Q&A with Roman Josi

By Holly Gunning

Roman Josi was the Nashville Predators‘ second-round pick in the 2008 NHL draft, 38th overall. The 6’1, 19-year-old is coming off a good year with Bern of the Swiss-A league, in which he had 24 points in 42 games from the blue line. At the end of the year the offensive defenseman was selected to play for Team Switzerland in the World Championships, which were held Apr. 24 – May 10 in Bern and Kloten, Switzerland. He also played in the U20 WJC (Division 1), scoring four points in four games.

This week, Josi participated in his second Predators conditioning camp, which brings together the team’s prospects for on and off-ice programs. Josi was the roommate of top prospect Colin Wilson for the week.

Hockey’s Future caught up with Josi after the last on-ice session. The affable Josi clearly enjoys being at the rink.

HF: Do you feel more comfortable this year at camp?

RJ: Last year I didn’t know anybody. Now I know more guys and it’s really fun. You know how it goes, what we do in off-ice, so I’m more prepared.

HF: What’s your favorite part of camp?
RJ: I think the Widjiwagan, the camp where we went [for team-building exercises]. That was fun, we were climbing some stuff. The ice exercises were fun too because we haven’t been on the ice in two or three months.

HF: How much were you skating at home before you came here?

RJ: After the World Championships, three or four times, that’s it. We were lifting weights and doing conditioning.  We are practicing with (Bern’s) conditioning coach.

HF: So you felt good coming into this camp?
RJ: Yeah, I was working out for like six weeks so I felt pretty good.

HF: How did you do on the testing?

RJ: I could be better. I’m not that good at testing, but I’m working on it and it gets better every year and that’s the main thing.

HF: Which test do you think you need to improve on the most?

RJ: On bench press I’m not that good.

HF: How much did you bench press?

RJ: 195. Most guys do more I think.

HF: Playing in the World Championship this year must have been exciting.
RJ: Yeah, it was. It was a really good experience, to play against the best players in the world. It was really fun, especially in my hometown. I live five minutes from the rink and I could walk there.

HF: Were you really surprised when you got picked, or just happy?
RJ: Both, a little bit. Training camp was one month before, and then they let us go and we’ll see what happens. Then — how can I say that — it became more and more like real to get on the team. I was surprised a little bit, but at that moment I was just happy.

HF: You knew [Predators new director of player development] Martin Gelinas from playing with him last year in Bern. Is that the first time you met?

RJ: He came to our club in January. He played half of the season with us. So we played together and worked out together and I really learned a lot from him. He has so much experience and how he works out and everything.

HF: Since he’s so much older than you, is it more like a father/son relationship?

RJ: Yeah, it could be (laughs). He had 19 seasons in the NHL and you look up to him and try to learn and watch how he does on the ice and off the ice.

HF: How old is he compared to your father?

RJ: He is 39 I think and my father is 45 or 46.

HF: What have you been doing to work on your English back home?
RJ: I play with a lot of Canadian guys on the team so I speak with them and I’m going to classes for English once a week. Mostly I learn to speak with the Canadian guys.

HF: What kind of classes do you take?
RJ: It’s a school but I can go whenever I want. I don’t have to go like on a Tuesday or Wednesday — I just go and I have headphones and they’re speaking English and I’m repeating.

HF: So it’s more individual.

RJ: Yeah, it’s individual.

HF: This year you’ll play in Switzerland again and then the year after, do you think you’ll come over here?

RJ: I hope so, yeah. My goal is to come here after a year there.

HF: So if Nashville offers you a contract you’ll accept it.

RJ: Yeah.