August 04, 2016

Bengt Lundholm

When Bengt Lundholm arrived in the National Hockey League there were serious concerns about his size.

At six feet tall and a spindly 165 pounds, many predicted he would never survive a full season in the big, bad National Hockey League.

Lundholm did not just survive. He thrived. And he did so using his two trademarks: speed and determination.

Lundholm joined the Winnipeg Jets in 1981. They had long been interested in him, going back to their days in the World Hockey Association. They had drafted him in the WHA, but no team in the NHL had ever drafted him, though the New York Rangers had shown some interest.

When he finally did join the Jets as a free agent, Lundholm was not your average fresh-faced rookie newcomer. The college-educated left winger had spent the better part of the 1970s becoming a veteran of the Swedish Elite League with AIK Solna. He represented Sweden at four World Championships and the 1980 Olympics.

He also taught kindergarten.

Lundholm joined the Jets and excelled on the Tre Kroner line with countrymen Thomas Steen and Willy Lindstrom. They were known for their speed and their buzzing forechecking.

"As a line they complement each other," said coach Tom Watt. "Bengt is very skillful. He is a slippery, deceiving player who controls the puck well in open ice and in heavy traffic."

The trio helped the Jets qualify for the playoffs in 1982. But the line would run in to problems over time as other teams figured them out a bit.

In terms of Lundholm's game, teams figured out he had a real reluctance to shoot. He was capable of making dynamic dashes and create offense, but he almost always looked to pass. It was beautiful when it worked, though it frustrated Jets fans.

Lundholm returned to Sweden early in the 1985-86 season. After hanging up his skates he got into the financial services industry in Stockholm.

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