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Swedes in the NHL during the last 50 years

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Old
07-09-2011, 09:50 AM
  #1
steve141
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Swedes in the NHL during the last 50 years

As a companion piece to plusandminus' project I'll take a look at the Swedish players possibly capable of cracking an NHL roster.

For each of plusandminus’ era I'll look at the players who actually suited up in the NHL and the ones who, under different circumstances, might have been able to crack an NHL line up. This doesn’t mean that they’d be stars in the NHL, just that they, maybe, could have held a regular spot in the league. I'll call the second list 'coulda, woulda, shoulda'.

To me the most striking thing about these lists is the difference between the situation around 1970 and 1980. I don't believe that a country could have gone from no NHL capable players to twenty in ten years. Development just doesn't happen like that. To me, the most likely explanation is that the Swedes from around 1965 to 1975 were underrated and the players from around 1975 to 1985 were overrated.

Feel free to add or subtract from the lists.


Last edited by steve141: 07-09-2011 at 10:15 AM.
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Old
07-09-2011, 09:52 AM
  #2
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1960-1967

1960-1967:

Players in NHL:
Ulf Sterner

Coulda, woulda, shoulda:
Lars Bjorn
Sven Tumba
Roland Stoltz
Lars-Eric Lundvall
Nils Nilsson
Ronald Pettersson
Anders Andersson

Comments:
* Sweden really had its international breakout as a hockey nation when winning the World Championship in 1957 and 1962. The top Swedish players during the early 60s where the major inspiration for the Swedes that actually took the step over during the 70s.

* The games were different in Europe and America. Switching continents was not just a matter of quality. For example, hitting was not allowed in all three zones in international games until 1969. Just because a player was a good player in Europe doesn't mean he would be a good fit for the more physical american game. And some American players who relied on their physical game might have problems in Europe. Please remember that different doesn't necessarily mean high or lower quality though.

* One reason that more Swedish players didn't give the NHL a shot was the importance of amateur status. Swedish players have always valued the Olympics highly. This meant that taking a job in the NHL was not merely a matter of leaving your Swedish club, but perhaps leaving the national team. This was a definite concern for some players (i.e. Sterner not wanting to come over until after the 1964 Olympics).

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07-09-2011, 09:53 AM
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1968-1972

Players in NHL:
Juha Widing (Finnish/Swedish/Canadian)

Coulda, woulda, shoulda:
Lennart Svedberg

Comments:
This is a peculiar period where Sweden did not have any big successes internationally, nor any North American exports. Apart from Svedberg there are not many clear NHL candidates either. Still, it’s strange to think that just five years later the North American leagues would start to fill up with Swedes. I don’t buy the notion that Sweden went from having no NHL capable players to over ten in just five years. I don’t have any other explanation for the apparent explosion than the Salming effect. Salming showed both the other players and the NHL teams that it could be done. Svedberg is probably the closest Sweden has ever been to producing a Paul Coffey.


Last edited by steve141: 07-09-2011 at 01:29 PM. Reason: Added Juha Widing
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Old
07-09-2011, 09:56 AM
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1970-1978

Players in NHL:
Borje Salming
Inge Hammarstrom
Thommie Bergman
Roland Eriksson
Per-Olov Brasar
Stefan Persson
Kent-Erik Andersson
Anders Hedberg
Dan Labraaten
Tord Lundstrom
Rolf Edberg
Thomas Gradin
Leif Svensson
Lars Lindgren
Ulf Nilsson
Bjorn Johansson
Lars Zetterstrom
Anders Kallur

Coulda, woulda, shoulda
Leif Holmqvist
Mats Waltin

Comments:
This was the time when the first Swedsih players established themselves in NA. Borje Salming was the first Swede to be considered a top 10 player in his position in the NHL. Several other players established themselves as mini-stars – Hedberg, Nilsson. Holmqvist is considered a top 5 Swedsih goalie ever, too bad we never got to see him in the NHL.

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07-09-2011, 09:57 AM
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1980-1988

Players in NHL:
61 Swedish players in total
38 played 82 games or more

Coulda, woulda, shoulda:
Mikael Andersson (the one born in 1959, not 1962)
Jonas Bergqvist
Peter Lindmark
Jens Ohling

Comments:
The time between 1979 and 1984 could be considered the Swedish invasion years – 38 Swedes jumped into the NHL during these five years. Not all of them were very good players, the scouting in these days was very poor. Still, some other very good players stayed in Sweden during the eighties – Andersson, Bergqvist, Lindmark and Ohling certainly were better players than unknown NHL players like Hakansson, Lundholm, and Lindgren.

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07-09-2011, 09:58 AM
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1988-1994

Players in NHL:
44 Swedish players in total
27 played 82 games or more

Coulda, woulda, shoulda:
Tomas Rundqvist
Hakan Sodergren
Charles Berglund
Kennth Kennholt
Anders Eldebrink
Rolf Ridderwall

Comments:
The golden age of the Swedish national team was between 1987 and 1994. This generation of players have several that could be considered world-class players but for different reasons had a hard time establishing themselves in the NHL . Anders Eldebrink is a prime example. He came over too early in his career and couldn’t adapt to the North American game. A few years later he blossomed into one of the best Swedish defencemen ever. Rundqvist and Ridderwall are others that at their peak could have been significant contributors in the NHL.

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07-09-2011, 09:59 AM
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1995-

Players in NHL:
132 players in total
89 players played 82 games or more

Coulda, woulda, shoulda:
Jorgen Jonsson

Comments:
From ca 1995 the scouting and the development programs in the NHL had matured enough to both find the best Swedish players, and develop them properly. Most of the best Swedish players from this period have had long NHL careers. The only notable exception is Jorgen Jonsson, who could have been a very good second line center in the NHL for ten years.

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Old
07-09-2011, 10:28 AM
  #8
Theokritos
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1968-1972

Quote:
Originally Posted by steve141 View Post
Players in NHL:
None
Wrong. Juha Widing played in the NHL from 1969 on.

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Old
07-09-2011, 11:01 AM
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therealkoho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post
Wrong. Juha Widing played in the NHL from 1969 on.
Sweden and Finland surprisingly enough are different countries, one is where Swedes come from and one is where Finns come from(not to be confused with fins which come from Swimland)

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07-09-2011, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by therealkoho View Post
Sweden and Finland surprisingly enough are different countries, one is where Swedes come from and one is where Finns come from
so tomas sandström is also finnish?

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07-09-2011, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve141 View Post
As a companion piece to plusandminus' project I'll take a look at the Swedish players possibly capable of cracking an NHL roster.
Thank you, this was a nice surprise to see.

Regarding Juha Widing, he was born in Finland by Swedish parents. He played for Sweden during the 1976 Canada Cup (5 games, 1 goal, 1 assist). He moved abroad with his family around his 17th birthday in the summer of 64. 575 NHL games from 1969-78. Died in 1984, at age, 37 due to a heart attack.

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07-09-2011, 11:49 AM
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therealkoho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the edler View Post
so tomas sandström is also finnish?

really! I was born in Canada from Italian parents, while I could claim Italian nationality I am Canadian. As my parents were Italian it does however make me eligible to play on the Italian national team, although I'm much to old now to do so it still doesn't make me Italian just Italian heritage. Same principle would apply to Whyding would it not?

Juha was known in his Kings days as the flying Finn

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07-09-2011, 11:58 AM
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steve141
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post
Wrong. Juha Widing played in the NHL from 1969 on.
I considered him, but elected not to include him since I don't know how to classify him. Born in Finland, partly trained in Sweden, partly in the Canadian junior hockey system. I guess you could consider him a Swedish NHL player, but that wouldn't tell the complete picture.

I also didn't include the first Swedish-born NHL player, Gustav Forslund, since he wasn't trained in Sweden.

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07-09-2011, 12:07 PM
  #14
Theokritos
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Because 'Flying Swede' wouldn't have the alliteration.

Widing was born in Finland, but to Swedish parents + he moved to Sweden very early and grew up there + he learned to play hockey in Sweden + he played for Team Sweden, not for Team Finland... enough said. He's as Finnish as Daniel Heatley is German - 0% apart from the birthplace. If Daniel Heatley is a Canadian hockey player, then Juha Widing is a Swedish hockey player.

BTW, early Canadian newspaper reports correctly refer to him as a Swede:

"Juha Widing of Sweden":
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...ing+swed&hl=en

"Juha Widing, the young Swedish recruit":
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...ing+swed&hl=en

"Juha Widing, the Swedish import":
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...ing+swed&hl=en

"Juha Widing from Sweden":
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...ing+swed&hl=en
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...a+widing&hl=en

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Old
07-09-2011, 12:08 PM
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SharksAttack
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Juha Widing and Tomas Sandström are Swedes born in Finland

If you are not sure if player is Swede or Finn, check here

Swedes in NHL
Finns in NHL

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Old
07-09-2011, 12:14 PM
  #16
Theokritos
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve141 View Post
I considered him, but elected not to include him since I don't know how to classify him. Born in Finland, partly trained in Sweden, partly in the Canadian junior hockey system. I guess you could consider him a Swedish NHL player, but that wouldn't tell the complete picture.

I also didn't include the first Swedish-born NHL player, Gustav Forslund, since he wasn't trained in Sweden.
Widing was trained in Sweden. Yes, he played in the Canadian junior hockey system too. So what? Is Evgeny Grachev not a Russian hockey player because played in the Ontario Hockey League?

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07-09-2011, 01:57 PM
  #17
therealkoho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theokritos View Post
Because 'Flying Swede' wouldn't have the alliteration.

Widing was born in Finland, but to Swedish parents + he moved to Sweden very early and grew up there + he learned to play hockey in Sweden + he played for Team Sweden, not for Team Finland... enough said. He's as Finnish as Daniel Heatley is German - 0% apart from the birthplace. If Daniel Heatley is a Canadian hockey player, then Juha Widing is a Swedish hockey player.

BTW, early Canadian newspaper reports correctly refer to him as a Swede:

"Juha Widing of Sweden":
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...ing+swed&hl=en

"Juha Widing, the young Swedish recruit":
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...ing+swed&hl=en

"Juha Widing, the Swedish import":
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...ing+swed&hl=en

"Juha Widing from Sweden":
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...ing+swed&hl=en
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...a+widing&hl=en


I remember when they used to erroneously refer to me as the Italian stallion, while it was flattering it was still misguided as I was born in the GWN, now much to my chagrin they just call me Canadian bacon

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Old
07-09-2011, 08:58 PM
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I refereed games for the 1964-65 combined Canadian National Team and Winnipeg Maroons. They played games against Central Professional Hockey League teams. One of the games I had was against the St. Paul Rangers. Ulf Sterner, the first Swede to play in the NHL, was on the St. Paul team. That season he went up to play 4 games with the NY Rangers and finished the season in the American Hockey League with Baltimore.

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