Bellemare’s passion endures
Bellemare’s passion endures
French star talks Flyers, international memories
He plays a different role with the Philadelphia Flyers than with the French national team. With Philadelphia, he is asked to be defensively responsible on the fourth line. With Les Bleus, the two-time Swedish champion with Skelleftea (2013, 2014) remains an important scoring forward in his early 30’s. Bellemare’s hometown of Paris will co-host the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship with Cologne, Germany.
IIHF.com spoke with Bellemare recently.
How do you think you’ve played this season?
Not too bad. I find myself playing a lot of minutes in 5-on-4 situations. I try to do my job, my role to kill the penalties. Otherwise, points have not come very quickly. But as long as we win the games, that's fine.
The Flyers have had two excellent rookies this season with Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov. What do you think of them?
I see their maturity. They’re coming into the league and they’re young guys. But Provorov, for example, is already playing the kind of game you’d expect from someone who’s been ten years in the league. His maturity is incredible. He is calm. It’s not often that we see it with someone so young. And Konecny plays a style where he can truly create something out of anything. It's impressive.
Last year was the first time you played in the NHL playoffs. What did you learn against Washington?
It’s different hockey. It’s a lot more fun games. For me, it was really a game that fit the style that our line played all season. Overall the ambience was something incredible. After you’ve played hockey during the playoffs, you want more.
You’ve played with the national team at the World Championships since 2004. What has changed since then?
I think that the fact that we arrived in the elite division was a cause of great happiness for the team. The French players have become players that you can go out and sign [in the NHL]. So for me, when I arrived in the French team, signing a French guy was a bit of a gamble. Whereas now, the team of France has a certain value that scouts and players and coaches and managers of some clubs in Europe see. It is the French value. We play hard. We have a lot more expat players. I think it’s because we’ve stayed in the top group for so long.
You counted the winning goal against Canada during the shootout in 2014 in Minsk. What do you remember?
For me it was really positive. Our attitude was that we were playing against Canada, and if we play our game, we will see what happens. Then also, I think they did not play their best game. Then I got to shoot during the penalties. It was a goal, it was the end of the game and we beat Canada. It was really amazing. I did not think much. I saw the shooters who tried to deke, and it did not work. I just shot the puck and it went in. It was a good time.
In September, Team Europe played against Canada in the World Cup of Hockey final. Do you think that with a little more luck, your team could have won?
Honestly, I think it would have been hard to win against Canada, but I think we deserved to win at least one game in a best-of-three. We played in a way that caused them problems, and that's how we played the whole tournament. After saying that we deserved to win one game in the final, it was true that Canada was the best team.
The mascots of 2017 are Asterix and Obelix. Did you like those comics when you were young?
Of course, of course. I read the comics, I saw the cartoons, and I even saw the movies a little later. I think they are beautiful mascots.
What sort of ambience do you think there will be in Paris in May?
I hope it’ll be a big success. I think it's going to be incredible. It is the first Worlds in France. I hope that we will get a lot of fans for all the games, and that hockey will continue to develop in France.
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