MONTREAL - After being acquired from the Winnipeg Jets and signing a one-year contract with the Canadiens, we caught up with forward Joel Armia, who continues to train in Finland.
How are you approaching this season with the Habs?
JOEL ARMIA: I think every season I go into, I try to play better than the season before. That's my goal, for sure. I try to get better every single year. It's a fresh start. Everything's kind of new, but I feel like it's a good thing. I just want to win games. That's the only thing that matters. I hope I can bring some help offensively and defensively, but the main thing I really look forward to is winning games. I'm just trying to work hard every day on the ice and give my best. I can't do more than give everything I've got. I really hope it's going to take me to the next level.
You put up more and more points with every passing season in Winnipeg. What was the key to that steady progress there?
JA: Just getting to know the guys. We had a good group. I think last season I was more consistent than I'd been before. That helped me, too. If I had a bad game, I learned how to kind of forget about it quicker and not think about it. Usually I'm too hard on myself. If I make a mistake, I think about it too much. But, last season I learned how to forget about it and move on.
You'll be joining a good Finnish contingent in the locker room with guys like Artturi Lehkonen and Antti Niemi. Do you know anyone else on the roster, though?
JA: I know Nicolas Deslauriers, too. I played with him in Rochester. I really liked him. I think he's a really good teammate. He plays a heavy game.
How's your training been going so far this summer?
JA: I've been working a lot more on my skating and speed. I think that's going to help me more and more on the ice. The game is getting faster every year, so skating and speed have been the main focus. I'm training with a couple of guys in Pori who play pro in Finland. I've also been working in Helsinki with Teuvo Teravainen and Esa Lindell, and a couple of young guys who've been drafted. In Helsinki, they have some good skating coaches. That's where I go every other week to work. I'll spend about three days there at a time. I also get my off-ice workout programs there and train in Pori. It's been a good summer so far.
Are you doing anything different this offseason training-wise?
JA: I think really working on my skating technique. It's been fun to try something different now. I think it's really going to help me. I was looking for something so I could take the next step as a hockey player. I thought it would be good to try something new. I'm training hard to get ready for the new season. I want to come to camp in good shape and just be ready.
You recently met up with Jesperi Kotkaniemi in Pori, right? You played in a charity game together?
JA: It was really good to see him. Last time we met, he was just a little kid. It was fun to meet him and I really like him as a person and I think he's a really good player. We were actually playing against each other. The game looked like bad summer hockey, so you can't say much about the game. (Laughs) But, he looked good. We talked before and after the game. It was more like a getting to know each other kind of thing. I really enjoyed it.
What does the rest of the offseason have in store for you?
JA: It's just going to be training and spending time with family and friends in Finland. I know they're really happy for me to get a new start somewhere. I think I'll be coming to Montreal a couple of weeks before training camp. That's my plan right now. I'm really excited and happy to get a fresh start. I'm just excited to meet my new teammates.