Your weekly dose of hockey-related banter and chitchat
Welcome to Where the Puck Drops, a weekly-or-more-often-run column in which I cover some of the hot topics around the world of hockey, plus some historical issues, random questions, and other tidbits linked to the sport of the puck, the sticks, and the goalie masks. This week we have a special edition of WTPD focused solely on Swedish hockey and its past, present, and future.
A Very Serious Exploration Of The Swedish Hockey Royal Status
From the cold Scandinavian region, the Konungariket Sverige arises. Land of blondes and the country of kings. The Swedes have a rich hockey tradition, as their first match being played more than 105 years ago. Known as the Tre Kronor, the Swedish hockey national team has seen much glory since they started playing this silly sport where success is based on bounces, rebounds, and deflections. But what is the current status of the nation? How is the core of the Swedish team shaping up? Who is past his prime? Who is at his peak? And who is trying to reach his peak to become the new leader of this freaking cold place? You’re lucky because I’ve done my homework and outlined everything related to hockey and this icy labyrinth.
Fallen Kings: Svenska kungar som stupat i fält
Despite the many efforts people perform to prevent aging, only so much can be done to the human body. At first, we are tiny creatures that grow and age rapidly. We then reach a point where we don’t grow anymore yet continue to age, becoming a piece of rotten stuff until our bodies are no longer useful.
That is what Henrik Lundqvist and Henrik Zetterberg are experiencing. Has it anything to do with their name? Maybe. Is Henrik the name of past-performance, of past-greatness, of past-success and value? Could be. Why not? Who named Henrik is thriving in the NHL right now? Henrik Sedin? There is no other Henrik in the league, and the twin is the closest thing to a decrypted body skating on cold ice I can get to imagine. I’ve struck gold. I’m sorry if you’re reading this and you happen to be a Swede named Henrik. Blame it on your parents. Blame it on your genealogical tree. But you’re done, my friend. Your days have passed you by.
Lord Lundqvist’s days in front of American nets are coming to an end. Based in New York, the epicenter of the Yankee stage, Lundqvist has finally accepted his fate. Twelve years have passed and it’s time to say goodbye. There is no need to keep looking for that puck, to keep tracking the rubber disk, to keep falling over a black plastic thing while getting whacked by a legion of opponents. Lower your head, look back in time, reflect, and wait for death.
Golden Hair Zetterberg, another long settler. Motown picked you, not before you battled and fought over a crowded field of warriors back in the last century. But you came out alive. More than that, you earned the throne after honing your abilities for just a couple years, became the king of the Red Sea and even lifted gold when you were still at the peak of your curve. But it all came crashing and you are no more the same. Nor are your Wings. Now all you can look at is an enormous pizza bowl. Lots of stories yet to be written, lots of tales you won’t be part of.
Raised Princes: Prinsar uppfostrade i Sverige
Open YouTube or Google. I don’t care. Look for “best Swedish hockey player” — no need to type more words. I bet a testicle that within the first five results you already have read the names Hedman and Karlsson. The new generation has arrived. The princes have overthrown the kings. No need to keep thinking, praising, and putting past glories on the top of our ranks. No need to keep considering persons closer to death than their pro-debuts to be the best at a sport where physicality is key. Present day Swedish honchos are not just better at what they do on the ice. They’re also prettier, stronger, faster, leaner, braver, and everything you can imagine. There is no way to stop them. Not even bones being removed from their ankles. No skates trying to cut their vision altogether.
Scar Hedman is Scar Hedman for a reason. He’s seen blood. He’s experienced suffering. He’s battled the gruesomest of battles and came out victorious every single time. He does not fear anything. A master of defensive arts. The last from those arriving during the first decade of the present century. The first Swede to reign in Florida’s hottest blueline, to fight Tampa’s fire over five hundred times and never show a weak spot. Embrace his power and his tenacity, appreciate his effort and his prowess.
No-Bone Karlsson is one of a kind. Tales have been written. Stories are told in the deepest of Sweden mountains, by the oldest of Swedish men, about how the legend himself was born and forged. Gothenburg was the place and Frolunda the royal family that originally manufactured No-Bone. There is no parallel. There is nothing similar. His bond with Scar is here to stay, and from the back of the rink, they surge to lead their troops time and time again. Often lacking all of the power he could master with his firm arm, Karlsson has faced full battalions he’s been close to overthrowing by himself alone. His last supernatural effort, losing half a part of his body while maintaining the same stance that made him King. Talk about a beast.
Bred Dukes: Hertigar uppfödda i Sverige
What is a world without the youth? A waste. What is a world without rookies? A mistake. What is a world without growing Swedish monsters about to turn the hockey upside down? Not this world, definitely. The page has turned for the Fallen Kings. The fame is on the faces of the Raised Princes. The future is hanging on the shoulders of the long Bred Dukes. Call it the course of the Swede. Call it the ascent of the young’uns. Call it how you want, but keep the next couple of names stored in the back of your head because you will need to reference them more than thrice during the next few years. Look, this is no joke. I am not here to fool you or to make you believe things that are not going to happen. I’m not building fallacies and forcing them through your throat. The kids are coming! Actually, the kids may even have already arrived and are here to stay.
Trigger Forsberg. Have you heard of him? Have you ever thought of his name? The youngest of the blasters down the middle of the lineup. The cannon that keeps on shooting no matter who’s in front of his body. As innocent as he may appear, Filip is the last thing opposing goalies want to face on the open battleground. He will look. He will aim. He will strike. Then… BOOM SHAKA LAKA! All you can do is pick the puck from the back of the net because that’s the only place where its soul would be able to rest. The premise of defeating the two-headed monster was so close, yet so far away that it still hurts. But wounds will heal. Guns will improve. Chances will come back and when they do, there may be no point of return.
Cutie Nylander is here to mess with your brain. There is no such a specimen on Earth quite like this one registered to date. Neither is there in heaven or hell combined. Rivals have fainted, powerful men have fallen, and opponents have surrendered. With a quick glance, you see his flowing, majestic hair with his precise skating and beautiful demeanor. And by the time you realize, you are done. He’s ousted you. Your chances are gone. You sit there, thinking and wandering and tinkering and not believing it. How is it possible? How at that age? How with that look? Questions unanswered. Fulfilled dreams.