STOCKHOLM – The arrival of the Sedins heralds a new chapter in the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, particularly for Sweden which adds impressive leadership, experience, and firepower.
However, on a more trivial note, it also requires an important little change as current number 33 on the team, Elias Fälth, has to surrender his number to the more senior Henrik Sedin and will change to number 81.
Players are not allowed to change numbers mid-tournament without IIHF Directorate approval, so this brought to mind other weird and odd moments in Swedish hockey history. In no particular order:
1—Similarly, Peter Forsberg was a late addition to the Swedish team at the 2004 World Championship after the Colorado Avalanche were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Jörgen Jönsson was already wearing 21 and the Directorate agreed to allow him to change to number 72 so “Foppa” could wear his hallowed number.
2—The 1988 Sweden roster for the U20 tournament was particularly bizarre because there were three players named Stefan Nilsson on the team.
3—Who can forget the 1998 Olympics when longtime Swede Ulf Samuelsson was forced out of the Games after a reporter discovered that he no longer had a valid Swedish passport because he also owned a U.S. passport?
4—During the lockout of 2004/2005, the Sedins returned home and played for MODO Örnsköldsvik in the Swedish Elitserien. In one game, Henrik suffered a fracture to a finger after taking a slash, but rather than wait the necessary few weeks for the break to heal he elected to have the tip of his finger amputated.
5—No list of the weird and bizarre would be complete without THE goal. That is, Belarus’s winning goal of the quarter-finals in Salt Lake 2002 which bounced off goalie Tommy Salo’s mask and dribbled over the goal line.
6—They say records are made to be broken, but there is one record that is mathematically impossible to break. Tie? Perhaps. Break? Never. The scene was the bronze-medal game of the 2010 World Championship. Sweden was leading 3-1 when it iced the puck, and as the linesman blew the whistle there was only one second remaining in the game. But coach Bengt-Åke Gustafsson called a timeout and made a goaltending change, inserting Anders Lindback into the crease. The linesman dropped the puck; the game was over; and, Lindback was credited with one second of playing time. He has never played at the Worlds since, thus (for now) ensuring he has the shortest hockey career possible, any league, any country, anywhere!
7—Sometimes the stories aren’t all roses and chocolates. Remember in 2003 that Anson Carter scored the overtime winner to give Canada World Championship gold, but the shot was up for debate as the video review judge needed some ten, tense minutes to be certain the puck was in. It was the first 4-on-4 OT goal for gold that went to review.
8—How many times does a player playing for one nation get a standing ovation in the building of another nation? Perhaps never in international hockey history has anyone been so honoured as Borje Salming the night he stepped on Maple Leaf Gardens ice in his Tre Kronor colours at the start of the 1976 Canada Cup and received a thunderous standing O from his Leafs admirers.
9—Another question. How often does a player break his stick on the opening faceoff in a period? And how often does this bit of bad luck have important ramifications? The answer? Probably once. But when Saku Koivu skated to the bench to get a new twig at the start of the third period of the gold-medal game in Turin, it ended up costing his team gold when Mats Sundin dropped the puck to Nicklas Lindström, who ripped the winning goal for Sweden.
10—The NHL All-Star Game has been called many things, mostly having to do with the game’s friendly and happy-go-lucky atmosphere. Yet there was one time when it had terrible consequences. The 1984 All-Star Game saw Wayne Gretzky set a record by scoring four goals in the third period. The goalie was rising young star Pelle Lindbergh, who was so devastated by 99’s performance that he ended up being sent to the minors in Springfield and needing six months and more to recover psychologically from the blitz of goals.