Gogulla to Sabres confirmed for 2009-10

Many thanks to Henrike Wöbking of Haimspiel.de for his recent interview of Philip Gogulla. Below is a select snippet, while the entire translated version can be viewed here. Despite the bad season for the club you scored a career high of 17 goals this year, most of them playing with Christoph Ullmann and Marcel Müller. Was that also a “sought and found”-kind of line? At the beginning of the season I was still on a line with Kamil Piros. Doug Mason [Coach for the Cologne Sharks 2005-2008] told us, he still had to find out who is going to be on our line, as Ivan wasn’t on the team anymore. The lines were put together well and he also didn’t want to separate us. So I played the first three games of the season with Kamil, then I went to Buffalo for training-camp, and when I returned Doug was gone. [Doug Mason got fired after the team lost its first seven games of the season.] They asked me if I would play with Ullmann and Marcel Müller. I said, sure, I’d love to. From then on we played together for the rest of the season. I think, we fit together pretty well. Doug always told me, your biggest problem is, you need to shoot the puck more often. I did that this year, whenever I had the chance. It’s great that it resulted in the most goals I ever scored in a season. Doug was absolutely right. He told me over and over again to just shoot. He said I have a good shot. That’s why he played me on the blueline [on the powerplay] a lot. He kept telling me, if you can’t shoot you have to pass, but if you have a chance to shoot just do it. That’s what I tried over the last couple of years. It worked out pretty well, I guess. I still like to make the final pass in a two on one situation, though. I consider myself rather a passer than a shooter. The 2008 playoffs have been your best playoffs so far. You’ve been a big factor in the success. I don’t think I ever saw you that focused before games like you were during that run. That was one of the most awesome periods of time I had with Cologne. I get goose bumps right now, just because it was so great back then. Really. We were listening to the same music in the locker-room before every game. I was really focused, like you said. I wanted to win the championship so badly. Coming up short in the final game was bad luck. I was completely focused. For example, in that game against Mannheim which went to the sixth overtime, I knew any mistake would be lethal. It was a tense situation. I wanted to win so badly. During that overtime I never had the feeling we could lose the game. Never in my life before did I ever have a feeling like that. I knew we were going to win that game. God having me scoring the winner was flat out amazing. The coach trusting in me and letting me play helped a lot. I just went out there and played, I guess. Scoring twelve points during that run was pretty good. The playoffs in prior years never felt like that. Over your five years with Cologne the attention you got from the media increased significantly. Did you have to get used to that? You bet. When you join a pro-team as a sixteen year-old it is something special. You were always excited and afraid of saying something wrong. I even was nervous at all the season openings when I had to go on stage and talk to the fans. It was tough. But over the years you get used to it. You are still a little bit excited but I think I’m doing quite well. I realized that journalists are normal people, too, who just want some information. Are you ready for the media circus in North-America? That’s going to be a whole different animal, of course. Even at preseason games there’s always so many camera teams rushing into the locker-room after games. It’s completely different compared to here. Hockey writers covering the Sabres think you should come over for the next season, as staying in Germany would not help your development anymore. Do you think so, too? One should mention that the DEL is a very good league. And it’s challenging, also. To say, if I stay another year I’d score 25 goals and 70 points, would be completely wrong. That just wouldn’t be the case. The league is becoming closer and closer every year. I don’t know if it really wouldn’t help my development if I’d play here for another year. I think, it’s simply time for me to go over. Two years ago I signed a three-year-contract. I know if I don’t give it a try overseas now, the window might be closing for me. If I don’t give it a try, I’d regret it for the rest of my life. As the season ended for the Cologne Sharks that early, theoretically there would have been the possibility to join the Portland Pirates for the remainder of this season. Would you have done it if they had approached you? That’s a difficult question. I think it’s always difficult when a player joins a team shortly before the playoffs. Not only for the team, but for the player as well. I don’t know if I’d be comfortable coming in and taking the spot of someone who did play for that team the whole season. Tough to say, if I would have done it. Also, the nationalteam might be calling soon. I would really have had to think about it. I probably wouldn’t have said no right away, but I would have had to think about it thoroughly, for sure. A year ago you were quoted by a German newspaper “NHL or I will not go”. Did you really say it like that back then? Yes, that’s always been my philosophy. I thought to myself, why should I play in Portland? I tried to compare the leagues [AHL and DEL] a little bit. I don’t know exactly, how it is over there. Of course it is a different game, but the guys, who came over here, said the DEL is a little bit better than the AHL. Plus you don’t make that much money over there, you don’t get a car and an apartment. Here you get all that and you make good money. Why should I go over if I’m playing for a top-notch club in Cologne and have the option to stay here? Now I have to go over. And today it would be naïve to say, I’m not going to play in the farmteam. I absolutely expect to be in the farmteam all year. If I get the chance to get called up once in a while – say if the Sabres run into injury trouble – I would be very, very happy. Are you concerned about adjusting your game to the smaller ice? A little bit. It is a different game and it’s more intense physically. You’ve got less time to do something. I realized that. You have to pay attention every single second. It’s incredible. It’s completely different. You literally have no time. Did you ever talk with Felix Schütz about which is the better way to make it to the NHL as he had a different approach than you spending time in the QMJHL? I think, that’s always hard to tell. He has the advantage of knowing how the small ice works, but he also returned to Germany after two years and gave it a shot in the DEL. I was lucky to have Hans Zach as a Coach [in Cologne, as he likes to work with young German players]. If it wasn’t for him I might not be where I am today. It’s really hard to tell. One guy is trying it this way, another guy is trying it a different way. Since you’ve been drafted you went to trainings-camp every year. Did you get any feedback from the coaches? What did they tell you to work on? I’ve been to the rookie-camp twice and also twice to the main-camp. When I returned from the rookie camp I was in great shape. I felt really good. But it’s a tough grind. Last year was the toughest camp I’ve ever experienced. Even in my first year I thought, this is tough. But last year they cranked it up another notch. It’s a little bit difficult, because they don’t see me play in Germany. Basically all they say is: good luck und keep working hard. That’s what I do. In the gym as well. At the rookie-camp you don’t get any feedback. You just work hard for a week. At the other camps they give you a “well done” once in a while, but that’s pretty much it. This year’s trainings-camp will be a whole different animal. How do you approach that? Are you already thinking of the time when the cuts will be made? Well, I will just try my very best. I don’t go in there thinking, I have to make the big team. That’s not going to work. I know I’ll end up in Portland. That’s how I approach it. If the coaches think I can do better than that, that would be absolutely awesome. But in no way will I be disappointed if it is going to be Portland for me. Right now I focus on the nationalteam. But once I’m at the camp, I’m sure I’ll be nervous. To say it will be any different than that would be a lie. Since you got drafted you knew you would have to leave Cologne at some point. Did you prepare for this moment all those years or didn’t you give it any thought at all? For the last two years I knew this day would come. When I got drafted it all seemed so far away. Very far away. I always wanted to win a championship with Cologne. I didn’t accomplish that. I always gave it my best for Cologne. As long as I was playing here I didn’t really think of Buffalo that much. I was watching their game highlights occasionally, but that was pretty much it. While I was playing here I never thought, wow, next year you’ll be in Buffalo or Portland. I didn’t think that right to the end. Then the season was nearing the end and there were only five games left to play, then three and then our final home game. In Ingolstadt, where we played our last game of the season, I sort of thought everything over during the final period. My whole career here just ran like a movie in my mind’s eye. I thought, strange, this is over now. Then I took off the jersey for the last time. At that point it was over. Later that week I enjoyed the season wrap party with the fans. But the sad part is, it’s always over so quick after the season ended. The same goes for the players. The guys all just leave suddenly. You never get to see them again. For example, saying good-bye to Frank Doyle, not knowing where he will play next year. I’ll probably never see him again. Same with Todd Warriner. Within one week after the final game it’s all over. In your dreams, what do the next fifteen to twenty years in your career look like? In my dreams I become a great hockey player – also for the German hockey -, spend many years in the NHL and make a lot of money. My biggest dream would be to win a championship. But the most awesome thing would be to raise the Stanley Cup at some point. There is no bigger dream for any hockey player in the world than to win the Stanley Cup. That would be a dream come true.
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