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Elias Pettersson: ‘It was basically two different mes out there’

"I’m somewhat happy I went through it because I know how I got out of it."
Elias Pettersson media scrum in Burnaby
Elias Pettersson spoke to the media after an informal Vancouver Canucks scrimmage in Burnaby on September 13, 2022.

No one needs to tell Elias Pettersson that he got off to a bad start last season — he’s well aware. 

The Vancouver Canucks’ star forward was back in town on Tuesday and scrimmaged with his teammates at Scotia Barn, formerly Burnaby 8 Rinks. Afterwards, he spoke with the media and was blunt about his struggles.

“We can be honest, my start last season wasn’t the way I wanted to start,” said Pettersson. “I’ve grown from that and learned why it happened and why I had the second half of the season, why I played like that. It was basically two different mes out there.”

Canucks fans might hope that there are literally two different Elias Petterssons — not including the one the Canucks drafted in the third round this year — because then he would have an ideal linemate for him to play with, like a return of the Sedin Twins. Alas, his use of “mes” was merely figurative.

"I know how I got out of it."

The shift from one me to another seemed to happen in mid-January shortly after the Canucks’ had multiple games postponed due to COVID-19. Up to January 15, Pettersson had 17 points in 37 games. After January 15, Pettersson had 51 points in 43 games. 

“I was just playing with a lot more confidence in the second half,” he said. “I’m somewhat happy I went through it because I know how I got out of it, if that makes sense.”

When it was suggested that some of the blame rested on injuries or other factors, Pettersson refused to shift the responsibility away from himself.

“I mean, not really,” he said. “I wasn’t playing with as much confidence as I’ve always been. With all the answers in hand, it sucks it happened but I’m also glad it happened because I got experience from it and I took myself out of it.”

When asked if he was feeling better going into this season than last season, he laughed and said, “Yeah, I hope so.”

“I had a good summer of training, didn’t really go on any vacation,” he added. “I was just working out all summer trying to prepare myself as much as possible.”

"I was just focusing on the wrong things."

Pettersson said he didn’t have the “exact answer” for what went wrong to start last season, but he said that he let things get inside his head. He said he trained hard heading into last season but his focus was misaligned.

“I came in, expectations were even higher, as they should be,” said Pettersson about returning after the start of training camp with a new contract. “I was just focusing on the wrong things — what people want to see from me instead of just focusing on myself…I like to think I’ve learned from it and I can tell that I feel a lot better coming into this season.”

What stood out from the brief media availability was how comfortable and relaxed Pettersson seemed. He was cracking jokes and laughing, with no tension or discomfort.

“I just realized, I haven’t talked in English for a while,” he said with a laugh at one point while trying to find the right word. 

After, when asked if he got any help with the mental side of the game, he deadpanned, “I don’t want it to be a headline that 'oh, I met a mental coach and now I feel good again,'” then quickly added, “I didn’t do that.”

Not that it would be a bad thing to see someone for your mental health, but Pettersson clarified that he talks things through with his parents, brother, and the other people closest to him. 

Hopefully, the people closest to Pettersson have helped him enter the season with confidence so he can be the best “me” he can be.