The Making of a Swede Team

By on February 12, 2016


Nicklas Lidstrom (L) Team Advisor Team Sweden and Rikard Gronburg Head Coach Team Sweden scouting NHL Swedish players at Amaile Arena in Tampa (RSEN photo)

Nicklas Lidstrom (L) Team Advisor Team Sweden and Rikard Gronburg Head Coach Team Sweden scouting NHL Swedish players at Amaile Arena in Tampa (RSEN photo)

Tampa, Fla. — It was so refreshing I was able to clear my schedule and get to Amalie Arena this morning for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators morning skate. After all, this is a huge home-stand for the Lightning after coming off the “O” for Canada.  A two game, north of the boarder roadie that ended with losses to Ottawa and Montreal on back to back nights. Real “Klunkers” as Jon Copper referred to the games. 

What I did know was this morning I would get some good insight for today’s show as the Lightning embark on this crucial 4 gamer at home vs. the Western Conference teams.  What I did not know, I would get an opportunity to speak to, a man what many a hockey marks would say is the “greatest defenseman” to ever lace them up, Nicklas Lidstrom.  A twenty year career with the same team, and list of accomplishments that would make a Nobel Peace winner awe struck is just enough to get the Lidstrom conversation started.

When Hockey Hottie pointed Lidstrom out, he sat center ice approximately 15 rows up, I thought, great!!! Maybe Steve Yzerman is talking him out of retirement? I said in my half facetious tone.  Lidstrom sat there with another gentleman who we later met along with Lidstrom, Rikard Gronborg.  Gronberg is the head coach for the Swedish National team and Lidstrom and Gronborg are in Tampa this weekend scouting the Swedish players for the team.  So neat!  Where it all begins.  “The Making of a Swede team,” I thought.  We all see how NHL teams are built, drafting, AHL, free agency, trades and so on.  But the making of a national team, something to think about.

Rikard Gronborg has put time in Sweden’s hockey federation. He’s been a scout, an assistant coach and head coach. He has been an assistant coach for the Swedish National team for nearly a decade.  Nicklas Lidstrom is on the Swedish National team advisory board with Daniel Alfredsson and Mats Sundin.  Wow, you think there’s some hockey IQ there?  

At the time I spoke with the gentlemen, the Nashville Predators took the ice for their portion of the morning skate activity.   The Tampa Bay Lightning had already finished and the only two Swedish players on the Lightning did not participate, Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman.  Lidstrom said, “We’ll scout them playing the game tonight.” When I joked about coming out of retirement Lidstrom smiled and said, “No too old.”  The Hockey Hottie said, (Referring to the Coors Field alumni game between the Avalanche and the Red Wings.) “Well your playing pretty soon!”  He said, “Yes in Colorado, I’m looking forward to it.” 

Lidstrom said that they where in the the United States for a week.  “We are here in Tampa for tonight and Sunday and then we are heading to Phoenix.”   The Coyotes host the Montreal Canadiens on Monday the 15th and the Dallas Stars on the 18th.   

I did a quick estimate of the Swedish players playing in the next two in Tampa and then two games in Phoenix and came up with 21 players.

Tampa Bay Lightning:  Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman

Nashville Predators:  Victor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Mattias Ekholm, Peter Granberg

St. Louis Blues:  Patrik Berglund, Magnus Paajarvi, Carl Gunnarsson

Dallas Stars:  Mattias Janmark, John Klinberg, Patrik Nemeth, Johnny Oduya

Montreal Canadiens:  Jacob De La Rosse, Tomas Pelkanec

Phoenix Coyotes: Anders Lindback, Klas Dahlbeck, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Nicklas Grossmann

Nicklas Lidstrom is an NHL legend and Coach Rikard Gronborg, I never thought I would meet an international coach. It was so great to meet these guys, they were so gracious with their time especially the fact that they were working.   I will defintely look through different eyes and cheer a little louder for Sweden from here on out.  Maybe even buy a Volvo!    What a great day already and it’s only 11am!

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