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May 28, 2016

Mattias Ohlund

Mattias Ohlund's last played in 2011, but he finally will be able to retire in 2016.

Ohlund, once a robust, physical defenseman who quietly dominated in the NHL and top international stages, was on the injured reserve for five years. His left knee was so badly damaged that no amount of surgery would ever give him doctor clearance to return to the ice. With his long term contract running through to the summer of 2016, Ohlund and the Tampa Bay Lightning found themselves in limbo.

While he ended his career in Tampa Bay medical clinics after two goalless seasons with the Lightning, Mattias Ohlund will forever be best remembered as a Vancouver Canuck.

Ohlund was an excellent first round pick by the Canucks in 1994. He spent 11 of his 13 NHL seasons and played 770 of his 909 NHL games in a Canucks uniform. By the time he left he was the highest-scoring blueliner in Canucks history with 93 goals and 325 points.

Ohlund was not an elite offensive producer. He was an excellent top-pairing blueliner who really excelled as a steady and sturdy shutodown defender. His battles with Calgary's Jarome Iginla and Colorado's Milan Hejduk were always great games-within-the-games. He was assertive and powerful and impossible to intimidate. He handled a lot of minutes in every aspect of the game.

While Ohlund was an imposing man with great reach and an excellent ability to read the oncoming play, it was his skating that really made him effective. He was a fluid if not fast skater with wonderful agility for such a big man. The NHL's top attackers had all sorts of trouble getting by Ohlund, whether they tried by using speed or bullish power.

Ohlund overcame a scary eye injury early in his career and became a remarkably important player in Canucks history. Beyond his measurable contributions on the ice, Ohlund was long lauded for his leadership role in welcoming and transitioning fellow Swedes Alex Edler and Daniel and Henrik Sedin to Vancouver.

Though his career quickly whimpered to an end in Tampa, his influence on a young Victor Hedman should not be overlooked.

Ohlund was also a regular with Team Sweden on the international stage. He was part of Sweden's Olympic gold medal winning team in 2006, one of three Olympics he participated in.

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