October 09, 2007

Le Petit Viking and his neighbor Kjell

He wasn't a true superstar hockey player but an above average player who took over Guy Lafleur's role as Montreal's dynamic offensive leader and fan favorite. One of my unforgettable memories of the 1980s was the Montreal Forum applause he would get every time announcer Claude Mouton announced a goal by "number 26, numéro vingt six . . . Matsss....Nasluuuund."

Its hard to believe nowadays, but at the time Mats Naslund was the first European trained player to ever play for the Montreal Canadiens. A couple of years later they added another Swede, Kjell Dahlin, who just so happened to grow up on the same street as Naslund back in the town of Timra.

For one season only Dahlin was a Swede Sensation, rewriting the Montreal rookie record book while teaming with Naslund in helping Montreal capture the 1986 Stanley Cup.

Montreal's been a real European friendly place in recent seasons, but interestingly there are few Swedes in their lineup in that time. In fact this year there are 9 Europeans (and 4 Americans) on their 23 man roster, but no Swedes and just 4 Quebecers.

Maybe Montreal's fortunes would rise if they could find themselves another "Le Petit Viking."

Read full Mats Naslund biography - Read full Kjell Dahlin biography

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