STOCKHOLM – Ten years ago, the New York Rangers drafted Swiss defenceman Philippe Furrer in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. A decade later after battling injuries, Furrer, 27, still hopes that hard work, good health and success here at the World Championship can help create a way for him to eventually play in the NHL.
IIHF.com’s John Sanful spoke with Furrer about his future goals.
What are the keys to Switzerland’s success so far?
Philippe Furrer: The keys to our success start with team spirit that we have with this group. We stick get and everybody works hard to keep up the momentum and maintain our flow. It’s amazing what we can do when we work together and I think we’re seeing it here in this tournament.
There seems to be real team chemistry among players on this team. Why is that?
I think it has to do with the mix of players. We got team players and some young kids on the team who have a lot of energy that they bring to the team that helps them succeed at this level. We play the kind of system where we don’t let the opponents to our net and play tight in our zone. It is good what’s going on right now.
What’s the mood among the team right now with this win streak?
It’s good. Everyone wants to keep improving. We want to get better from game to game. It’s a perfect run right now but the hard games are going to come for sure and we need to keep it up and grab as many points as we can get.
When you were drafted by the Rangers in 2003 what did that mean to you at the time?
It meant a lot but after being drafted I’ve had back luck with injuries in my career. I always felt that I didn’t want to ever go over just to try out, I wanted to bring my best and make the club. But I never felt good enough with my body and in dealing with the injuries to make it over. Now it is different and I’m healthy and we’re having a good tournament so you never know what’s going to happen.
Can you talk about the injuries you’ve suffered?
My body is better than ever. I had hip surgery in 2003 and pretty bad broken hand in 2005 and had ligament and shoulder programs and two concussions but now I feel that my body is great. I’m fit and playing some of my better hockey.
The World Championships are a proving ground for players who have not been drafted or drafted late by NHL teams to catch the eye of scouts and general managers. Do you think this World Championship will create opportunities like that for you?
For sure it is a big opportunity because it is the chance to prove what you can do against the top players in the world. Actually it is the tournament to show something. With our team it is time to show.
When you attended Rangers rookie camp you competed with Brandon Dubinsky, Marc Steal, Ryan Callahan. When you see these players in the NHL does it still motivate you to make the NHL?
It does. To tell you the truth when I attended that rookie camp I wasn’t ready at that point but now it is a different story. Let’s see what happens.
When you say you weren’t ready was it due to being so young at the time?
I think in 2003 the draft wasn’t that big in our country. When I got my first pro contract at 17 with Bern it seemed clear to play for the team that I signed for in Switzerland. And then the injuries happened. Over time I think there was less interest by the Rangers because of the injuries but here I am still working on proving myself. I think I’ve made some big progress over the last few years. We have a new coach in Bern, Antti Törmänen, who’s made me a better player. I have more responsibility in Bern and that carries over here at the World Championship.
If you were to leave for the NHL or North America you’d be leaving Bern, a place and a team where you’ve basically grown up and matured.
The last few years I’ve been thinking about what it would mean ending my career there. I actually feel pretty good because this year we reached the third championship in Switzerland. I have reached my career goals which very easy on for me was three Swiss championships. Now it’s about having new goals and for sure the NHL has always been a goal for me.
This World Championship experience must be exciting?
It’s been good because everyone is focused on the job. I don’t look too much further past the next couple of weeks. I am just looking at one day to the next. I think we have a really good spirit after games and stay loose. We know that there are big games coming up for us so that’s a good sign for our team too.