Disclaimer: Again, I don’t speak a word of Swedish, aside from Per Johan Axelsson. I’m transcribing and paraphrasing Google Translate here, so take the accuracy with a grain of salt. The only editing I’ve done to the quotes is to make them sound better grammatically in English (i.e. apostrophes, commas, etc.); otherwise they’re word-for-word.
Back to Google Translate!
After it was announced yesterday, first by the New England Hockey Journal’s Kirk Luedeke, then by everyone else, that the Bruins had agreed to a three-year contract with Carl Soderberg, the biggest looming question was “will the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation let him go?”
Media outlets here are reporting the Soderberg signing like it’s a done deal, and in a way, it is: Soderberg is going to end up in Boston. However, the big question is whether it’ll be next week or next season.
The potential objection by the SIHF has always been the biggest obstacle: signing the contract was pretty much a formality, as it was known that Soderberg wanted to come here, and the Bruins wanted Soderberg. However, the Swedish national team bigwigs, specifically GM Tommy Boustedt and coach Par Marts, want Soderberg to play for Sweden in the upcoming World Championships. It’s not hard to see why: Soderberg is regarded by many as the best Swede not in the NHL, as his 31 SEL goals this past season were the most scored by a player in five years.
Having basically set up camp on Expressen.se and Google Translate, I checked in again this morning to see what was up. The new article, written by Mattias Ek, starts by saying it’s clear that a contract and buyout has been agreed to by both the Bruins and Linkopings HC, though it cites NEHJ and ESPNBoston.com reports, which is strange, as one would figure that, being in Sweden, they’d do their own reporting.
However, the issue of Soderberg playing in the World Championships still looms large. Even some players currently in North America, most notably Calle Jarnkrok (whose name Google translates to the hilariously bad-ass Carl Iron Hook) and Jesper Fasth, apparently have pre-arranged agreements that they can leave their clubs April 15th and return to Sweden. Those two are in the AHL, so it’d be interesting to see if the call of country overrules potential Calder Cup playoff games.
As far as Soderberg’s participation goes, chairman Peter Forsberg (again, not Foppa) told Ek, “I have told the NHL when I was over there that Carl Soderberg is a key player for [Tre Kronor] in our home World Cup…he is not a marginal player.”
Ek goes on to say that the SIHF’s Board of Directors “will make a decision about Carl Söderberg’s NHL adventure later this week,” consistent with the Thursday meeting he told me about yesterday.
One of the issues appears to be the lack of a transfer agreement between the NHL and the SIHF, as one recently expired and a new one hasn’t gone into effect yet. From the article:
“We have no agreement today. We have the old agreement and [must] negotiate a new contract, so this comes in between. It also makes the situation a little funny because we do not know what governs either,” says Peter Forsberg. “You want both want common sense to prevail, but want each country to set up with their best player in a World Cup.”
Because I had already emailed Mattias before yesterday’s news of the alleged signing broke, I wanted to get his thoughts on all of the news, and whether or not he thought it was accurate. Here’s what he had to say on the matter:
I think that the media reports in the U.S. are probably accurate, but the federation over here claims that they have the right to prevent him from going. However, the pressure is on from the Bruins and the American media so we’ll see what the outcome of the meeting will be. My guess is that they will let Soderberg go if playing in the NHL right now is what he really wants. But the federation might as well persuade him to play for team Sweden in the Worlds if the coach Par Marts feels he’s in for a spot on the roster. It could go either way.
So there you have it, from someone who’s been covering the SEL for longer than anyone. Again, I’m not saying the reports are wrong, especially from Luedeke, who is a respected writer and very trusted source. I just wanted to get a perspective from the other side of the pond.
Either way, if what Ek says is accurate and playing in the NHL is what Soderberg really wants, it appears that the SIHF may let him go. However, as I said yesterday, I fear that the guilt trip may make Soderberg put off his North American excursion until after the World Championships; if that’s the case, we won’t see him until next season.
The good news? If the meeting tomorrow in Stockholm is indeed happening, we should be done with all of the speculation by tomorrow afternoon.