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.

July 30, 2023

Markus Nutivaara

Born on June 6, 1994, in Oulu, Finland. Markus Nutivaara was known for a defensive defenseman for his 275 game NHL career. A hip injury put an end to his playing days prematurely.

Nutivaara worked his way up the junior ranks in his home country before breaking into Finland’s top league in 2014-15. He won a Liiga title with Karpat that year and was also noticed by National Hockey League scouts. He was drafted 189th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Nutivaara spent one more year with Karpat before heading to North America, where he would make it as a full-time NHLer as a rookie. He got into 66 games for Columbus and played over 13 minutes a night as a 22-year-old blueliner.

He would go on to play two more seasons as a regular for Columbus, peaking in 2018-19 when he averaged nearly 18 minutes of time on ice per night and scored 21 points. He was on the Blue Jackets team that achieved a historic upset series sweep over the at-the-time record-setting Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nutivaara joined the Florida Panthers for just 31 games, starting 2020. That is when the hip injury derailed his career. He played only one game in 2021-22, and no games in 2022-23 before having to hang up his skates.

In spite of the debilitating injury, Nutivaara always kept his career in perspective.

My goal for my career was to play one game in Oulu Kärpi. Anything on top of that would be a bonus. It went quite well," he chuckled with the Finnish media.

Markus Nutivaara retired with 17 goals, 54 assists and 71 points in 275 NHL games. He also played in the 2018 World Championships.

"The goal for my career was to play one game for Oulu Karpi. Anything on top of that would be a bonus. It went quite well," he chuckled to Finnish media.

Nutivaara tried his best to take the hip injury in stride.

"I was able to pull through one shift at full strength, but after that I had to suffer the rest of the game with pain. This went on for a long time. The hip has been operated twice. Attempts were made to repair the osteoarthritis and implant new cartilage. During the last season, the doctors said that they can't help anymore."

"Then the back started to fail and there were other problems when the hip did not recover. I skated on one leg for three years."

In my last year in Columbus, I took a lot of painkillers, but after that I decided that I would no longer operate with them. I made a decision that if the pain is too bad, I will stay away from the games and start rehabbing. You should be careful with these."

His last season may have been the toughest. Not only did he not play, but he had just signed with San Jose. He never felt like part of the team. 

"When you're injured, you're out of the team and trying to stay out of the way. With two years out of the way, going to the hall becomes difficult. In San Jose, it was already really difficult, after all, a new team and stuff.

"I still have to give a big thank you to the entire San Jose organization, how they welcomed me there and also took these mental things into account. I couldn't give much, but I got a lot myself."

July 27, 2023

Patrice Bergeron

Classy Patrice Bergeron,, the best two way player of his era and arguably of the entire modern era, has hung up his skates.

"For the last 20 years I have been able to live my dream every day. I have had the honor of playing in front of the best fans in the world wearing the Bruins uniform and representing my country at the highest levels of international play," Bergeron wrote in a prepared statement.

"I have given the game everything that I have physically and emotionally, and the game has given me back more than I could have ever imagined. It is with a full heart and a lot of gratitude that today I am announcing my retirement as a professional hockey player."

Bergeron, who spent the past three seasons as captain of the Bruins, won his second-consecutive and sixth overall Selke Trophy this past season.

A draft pick of the Bruins in 2003 with the 45th overall pick, Bergeron, a native of L’Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, has 427 goals and 1,040 points in 1,294 career regular-season games. He's third in franchise history in games played behind Johnny Bucyk (1,436) and Ray Bourque (1,518). He also sits behind the same duo for third in points in Bruins' history.

A Stanley Cup champion with the Bruins in 2011, Bergeron is a two-time Olympic gold medallist, winning with Team Canada at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014. He won gold at the 2005 world juniors and also won gold at the 2004 world hockey championship.

"Over the last 20 years I have had the honor of taking the ice with so many great teammates," Bergeron wrote in his statement. "I have tried to learn something from each and every one of you and I always tried to be the best teammate that I could be. I will never forget your trust, the laughs, the endless memories, the ups and downs, and ultimately the long lasting friendships. I will forever be grateful being a part of such an exceptional group of men, and I will carry the pride of winning in 2011 with me forever."

"There is only one other jersey that I ever wanted to wear, and that is the Canadian jersey," he continued. "Representing my country at the highest level - especially winning Gold in Vancouver and Sochi are also some of my proudest moments. I would like to thank everyone who helped make those experiences possible."

Bergeron was also presented with the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2012-13 and earned the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2020-21.

“How many players in the league could be the game star and get no points,” said Hall of Fame coach Ken Hitchcock, who had Bergeron at two best-on-best Olympic Games. “He had games like that where he completely controlled the game. He completely controlled your team."

“I’ve always thought that the Selke Award was for the most complete player in the league and that’s why Bergie won it so often,” Hitchcock continued. “He could score big goals, get big points, shut down your best player and be dependable every day under all circumstances. As a coach, you never had to talk to him. We’re talking about a once-in-a-lifetime player here.”

“My first thought about Patrice Bergeron: He’s a winner," said Ken Holland, who was also part of the those Canadian victories "You look at those numbers. Wins, goals against, penalty kill, faceoffs. He touches every one of those areas. He’s on power play. He’s on penalty kill. He’s on late in a game when you’re down a goal. He’s on late in the game when you’re up by a goal and protecting a lead. He plays in every situation and he played his entire career against the best players on the other teams.”

July 22, 2023

Henrik Lundqvist

Henrik Lundqvist, hockey's best dressed man and the dominant goalie of his era, has earned his place among the all time greats in hockey history. It was made official with his inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2023.

Born on March 2, 1982, in Åre, Sweden, Henrik Lundqvist was raised in a family deeply devoted to sports. Henrik's sister Gabriella was a promising tennis player. Henrik and his twin brother Joel, who made also made it to the NHL (as a forward), inherited their father's love for hockey and quickly developed a passion for the game.

Lundqvist rose through the ranks to become arguably the most promising goaltender to ever come out of Sweden. He spent five seasons with Vastra Frolunda HC, rewriting the Swedish record book. During his final season there, 2005, he broke four Swedish national records: lowest goals against average (1.05), highest save percentage (.962), longest goalless streak (at 172 minutes and 29 seconds) and most shutouts in a season (6). He was also named Best Goaltender, Best Player and was selected as the league's MVP by fellow players.

In his Swedish career 180 appearances with Frölunda, he amassed a 1.96 goals against average (GAA) and a .927 save percentage, leading them to four consecutive playoff appearances and winning two titles in 2003 and 2005.

Such exceptional performances earned him a spot on the Swedish National Team, and he represented his country in several international competitions, showcasing his talents to a global audience. Most notably Lundqvist backstopped Sweden to the 2006 Olympic gold medal. All in all he played in three Olympic games, also winning silver in 2014. He played in five World Championships, winning gold in 2017. He also played in three World Junior Championships, the 2004 and 2016 World Cup of Hockey, and, interestingly, the 2002 inline hockey World Championships, where he won gold.

Wow, that's quite the career, and that's just the international side. He also became the dominant NHL goalie of his era and the "King" of New York.

The New York Rangers drafted him in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, unaware of the impact this Swedish goaltender would make in the years to come. Lundqvist's arrival in the Big Apple injected new life into the Rangers' goaltending, and he quickly became the backbone of the team.

He holds numerous NHL records, including the most 30-win seasons by a goaltender, and is the first goalie in league history to win 30 or more games in each of his first seven seasons. He holds the record for most wins by a European-born goaltender in the NHL history. He also owns every New York Rangers goaltending record there is to own.

Renowned for his ability to steal victories and his unwavering determination, "King Henrik" earned the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender in 2012, further cementing his status as a premier netminder. The Vezina was an elusive trophy for Henrik. He actually was nominated in each of his first three seasons in the league but didn't actually win it until 2012.

Lundqvist's unparalleled contributions to the New York Rangers earned him a place in the hearts of fans, and he became one of the most beloved players in the franchise's history. He captivated fans with his humility and professionalism both on and off the ice. 

In 2020, after 15 extraordinary seasons with the New York Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist signed with the Washington Capitals, a move that offered him a chance to continue his pursuit of the elusive Stanley Cup. However, before the season could begin, he underwent open-heart surgery, sidelining him for the 2020-2021 campaign. Despite this setback, Lundqvist displayed incredible resilience and determination throughout his recovery.

In August 2021, Henrik Lundqvist announced his retirement from professional hockey without ever playing a game for the Capitals. Thus concluded a remarkable career that spanned over two decades.

As a true sports icon and role model, Henrik Lundqvist will forever be remembered as the Swedish Wall, a masterful goaltender, and a person of exemplary character.

July 20, 2023

Nate Thompson Retires

Longtime NHL journeyman Nate Thompson is the most recent player to announce his retirement in the summer of 2023.

The 38-year-old forward made the announcement via Twitter.

"From the time I was four until 38 hockey has been my life and best friend. I’m beyond grateful and thankful for all the great people I’ve met and friendships I’ve made," Thompson said. "All good things must come to an end so thank you to all who supported me along this journey."

Thompson's NHL journey is a testament to the power of determination, resilience, and hard work. From a young Alaskan boy with a dream to a seasoned veteran celebrated for his tenacity, Thompson's impact on the NHL extends far beyond his on-ice performances. As a gritty forward and dedicated leader, he has left an indelible mark on the teams he's played for and continues to inspire the next generation of hockey players both in Alaska and around the hockey world.

Growing up in Alaska, a state not traditionally known for producing NHL talent, Nate Thompson's love for hockey began at a young age. His passion for the sport was undeniable, and he quickly became a standout player in local youth leagues. Despite facing geographical disadvantages, Thompson's determination caught the attention of scouts, and he earned an opportunity to play major junior hockey in the Western Hockey League (WHL).

In 2003, Nate Thompson was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the sixth round of the NHL Entry Draft. His road to the NHL, however, was far from straightforward. After spending time developing in the AHL with the Providence Bruins, Thompson made his NHL debut in the 2006-2007 season. Although his initial NHL stint was short-lived, he continued to hone his skills in the AHL before earning a more permanent spot with the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2010-2011 season.

It was with the Tampa Bay Lightning that Nate Thompson showcased his versatility and leadership, quickly becoming a valued presence on the team. Renowned for his fearless play, faceoff prowess, and penalty-killing abilities, Thompson's contributions were instrumental in the Lightning's deep playoff runs during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. His gritty playing style and work ethic earned him the respect of teammates and fans alike.

Despite his successes in Tampa Bay, Thompson's journey in the NHL would take him to various teams as he embraced the role of a journeyman. Over the years, he played for the Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings, and Montreal Canadiens. Each stop allowed him to bring his unique blend of skill and leadership to the locker room.

One of Thompson's most memorable moments came during the 2019-2020 season with the Philadelphia Flyers. Serving as an integral part of the team's playoff push, he displayed his ability to perform under pressure, solidifying his reputation as a clutch player. Throughout his career, Thompson has been a steady presence, providing stability and experience to the teams he's played for.

In his 844 NHL game career, Nate Thompson scored 65 goals and 99 assists for 164 points. He added eight goals and 13 assists over 86 career games in the playoffs. He also played in the 2012 and 2013 World Championships, winning a bronze medal in the latter tournament.