Kontiola embraces ‘do or die’ opportunity with Leafs

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Petri Kontiola was a dominated player in Finland’s top league and excelled in the AHL, but he played in only 12 games with the Chicago Blackhawks before he put his aspirations of making it in North America behind him by shifting to the KHL in 2009-10.

He’s been a productive player in the Russian league over the last five seasons, but hasn’t been able to completely move on from his failed NHL bid. At the age of 29 (30 on Oct. 4), he’s decided to try to make the leap one more time by signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It’s kind of like, people have been asking me how did it go over here,” he told the National Post. “And I said I’m done with that. I’m going to play somewhere else. But still, in the back of my head, I was thinking that I’m not done over here. So that’s why I’m back.”

He inked a one-year, $1.1 million contract in July, but he needed to spend 20 million rubbles (over $500,000) to terminate his existing contract with Chelyabinsk Traktor.

Kontiola feels this is a “do or die” opportunity for him and this could certainly be his last chance to prove that he can contribute in the NHL. He’ll have to hit the ground running given that the Leafs have 18 forwards signed to one-way contracts.