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"Ask the Leafs" with Jyrki Lumme

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Welcome to a new feature on where you can ask a question of a member of the Maple Leafs each week and see selected answers posted here. You will also be able to see the answers on FanCam, one of the more popular shows on Leafs TV.

FanCam also has repeat broadcasts throughout the week so check the Leafs TV schedule.

Recently, we had the chance to do a Q+A with Maple Leafs' veteran defenceman Jyrki Lumme.

Q: Who encouraged you to play hockey and how old where you when you started?

Jyrki: Nobody really encouraged me really. All my buddies played hockey, so it was one of those neighborhood things. We had a little rink in the back yard. So, everybody played hockey.

Q: Who was your mentor growing up?

Jyrki: Well, my dad helped me out. He got me skates and took me to practices and stuff like that. I didn't really have anybody. Like I said, we were just a bunch of kids playing hockey. I think I was 10 years old when I went to my first team. And before that it was just in the backyard with the other kids after school.

Jyrki Lumme
Q: When did you know that you had what it takes to make it to the NHL level?

Jyrki: When I was growing up I never thought about the NHL. Back when NHL wasn't that big in Finland. I got drafted and after that I got an offer to come over, and I was thinking - maybe I'll get a chance ... you never know... and if it doesn't work out I'll just come back.

Q: How does it feel to play in Canada as a hockey player from Finland?

Jyrki: Well, I've been here for so long. It would probably feel odd to play in Finland right now. But, it's great. It was a long time ago when I had a chance to come over and I said - 'Hey, I'll give it a chance!' I made a trip to Canada before, so I knew a little bit about the country. I love it. It's a great county.

Q: How did it feel to put on the Toronto Maple Leafs Jersey for the first time?

Jyrki: Well, I'm on one of the original six. I played for Montreal, I played for Vancouver, so I've seen a lot of Canada. And obviously, you hear about the Leafs. Leafs are one of the big teams. So it sure was special.

Q: How does it feel to have Pat Quinn as a coach again after playing for the Canucks when he was there too?

Jyrki: I was in Vancouver for a few years, so I got to know what he's like as a coach. And I think he's a tremendous coach. So, I was happy to see him here and get a chance to play with him again.

Q: How does it feel to have the fans come out and watch every night at the ACC?

Jyrki: Every time you play a game and it's a full building of people ... it picks you up. It's one thing if you're in a building with five thousand or ten thousand people who don't really care. Playing in Toronto sure picks you up ... it's great to see all the support we get inside. It's unbelievable!

Q: What makes playing in Toronto so great as a Leaf - the fans or the team?

Jyrki: I think you need both... but obviously I think it's the fans. I think it's just the way people live and breathe hockey here. It's outstanding!

Q: How did it feel to play in the 2001 Winter Olympics with your teammate Aki Berg and to represent Finland?

Jyrki: Oh, it was pretty neat. We were actually together in '98 in Nagano too ... And it was pretty neat. Aki is a lot younger than I am and he was just a kid coming out. So, now we had a second chance and it was neat. And it's always nice to play for your country too.

Q: What would be your message to young players who hope to reach a professional level in hockey?

Jyrki: Well, have fun ... that's the main thing. I can say for myself, I was great to go out there and play and skate. Don't take it too seriously. Just have fun. When you're out there do your best, but I think having fun and enjoying yourself is No. 1. It's nice to have all the goals and you never know, if you work at it anything could happen.

Check back in upcoming weeks for the next installment of ASK THE LEAFS.
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