Changing teams is never easy for players in any sport. Especially a player that gets traded at the deadline. That is what happened to Valtteri Filppula on March 1, 2017. The Philadelphia Flyers shipped Mark Streit to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Valtteri Filppula and some draft picks. Filppula became an instant hit in Philadelphia and went on to register 5 goals, and 3 assists for a total of 8 points in 20 games played for the Flyers.
Filppula brings size, speed, and energy as a second line center. These areas were missing on the second line before the Flyers acquired him. The Filppula trade shifted Sean Couturier to center the third line. This move paid huge dividends for the 24 year old, who produced 5 goals, and 8 assists for a total of 13 points in 20 games, post the Filppula trade.
So just who is Filppula? I was recently fortunate enough to sit down with him to discuss his life after Tampa Bay.
Valtteri Filppula was born March 20, 1984, in Vantaa, Finland. The Detroit Red Wings drafted him 95th overall in the 2002 NHL Draft. For his career with the Red wings, Filppula tallied 100 goals, and 151 assists for a total of 251 points in 483 games played.
One would think that this budding star would credit his coaches for his success in the NHL thus far. However, its fiancee that helps him the most.
“My fiancee has been great. She helps me. She has been perfect given the circumstances. We have no kids yet (Laughing and Giggling). She hasn’t been here too much unfortunately. But, she has given me strength, and she makes me want to be a better player. She looks forward to coming to some games though. Unfortunately, we’re too far away for the games. She wants to watch me play.”
Filppula became a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, after agreeing to a five-year, $25 million contract with them on July 5, 2013. In his first season with the Lightning, he scored a career high in goals with 25.
For the 2014-15 season, Filppula recorded 12 goals, and 36 assists for a total of 48 points in 82 games played. That was the last season Filppula would record over 40 points for the Lightning. He recorded 31 points in 2015-16, and 34 points in 2016-17 before being traded to the Flyers.
The 32 year old rugged center, wanted to showcase his skills for the Flyers after they acquired him. He wanted to prove not only to himself, but to the fans that believed in him that he still had the goods to make it in the NHL.
“The relationship between me and the fans are good. The Philadelphia fans are good too. Not too bad from Tampa. Im proud to be a Flyer. Im a hard worker trying to get better. I think the Philly fans enjoy that. So that is good. I want to win, and I want to show that.“
During his short time with the Flyers, Filppula has shown he has the will and the skill set to continue to succeed at a high level in the NHL. He is not a superstitious guy, so there is no asking him of his game day ritual at the rink.
“No rituals at the rink on game day. I try to stay away from superstitions (Laughing and Smiling). So that’s my superstition, to stay away from that stuff (Laughing). So, I don’t get caught in all that.”
Filppula further exclaims, “I think there is more routines that we do at the rink before we play. Other than that not too much.”
The Flyers are happy to have Filppula fill the role as a second line center. He is a speedster, and one that has good hands. His vision of the ice, and hockey IQ can not be taken for granted. Filppula gives the Flyers options for this once struggling offense. The new change in scenery has been beneficial for both Filppula and the Flyers thus far. Filppula is a determined player that wants to win. Hopefully, this fan favorite continues to be a positive influence for his younger teammates next season.
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Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports