Earlier this summer, Red Wings prospect Albin Grewe “crossed the pond,” signing with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit after the Canadian Hockey League’s import draft.
Grewe, a physical forward, hoped to play much more regularly than he did as a member of Djurgardens IF in Sweden.
Grewe had some harsh words for Djurgardens because he felt that he was unable to earn a regular shift with the team during the 2019-2020 season; instead, Grewe often played on the SHL team’s fourth line, as a 13th forward, or he played in the Under-20 league.
As it turns out, the OHL’s decision to not start their 2020-2021 season until December has Grewe looking for a little redemption with the team he “dissed.”
Hockeysverge.se’s Mans Karlsson reports that Grewe is walking back his harsher remarks as he prepares to spend a couple of months skating his way toward regular playing time. What follows is a rough translation of Karlsson’s article:
Left Djurgarden–now he plays for Djurgarden
He felt that he had ended up boxed in in Djurgarden, and chose to leave to play games for the Saginaw Spirit in the OHL. But the coronavirus pandemic has caused the OHL season to be postponed–and, therefore, Grewe remains with the team he decided to leave.
“Jocke (Ericsson, general manager) was kind enough to let me stay here,” says Grewe to Hockeysverige.se.
“I ended up stuck in a compartment with Djurgarden. When I played, it was on the fourth line, or as an extra forward. It was hard to get out of that spot. It takes a lot to get out of that, but, at the same time, it’s very difficult to do so when you only play an average of six minutes per game.”
“That’s why I chose to go over to the OHL. To be able to play on a top line, average 16-17 minutes per game, and contribute in an offensive role.”
That’s what Albin Grewe said to Hockeysverige.se this summer, when he discussed his decision to leave Djurgarden for games with the Saginaw Spirit in the USA. The idea was that he would be known in Canada by now, but that hasn’t happend. Due to the global pandemic, known as the Coronavirus pandemic, the start of the OHL season has been postponed until December
And Grewe now remains with the team he decided to leave.
“It’s not what I thought would happen, if I must say so. Actually, I thought I’d be over there now. But we came to a quick solution where I spoke with Jocke (Eriksson, the general manager of Djurgardens IF), and he was kind and let me stay here and practice and play games, says Grewe to Hockeysverige.se.
Sees an opening on the team
Instead of preparing for the start of the OHL season, Albin Grewe is now preparing to earn a spot on Djurgardens’ top level team in the SHL.
“What’s been said is that I’ll stay here and compete for a place until I leave, and that I will compete on the same terms that everyone else does before the SHL premiere. Right now, I think that it’s going to be very fun to try to earn a spot. It’s also fun that there are so many young players who are up and coming, everyone is there for a reason. We’ll compete with each other, but we’re also good friends as well, which is fun.”
When Grewe decided to leave Djurgarden, he thought that the chances of earning a reasonably large role on the team were small. Now Djurgarden has a lot of injury problems, and the Coronavirus pandemic has meant that they’ve also been forced to invest in a cheaper roster. That may open the door for its younger players, like Grewe, to earn a bigger role in the team’s hierarchy.
“Absolutely, it feels like I can get a little higher up on the team. Right now it feels good to be part of training with Djurgarden. There are some important players who have left, so even though there are still many good players on the team, there may be some openings here and there. It’s just about working hard. Then it will usually resolve itself,” he says.
Went straight to the OHL
Last season, Albin Grewe quickly became a fan favorite with his intense ice hockey play and his rock-hard role. He had just been selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the third round of the NHL draft, and the NHL team built a close relationship with the “T-Rex.”
The Red Wings were also a driving force that wanted Grewe to go to North America for this season. Now, for a time, at least until December, he’ll remain in Sweden, but the NHL team is happy to see their talented player play for Djurgarden instead.
“We have a close relationship and talk almost every week. But they just think it’s good that I can be with Djurgarden. Otherwise I might have had to train on my own and not play at all. It’s better that I get to practice with Djurgarden, both they and I think.”
Is there a plan to go over to the Red Wings’ training camp, or are you going straight into the OHL?
“I’ve talked with Detroit about that, and it’s straight into the OHL as it applies to this season. That’s the plan.”
The OHL’s “return to play” plan was unveiled in early August. The league announced that it wanted to start play on the first of December. The players didn’t receive any information after that.
Albin Grewe says that the plan is for him to go over to the USA in November at some point. But the uncertainty has been difficult for the talented forward.
“In a way, it’s been difficult. I was set to go in August, as it was planned from the beginning. So it became a bit like walking around and thinking about whether it would start, and if I should start [on my own] and things like that. At the same time, I get to practice with Djurgarden and I’m very grateful for that, so I really can’t complain. It’s just fun to train here, and then we’ll see what happens over there. I can’t influence that anyway.”
The stress before the World Junior Championship
The World Junior Championship begins just three weeks after the OHL season begins. Is that something that’s been stressing you out?
“Yes, it’s a little tough. You end up in a pinch. A big reason why I chose to go over to the OHL was because I would have more playing time, and would be able to show myself more before the World Juniors. Now that the season begins in December, and at the same time, the World Juniors also begin. I won’t have much time to show myself over there,” says the 19-year-old, who continues:
“Now I think that I have to take the chance with Djurgarden before I go. I think that’s what they’ll loo for before naming the team.”
Does it feel frustrating that this happened?
“Yes, actually, it does. I wanted to go over to have time to show myself before the WJC, but if the season over there doesn’t start until December, I won’t have the time to do it before the team’s selected. But I have to make the best of the situation. I am very motivated to do as well as possible with Djurgarden instead.
The forward doesn’t shy away from the fact that his season’s big goal is to play at the World Junior Championship. But, at the same time, he feels that, after playing in 19 SHL games this past season, it’s also time to seriously join Djurgarden’s men’s team.
“Of course, the WJC is the goal. I want to be there. But, at the same time, I want to focus on having a better season than last year. Then, I had a hard time with a lot of dislike between the Under-20 league team and the SHL team.
“Now I know that I will be with Djurgarden for a while to come, so now I want to settle in there and feel what it’s like to be a SHL player for real. I’ve already played some games, so it’s time to settle in there now. I know that I am competing for a spot, so I have good conditions to be able to have a better season and be well-prepared for when I can go over and play in the NHL,” the prospect concludes.