After I left work on Saturday afternoon, I got a text from my brother. It was a picture of a Tweet from a Canadian reporter confirming that the NHL was disregarding the SIHF’s ruling and bringing Carl Soderberg to Boston anyways. Of course this all happens AFTER I step away from a computer.
So it appears that the SoderSaga is over: Soderberg will be here on Wednesday, that much has been confirmed. But what’s going on over in Sweden? Surely the SIHF isn’t going to take this lying down, and is probably pretty pissed off.
I headed back to Expressen.se one last time to see what’s been going on over there since the decision was announced on Saturday, armed with my trusty Swedish language skills (also known as Google Translate).
It appears that Mike Helber, the GM of Linkopings HC, played the role of “Good Guy GM” in this entire process. While his team stood to lose the most if Soderberg left Sweden, he didn’t put a single obstacle in his path.
Expressen ran an article under the headline “LHC never hesitated to break Carl’s agreement,” and in it Helber (an American from Michigan, first pointed out to me by Erik on Twitter, who actually played for LHC for a decade) offers details:
“What we really helped with is that Carl has asked us to break his contract on the 6th or 7th of April. We did that. Carl had a contract that ran until the end of April just like all contracts in Swedish hockey. He came to us and said, ‘I want you to break the contract with me. You don’t have to pay me anymore, because I want to play for the Boston Bruins.”
On Saturday, SIHF VP Peter Forsberg explained why Soderberg was leaving:
“We have been informed by NHL management that after reviewing the situation and having conversations with the NHLPA, they believe that Söderberg is not under contract and therefore cannot be stopped from NHL games.”
Forsberg went on to say that the NHL and its lawyers reviewed all of the details of the Soderberg case, and found that the SIHF had no grounds to block him from playing in the NHL. It was Bill Daly who informed the SIHF that the league was going to welcome Soderberg with open arms, a fact that disappointed Forsberg, who said:
“We have a unanimous board decision that we want to Carl Soderberg to honor his contract with the union now that coach Pär Mårts wants him on the World Cup team.”
It’s safe to say that Forsberg isn’t very happy about the proceedings, but he basically says that it’s clear that the this situation shows that the next transfer agreement between the two sides must clearly address instances like Soderberg’s.
Forsberg also wouldn’t comment on whether or not Soderberg would face Tre Kronor punishment (like being banned from playing on the national team) for defecting to the NHL.
On Monday, a bit more drama developed. It appears that the SIHF is considering taking action against Soderberg’s agent, JP Barry, and his agency, CAA Sports, which has an office in Sweden. The article is unclear (I guess the word “sued” is hard for Google Translate), but Samuel Linde on Twitter (he’s Swedish) says that legal action is indeed being threatened.
It appears that the SIHF is threatening to bar Barry from doing business in the country, as it can’t revoke the entire company’s license; each case must be reviewed individually.
Adding to the intrigue is the fact that apparently the Bruins tried to get Soderberg to come over in January (first pointed out by Samuel in the Tweet above). I went to Aftonbladet, another Swedish news site, and found an article confirming that the B’s did, in fact, attempt to get Soderberg to come over months back.
Apparently the B’s told LHC that they wanted Soderberg to come over, a request that Helber responded to with “outrage,” leading the Bruins to apologize. Soderberg apparently wanted to leave back in January as well, but Helber understandably blocked the move.
“Of course we reacted and wondered what they were doing over there?,” Helber told Aftonbladet. “How can anyone believe that we will be releasing SEL’s best player without getting anyone back?”
Helber goes on to say that the Bruins called to apologize, and that LHC made it clear back in January that they’d (at the very least) consider letting Soderberg walk when the season ended.
“We clearly showed our outrage and it ended with the Boston calling and apologizing. Even then, we made it clear that we could think of to break the contract with Carl when our season was over. So we did. It’s really the only thing that we helped with,” said Helber, who argued that there was never any doubt from the club’s side to break the contract early.
Interesting. Lawsuits, apology phone calls…very weird, which is fitting for this entire saga.
Thanks to Samuel, whose original Tweet inspired me to go back to Expressen/Aftonbladet. All quotes were paraphrased by me to sound better in English; I did my best to keep them accurate.