Red Wings prospect and goaltender Filip Larsson engaged in a lengthy interview with Hockeysverige.se’s Uffe Bodin today, discussing last season’s significant groin injury and his college hockey plans.
What follows is roughly translated:
The goaltender’s long way back after the nightmare injury: “The groin moved eleven millimeters”
His dream season ended just too early. In an unfortunate moment, goaltending talent Filip Larsson broke his groin. After a frustrating half-year of rehab, the 20-year-old travels to the United States tomorrow to begin the next chapter of his career at the University of Denver. “You don’t feel the same as before, but it’s it’s fixed,” he told Hockeysverige.se about his injury.
Solna. Hockeysverige.se. Tomorrow the eventure starts. World Junior Championship goaltender Filip Larsson flies to the United States to commence his college career at the renowned University of Denver. Passing across the Atlantic, the former Djurgarden goaltender is not only concerned about starting in a new school and testing a brand new league in the NCAA, but he also carries nervousness about where he stands physically.
Prior to last season, the 20-year-old Stockholm native moved to the Tri-City storm in Kearney, Nebraska, playing in the USHL. There he had tremendous success. Larsson was the league’s best goaltender statistically, with a save percentage of 94.1, and he raced to individual awards.
But just when it went best, the worst moment came. In a game at the end of February, his season ended.
“It was a neutral moment. I went down to stop the puck and I just felt a pang of pain. My leg just lay there and I couldn’t move it,” says Filip Larsson to Hockeysverige.se after a training season on ice in Ritrop in Solna.
What is said is that, in terms of body parts that, beside the goalpost, the groin can be described as the goaltender’s best friend. Without working groins, a goaltender cannot play hockey.
“It moved eleven millimeters,” Filip Larsson sighs.
“It moved to a new place and healed together, and then it scarred over and cracked a bit. There were some unpleasant things in the recovery. At the beginning, it was tough to walk, so it felt like it jumped back and forth. It’s disappearing more and more, but you’re still a bit jittery.”
“It won’t give a clearer reading”
Spring and summer have been used for rehabilitation. Larsson was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings and participated in the team’s development camp this summer, but there were only a few careful steps to see what progress he’d made. It’s only now that he’s starting to feel safe again.
“I’ve just started skating on the ice seriously and it feels quite alright, but sometimes you know that there are some things that you can’t handle. The groin is still weak, and the scar tissue makes it hurt in some moments. You feel that you’re not the same as before, but it should be fixed.”
Fortunately, the college season doesn’t begin until mid-October. It gives Filip Larsson one-and-a-half months to rehab and strengthen the groin to playing strength. He’s convinced that he’ll be fit for battle by then.
Although he’s a first-year player, a so-called Freshman in the NCAA, he’s expected to be the starting goaltender at the University of Denver. Prior to last season, Larsson was set to play college hockey, but he hadn’t decided where. The “Pioneers,” as the school’s sports team is called, showed early interest in the Swede and flattered him so much that he never thought about choosing another school.
“They were already there before the season, and I had very good contact with assistant coach David Carle, who’s become the head coach now. I felt it was a good coaching staff with a sensible goaltending coach. They had a close look at me, and had seen many games and were genuinely interested. I went to Denver and it became my only visit to any school. It felt right so I decided at once.”
Coach gets an NHL job
The University of Denver became an NCAA champion as late as 2017. Former coach Jim Montgomery did such a great job that he was hired as the new head coach for the Dallas Stars in the NHL prior to this season. And among the talents who have attended the school in recent years, not the least were the American hero of the World Championship in 2017, Troy Terry (Anaheim Ducks), and the Finnish center Henrik Borgstrom (Florida Panthers) are notable.
“As a goaltender, it’s important to get into a good situation, to have a chance to play in many games. That was above all what I was looking for at Denver, and the chance that I believe I can get there,” says Filip Larsson about his choice, and he explains how he sees the season taking place:
“My first goal is to be injury-free. Then I think I will get a lot to do because the team is in a small generational shift and probably will not be as good as the past few years. I will do everything to help the team win games.”
There can be a maximum of four seasons in college for Larsson. However, if he’s offered an NHL contract by the Red Wings, he could leave school early. But if he signs a professional contract, he loses his amateur status and can’t play any more college hockey.
Do you have any plans for how long you will play college hockey?
“No, I’m not stressing it at all. I’m a goaltender and nobody’s particularly young when they join the NHL at that position. I think it’s good to be growing and playing college hockey is going to be good for me. It’s a good step for me. If I don’t get ready, I won’t go anywhere else, and I think I will be happy and stay there for a couple of years.”