I am happy to share another blog entry with you guys. Many thanks to my Digital Media Team for helping me run all my social channels as well as helping to produce my game journal, blog and many other creative projects and endorsements.
2015 was quite an eventful year. World Championships in Czech Republic, active summer in Finland, the arrival of #68 to Florida Panthers and many other pleasant experiences. I am happy to mention that I am fairly satisfied with my performance during the past year. Well, of course lots of work and improvements need to be done, but overall I believe that I should be on the right development path at the moment. Huge thanks to both Panthers and National team coaches and staff, my teammates, my off season coaches in Finland, my family and friends who keep supporting and encouraging me to work harder and keep improving my game.
I think we had very strong season-ending in 14-15 and got a small boost of confidence that was transferred to the ongoing season. We have young and talented guys on the team who are hungry and motivated to play in the playoffs. In addition, we are lucky to have very experienced icons like Jaromir Jagr, Willie Mitchell, Roberto Luongo, Dave Bolland, Jussi Jokinen, Derek Mckenzie, Brian Campbell and Shawn Thornton who are very determined to compete for the Stanley Cup and keep our team together through their leadership skills. I think we have the kind of squad that can be the next playoff competitor in the NHL and I will do my best to make this happen.
Since Jaromir came to our team it has been an unbelievable journey. I have to say that he is a great role model to all ice hockey players in the world. Jaromir has unbelievable work ethic and it seems that he never gets bored of this sport. It is quite awesome from him to stay late after the game and do some conditioning training. Even during the holidays he can be spotted at the gym late working out and obviously having fun doing so. He gave me a lot of good advice and tips on the ice. But I think, what is more important is the fact that by watching him working out and preparing for the games I realized that it’s all about hard work and dedication. To be able to stay on the top for such a long time, you must sacrifice a lot and fully dedicate yourself towards the sport. I wish the best for Jaromir and will work day and night to help him and the rest of our team to compete for the Stanley Cup this year.
Another positive experience for me during the past summer was the participation at IIHF World championships in Czech Republic. I was honored to be invited to the national team and represent my home country for the first time at such level. We played really well during the preliminary round and even beat team Russia in the last match. Sadly our journey ended short when we lost to Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. I was still pleased with all the action and experience that we had during the tournament. Finnish hockey fans are simply amazing. I have heard the stories that during the Worlds, Finns are always the loudest and most dedicated fans of them all. It was finally so cool to see and hear their support during the games.
After the Worlds, I took a small break and went to Monaco with my mom and brother. I was supposed to forget about sports and any physical exercises for several days, but ended up walking almost 100 kilometers in 4 days and playing 2 full length tennis games with my brother. It was ok though, because I had really good time in Monaco anyway. I went to try my luck in casino, ate some tasty French food and saw some exotic cars such as Bugatti Veyron and Lamborghini Aventador. I am definitely a car person. Fast and loud cars are always an attraction for me and in Monaco there were plenty of them.
When I came back from a short break in Monaco, I started my summer training right away. I was supposed to take few more days off, but for some reason I just felt like training and couldn’t wait any longer to get back in the gym.
In general my summer went really well. I managed to get in pretty good physical form, improve some of my weak spots and at the same time have a good and healthy rest. Furthermore, I did start several cool projects with my Digital Media Team such as Barkov Golf School and Skullcandy Earphones endorsement. Although, I enjoy very much spending the summer in Finland, I started to miss South Florida and the NHL action. Upon returning back to Florida at the end of August, I started my final preparations for the upcoming NHL season. Before our team had any scheduled training, I trained individually as well as with my father who organized pretty effective off ice physical exercises on the beach and in the gym. My father is pretty experienced and probably knows me and my abilities even better than I do. My brother was also in Florida at that time so we did pretty nice daily activities such as going to Miami Marlins game and eating some tasty food.
I was very much expecting the start of the season and felt pretty confident when we finally begun our journey with a home starter against Philadelphia Flyers. Everyone on the team was feeling great and excited to be back in action. We had that game 7-1 and already at that point there was a feeling in the air that this could be our season. Of course it was too early to feel that way, but we all were extremely motivated and dedicated to give our best and fight for a playoff spot this season.
Looking back at the first half of the ongoing season, I have to say that we had our ups and downs. We started the season well, had a small downhill in early November and probably the best December in Florida Panthers history. Personally, I’ve had pretty decent season except that small injury when the puck found an unprotected spot on my hand. I had to take a small break, but never allowed myself to get frustrated as such accidents are pretty common in Ice Hockey and all you can do is stay strong and move forward.
Today is January the 5th 2016 and we are about to play Buffalo Sabres on their home ice. We are having 9 game winning streak and will definitely go for the 10th win in a row. I will do my best to help my team keep showing strong effort and achieving our main objective which is getting the playoff spot and fighting for Stanley Cup.
I am humbled before our fans in Florida and the rest of the world who give us motivation and energy to give our best during each game. We will try hard to pay you back with our ice hockey and work day and night to contribute to our common victories in the future. Furthermore, I would like to thank my supporters in Finland who stay up late to watch our games and even fly to Florida to attend our games. I really appreciate your support and apologies for not being able to meet each one of you after our games. Will see you back in Finland during the next summer!
I wish everyone healthy and successful 2016! My next blog entry “Ice Hockey Player’s Life on the Road” will be out during next summer. I will let you in to our daily life on the road and tell about some cool places that we have visited during our journeys.
All the best & stay safe! – Aleksander Barkov & my Digital Media Team