STOCKHOLM Ė Steve Stamkos has become a premier goal scorer in a short period of time. In his five NHL seasons, Stamkos has scored 40 or more goals three times. At the World Championships since 2010 he has 15 goals in 21 games. Stamkos spent some time with IIHF.com answering questions that you, the fans, sent to the Team Canada sniper.
With the Olympics few months away, do you feel the pressure at a personal level at this World Championship to bring your game to a higher level and show Hockey Canada that you can provide leadership and clutch goals at the international game?
Jerry Homolka, St. Catharines, Canada
This is the third time Iíve had to represent my country at the World Championships. You jump on that opportunity, thatís what I think anyway, especially in an Olympic year. You want to show what you can do on the national stage and national ice. You want to show the Hockey Canada management team that you can perform at this level. Every year it is important and Canada hasnít fared well the past couple of years so we want to make sure we get back on track.
What is the coolest thing you've learned about Sweden so far?
Lauren Cheng, Vancouver, Canada
It seems to me like it the city that never sleeps, to be honest. I really didnít know how light it is out late in the evening until 10pm and then again at about 4am or 5am. Iíve been fortunate to play with a couple of Swedes in Tampa and they gave me the rundown before I came over. Itís a beautiful city and the downtown area is nice. We went down to old town a few times for dinners. I learned some of the history and that was a really good spot.
What do you do when you're not practicing or training? I know a lot of players enjoy fishing or golfing Ė are you one of them?
Bhaavya Srivastava, Shanghai, China
Iím a big golfer and lucky in Tampa I am lucky to be able to do that in my off days during the season. I enjoy time with friends and family. In the offseason when I am not training I enjoy playing baseball and golf.
What music have you been listening to lately?
Bhaavya Srivastava, Shanghai, China
Weíve been listening to Luke Schennís iPod. A lot of techno remixes there. I went to the Rihanna concert in in Tampa before I got here. That was definitely a lot of fun. I enjoy her music. Iím all over the map when it comes to music. Iím not a big music listener but whatever is new on the radio I get into.
What has been the most unforgettable moment of your career so far?
Navid Sanchez, Turku, Finland
Thatís a tough one because there are so many. My first playoff experience getting into the conference finals losing Game Seven to the eventual Stanley Cup champion is something that sticks out. When I scored 60 goals for the first time was pretty amazing. Being drafted first overall, winning gold at the World Junior Championships. Itís tough to pinpoint one. Unless I can win an Olympic gold, World Championship gold or Stanley Cup then I think thatís when you have that big moment. Until then there are a bunch of close seconds.
I would like to know what was his favourite NHL team growing up!
Markus Nisius, Germany (via Facebook)
The Toronto Maple Leafs. I was a Toronto area kid who grew up idolizing the Leafs and watching them. Itís obviously great going there and playing them in front of friends and family. I remember the first time I did that which is another pretty cool memory for me.
What is the hardest part of adjusting to the larger ice surface?
Paul Heather, Toronto, Canada (via Twitter)
I think it is just sometimes you have beat a guy twice when he has that much time to get back, especially when as a North American team and you come over here and these European teams are so structured and play really well defensively. You think sometimes there is going to be more time and space to move but there really isnít. That is something weíve had to adjust to as Canadians and for me to adjust to now as Iím playing another position on wing instead of center. It took a couple of games for me to figure it out but hopefully weíve got things figured out.
What is the best thing about being a hockey player?
Zach Wikipuff (via Twitter)
Playing hockey for a living. Nothing like playing a game that you love and started doing as a kid. Itís amazing to say thatís your job. A lot of sacrifices have been made to work extremely hard to get where you are but it is great to say that something I love and passionate about is my job.
What's it like playing with players around the league that you wouldn't normally get the opportunity to play with?
Hannah Reed, Maryland, USA (via Twitter)
Itís amazing playing with some of the best players in your country. Guys are playing different positions. It takes a couple of games to get that chemistry but itís amazing when it starts to click. It makes it easier when you are playing with guys who have that caliber of talent. Normally back home you are going up against those guys every night but to have the opportunity not only to play with them but get to know them on a personal level you realize what great guys they are. That is a fun aspect as well.
Do you prefer the wrist or slap shot?
Juris Raudulis, Livani, Latvia (via Facebook)
I would say wrist shot, just because there is not a lot of time and space on the ice anymore to get off a slapshot. The majority of slap shots I take are on the power play or a one timer. I enjoy taking slapshots but overall in your game with the amount of defensive structure and the amount of back pressure with other teams backchecking you donít have a lot of time to shoot. The goalies are so good that it gives them a chance to set, so Iíd say the most effective shot is a quick wrist shot.
What does it mean to him, if anything, that he has Macedonian roots and does he ever plan to visit the motherland of his father?
Samoil Petreski, Skopje, FYR Macedonia (via Facebook)
Iím definitely very proud of that. My parents were from there. I still play in a golf tournament, the Macedonian Open, back in Toronto. I would definitely love to visit there. I know my dad has been back before. To know your heritage and be part of that would be great to visit.
Who were your idols/role models when you were growing up?
Ville Pietilšinen, Finland (via Twitter)
My parents. Apart from my parents I was a big Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman fan. Those were players I tried to pattern my game after. I wasnít the biggest guy back then and neither were those guys but they were winners and true leaders who played big. I looked up to them.
Which opponent do you think is the biggest rival of Team Canada at the World Championship?
Lucka Petrasova, Partizanske, Slovakia (via Twitter)
Thatís a good question. I think probably a tight call between the US and Russia. The last few years of international success Russia has enjoyed they have become a big rival again and renews the one that goes back to the Summit Series. Our North American counterparts form a rivalry. Who could forget the 2012 gold medal final in Vancouver. Every time you play the US you want to beat them because you usually know a bunch of guys on the team who you play with and you donít want to give them bragging rights.
What do you think about Claude Giroux?
Roberts Licitis, Riga, Latvia (via Twitter)
I think he is a great player. Claude is a good friend of mine and a great guy. To actually play in the tournament here with him is really cool. You see some of the plays heís made here and realize thatís why Iíve had some of the goals Iíve scored because he has unbelievable skill. You never know if you will have the chance to play with someone like that again but hopefully I do at future Team Canada events and you never know in the NHL but heís a great leader and an honor to play with him.
Youíre playing wing in the World Championship. Would you ever consider doing that in the NHL? Or do you feel more comfortable at center?
Mike Mihm, Lakeland, Florida, USA (via Twitter)
I definitely feel more comfortable at center because thatís my natural position. Iíve never played wing before and we talked about that as a team but you leave your ego at the door when you play for Team Canada and do whatever is asked. When you look at all the great center men you have in Canada, you realize you might have to play the wing. A goal of mine is to play in Sochi if we are allowed to play for the team. I might have to play the wing there if I am on the team so I may as well get adjusted now, especially on the big ice. That is definitely an adjustment. I found myself coming to the middle of the ice a lot but itís been a great experience for me.
What have been your best experiences while playing for team Canada?
Jonas Ornebjerghus, VśrlÝse, Denmark (via Facebook)
Winning a World junior gold was special. I won a silver medal at the World Championships a couple of years ago when we played in Switzerland when I was coming off my rookie year. I wasnít really expecting that call to come over. We had a good tournament as a team and for me personally it was something that helped to build my confidence heading in the next season and helped me as a player in the NHL. I say this tournament was a jump starter to my career.
Isn't it annoying for you, that the Maurice Richard trophy has won Alexander Ovechkin this year? Last few games you was scoring leader of NHL.
Juraj Hudak, Bratislava, Slovakia (via Facebook)
(Laughs) Alex was on fire at the end. It was disappointing not to win, especially when our team was out of the playoff mix. You have to give credit where credit is due. Alex was scoring at a goal a game pace over the last twenty or so games that is tough to keep up with on a daily basis. Itís nice to see Alex back in fine form. Thatís a big rival for us in Tampa Bay going against Washington and that will obviously change somewhat with realignment.