December 13, 2013

Willy Lindstrom: Swedish Speedster

Willy Lindstrom was born and grew up in the small Swedish town of Grums where he played hockey until the late 1960's. After that he went on to play five seasons for Vastra Frolunda in the Swedish elite league. His smooth and effortless skating in combination with his hustling playing style caught the eyes of WHA's Winnipeg Jets in the mid 1970's. Willy always played at full speed in Sweden and had injuries like a broken wrist, smashed cheekbone, broken nose and torn knee ligaments.

Willy was already a veteran of the Swedish national team when he joined Winnipeg for the 1975-76 season. It took him awhile before he was comfortable in his new surrounding. He struggled with his English at first and had to take lessons from a tutor before he could communicate with his Canadian and American teammates. But when he got the hang of it he became one of the teams greatest practical jokers.

It took him awhile to adapt to the more physical North American style as well. But after about 50 games under his belt he started to dish out checks on his own and played a more aggressive hockey. His style was that he skated with his legs far apart which made him tough to knock off the puck. He had a decent rookie season in the WHA scoring 59 points in 81 games.

His sophmore season was excellent as he scored 80 points, including 44 goals. During that 1976-77 season Willy played a total of 124 games,which included pre-season games, Canada Cup games as well as regular season and playoff games for Winnipeg. Writers and broadcasters voted him as the best player on the West team in the 1977 WHA All-Star game.

Here's the full Willy Lindstrom biography

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