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What an year it’s been already for former Detroit Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula.

He joined the triple gold club Sunday, on home ice, when Finland defeated Canada, 4-3, in overtime to claim the 2022 World Championship gold medal. The victory comes three months after Filppula, 38, captained the Finns to the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. 

He achieved the first jewel in the triple gold club in 2008 helping the Wings win the Stanley Cup championship. 

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The Finns trailed, 1-0, going into the third period. Mikael Granlund scored twice in under two minutes, and Joel Armia put the Finns up, 3-1, with 14 minutes to play. The Canadians pulled their goalie twice and managed to make it 3-3. Sakari Manninen secured the gold medal when he scored at 6:42 of overtime before a jubilant crowd at Nokia Arena in Tampere.

FIlppula, again serving as Finland’s captain, had three goals and two assists in the tournament. 

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The Wings drafted Filppula at No. 95 in 2002. He made his NHL debut on Dec. 15, 2005, becoming the first Finnish player to suit up for the Wings. An underrated passer with a sound defensive game, Filppula established his value as a versatile center who could play both special teams. 

Filppula left the organization in 2013 to join the Tampa Bay Lightning, signed by Steve Yzerman, who was briefly a teammate before retiring in 2006, and was named general manager of the Lightning in 2010. Filppula spent nearly five seasons with the Bolts, and was traded at the 2017 deadline to the Philadelphia Flyers because Tampa needed to clear cap space and open a spot to protect a player in that summer’s expansion draft. Filppula went on to also spend a season with the New York Islanders.

When he was a free agent again in the summer of 2019 — and with Yzerman installed as GM in Detroit — Filppula rejoined the Wings on a two-year contract. He celebrated his 1,000th career game on Feb. 1, 2020. 

The Wings weren’t interested in re-signing Filppula last summer, as the emphasis turned to younger players. That led Filppula to head to Europe to play, signing with Geneve-Servette HC in Switzerland. When the NHL pulled out of the Olympics in December because of rising COVID numbers, that opened the door for Filppula to take a starring role on the Finnish national team. 

Contact Helene St. James at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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