Sweden and the Detroit Red Wings have gone together like peanut butter and jam for decades now. In fact, when Sweden won its most recent Olympic gold medal in 2006, the team went five-deep in Red Wings players.
Nicklas Lidstrom scored the goal that won Sweden the gold medal. Tomas Holmstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg and Mikael Samuelsson were other Wings on the team. Red Wings draftee Stefan Liv was Sweden’s third goaltender.
Even though NHL participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics isn’t confirmed, teams are already making preparations as if the NHLers will be going. According to Hockey Wanderlust, Sweden recently gathered 27 of its top NHLers together for a information session on Olympic preparation.
It was a sign of the times that no Red Wings players were part of the group. The closest to a Detroit presence were former Wings draftees Mattias Janmark and Calle Jarnkrok.
However, don’t go thinking that Sweden can go into an Olympic hockey tournament without Red Wings representation.
Former Wings forward Johan Garpenlöv is still the head coach of the Swedish national side. He survived through a disappointing 2021 world championship in which the Swedes failed to reach the medal round.
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“We’re planning according to the NHLers being there, but we also have a plan for the possibility that they say no to Olympics, Garpenlöv told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter. “That information should be available by the end of the month, so there’s lots of time to prepare for the tournament in any case,”
Garpenlöv is reaching into the Detroit Swedish pipeline for support as they prepare for Beijing. He’s added ex-Wings captain Zetterberg and former Wings defenseman Kronwall to the squad as advisors to the coaching staff.
Kronwall has served as an advisor to Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman since retiring in 2019 after 15 NHL seasons. Kronwall was known for his relentless work ethic as a player. He’s quickly gaining a similar reputation as an assessor of hockey talent.
“Kronner has so many great relationships over there,”Wings director of amateur scouting Kris Draper said of Kronwall’s Swedish connections. Detroit selected Swedish defenseman Simon Edvinsson in the first round and center Liam Dower Nilsson in the fifth round of the 2021 NHL entry draft. Kronwall gave plenty of input on both selections.
“I certainly reached out to him for background checks, get some information and everything that we’re hearing is matching up and that’s exactly what Kronner did,”Draper said. “It’s unreal to have Niklas Kronwall over there in Sweden along with Thomas Carlsson and Hakan Andersson to gather information, gather intel for us.”