August 03, 2023

Carl Soderberg

It is amazing that Carl Soderberg ever played one NHL game, let alone 597 NHL games as well as a World Cup, World Junior Championships and World Championships and lengthy career in Sweden.

I say that because in 2006 Soderberg, playing with Sweden's Malmo Redhawks, took an errant high stick that detached the retina in his left eye. He was declared legally blind in that eye, but was able to return to the ice and learn to play with limited vision.

Soderberg actually spent 3 months in hospital because of that injury, and he lost count on how many surgeries he had, though he estimates 8-10.

''The pressure in my eye was so high for months,’' he said. ''It wouldn’t go down, so I was in constant pain, getting constant headaches and worried if I would ever be able to see out of my eye again. I just wanted to feel good again.’'

How was he able to return to the ice?

''It was a little different on the eyes, I was scared, afraid to get hit again,’' he said. ''It took me a couple years to fully get back. "

"You have to be more aware, you have to listen to your teammates, look around you a little bit more,’' Soderberg said. "I try not to think too much and just play.”

Soderberg was already by the St. Louis Blues, taken 49th overall in 2004. He signed his three year entry level contract in 2006, but after failing to make the Blues roster in his first North American training camp, he was returned to Malmo after homesickness made him balk at playing in the American Hockey League farm circuit.

“People around me wanted me to sign and go over right away, but I was too young and I wasn’t ready,” he said. “I just didn’t have my mind there and that’s never a good thing. You have to listen to yourself.

It was a good move for Soderberg as he emerged as a force in the Swedish league before suffering the injury. Though he returned to the ice later that season and began adjusting his game, the Blues gave up on Soderberg in 2007, trading him to Boston.

It turned out to be a shrewd move for the Bruins, though they did have to wait quite a while. Soderberg didn't leave his native Malmo until 2012. But the mature center, who was almost an afterthought when he entered training camp, was able to make an immediate impact. He quickly became known for his strong two-way play and offensive contributions. He had good size and versatility, making him effective in both offensive and defensive situations. He was a physical presence, using his 6'3" 210lb frame to his advantage. He liked the battle areas like the corners and front of the net, and was never shy to throw a big hit.

Soderberg had two solid seasons as a depth player with the Bruins before he was acquired by the Colorado Avalanche. Soderberg is probably best known for his days in Denver. He had a 5 year run and averaged 46 points per season.

Soderberg rounded out his NHL career with a season in Arizona and a season in Chicago before returning to the Avalanche later in 2020-21 season. He extended his playing career with several more seasons back in Sweden.

Upon the announcement of his retirement Soderberg declared he would be studying business management.

No comments: