blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: Ice Hockey In Sweden

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ice Hockey In Sweden

Slighty larger than California, latitudinally aligned with Alaska, and with a population numerically akin to North Carolina, this Scandinavian stronghold bordered by Norway, Finland, and the Baltic Sea is best known for producing reliable cars, self assembly furniture, marvelous meatballs, and beautiful women.

The quaint country of 9.2 million, however, is also a hotbed of ice hockey winning Winter Olympic gold in two of the past four tournaments (1994, 2006) and supplying the NHL with over 5% of its skaters.

Last month we visited the northern outposts of Örnsköldsvik and Umeå for a preseason festival featuring four teams (Modo Hockey, Skellefteå, Luleå, Björklöven) from the nation's top two leagues (Elitserien, HockeyAllsvenskan) to learn more about the country's puck rich culture.

In the coming weeks we'll describe the local league system and live game experience and take you behind the scenes at Modo Hockey to explore their close knit relationship with the Vancouver Canucks, meeting players who have skated with both clubs (Markus Näslund, Josh Green, Tomáš Mojžíš) and introducing you to some of their top tier homegrown talent (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Peter Forsberg, Victor Hedman).

Next stop, Sweden.