Sean Couturier is the first to admit that last season was a little frustrating. Despite taking another step forward and equaling his career offensive output while maintaining his high level of defensive play, injuries stood in the way of gaining momentum, shortened his season and playoffs.
With last season behind him and another year under his belt, he is preparing for the World Cup on a unique team, and at age 23, is ready to enter his sixth season in the NHL. PhiladelphiaFlyers.com caught up with Couturier at the team’s practice facility in Voorhees, NJ before he heads to Montreal for World Cup training camp:
Q: How has your summer been so far - what have you been doing, take any time off for vacation?
SC: “It’s been pretty good. I was recovering from my injury at the end of last season and it’s feeling really good now. I actually went on vacation to Turks & Caicos in June with my girlfriend and had a great time. We went there to meet up with one of my buddies and his girlfriend and then the timing was funny because we went the same time as Claude Giroux but we didn’t plan it out that way. We were at the airport leaving and my girlfriend took a snapchat and his did the same. We were both in an airport wondering where each other was going and as it turns out we were both going to Turks. We weren’t staying at the same place, but we were able to meet up and hang out.”
Q: You’ve been a part of international tournaments before, do you expect this one to be any different or mostly the same experience as the others?
SC: “This one’s a little different because the World Cup is only six teams, then team Europe and then there’s us with the 23 and under team. The competition is going to be a lot tighter and you need to win each game to qualify and then it goes right to the semifinals so it’s going to be important to be ready right away.”
Q: Do you see yourself as a veteran leader on Team North America, and will it be strange since it’s a combination team and you’ll be competing against Team Canada, who you’ve represented all your career?
SC: “I’m one of the older players on the team and I’ve been playing against [NHL] guys for a while now compared to some other players. I’m definitely going to bring that experience to the team and try to lead by example.”
“In a way it’s going to be a little different, but at the same time once you step on the ice it’s going to be the same game you play and you’re going to do whatever you can to win. That’s just part of our DNA to try and win every battle you can and that’s the mentality we’re going to have.”
Q: Looking past the World Cup, talk about this upcoming season and what you’re looking forward to specifically?
SC: “Last year was a good year when I was healthy but it’s kind of tough when you’re not in the lineup, injured and can’t help the team so on that side you learn how to deal with injuries. But I’m definitely heading into this year with a lot of confidence, coming into camp and trying to take another step forward to help this team.”
Q: It is more natural this year with many of the same players returning and it’s the second year with head coach Dave Hakstol at the helm?
SC: “Yeah, I think we have a good group of players and having Dave [Hakstol] back is huge. Last year was an adjustment at first but as the year went on we were a better team, we were a lot tougher to play against. We have the same group of guys so we know what to expect and we know what we need to do to get to that next level.”