In addition, he’s a very skilled player who does very many right things. I’m not surprised that things go as well as they do for him.”
Gabriel Landeskog is also an example for Colorado’s young players, according to Nemeth.
“If I were to build a team, he would be one of the people I would build the team around, the way he runs the group and plays himself. It’s not just a quick bite but he does everything as he says he will. In this way, he’s very honest.”
“He’s a very, very good leader for that team. Colorado should be grateful that they have him.”
Meanwhile, in Dallas, you were hurt…
“Yes, that time wasn’t as fun,” Patrik Nemeth laughs, and continues:
“The time in Dallas, in retrospect, was very educational in terms of how to deal with setbacks.”
“The idea was that when I got there from the AHL, I would be part of their future. Then I got injured and was gone for almost an entire season. Suddenly I stood there and everything didn’t go as planned.”
“It was also tough for the two seasons after that. I was in and out, here and there, and I didn’t earn the confidence of the coaches. They were two really tough seasons mentally, but afterward I learned something from it as well.
“Didn’t work in Dallas“
Do you feel that in Colorado, you took the next step in your career?
“Yes, absolutely. There they had a role that they wanted me to play and it went better and better in that role the longer time went along.”
“I got the chance I wanted in Colorado, so it was a good time for me to take the next step.”
Would you have left Dallas yourself to go to another team?
“Yes, it just didn’t work in Dallas. I didn’t get anywhere at the end of my time there. In addition, they had nine defensemen and had to get rid of someone. It was expected that something would happen.”
Were you surprised that you didn’t continue with Colorado, given that you had a lot of playing time there?
“No, we had conversations and talked about an extension, and so on. It has to work for both sides. There were a lot of people there, too, and I didn’t really know which way to go. Then this option came up, which felt better.”
A new team, a new organization, how do you want the season to start?
“A giant week, actually. It will be fun and exciting. It’s always interesting to come to a new team, and you want to take the next step. When you come to a new team, new eyes will see you and you really have the chance to make a good first impression, so it will be fun,” Patrik Nemeth concludes with a smile, before we go out into the almost autumn-like weather to have him put on Detroit’s game jersey for the first time.