HockeyNews.se’s Mattias Ek spoke with Red Wings executive Niklas Kronwall regarding his role with the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation for the upcoming 2022 Olympics in Beijing. Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg are to serve as advisors to Swedish Olympic team GM Johan Garpenlov.
Garpenlov, Nicklas Backstrom, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Kronwall all spoke with Ek regarding Zetterberg and Kronwall’s roles with Team Sweden. What follows is roughly translated from Swedish:
Kronwall on his key role in the Olympics–praised by NHL players
Stockholm. Stanley Cup and Olympic-winning Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg will have a big influence when the Tre Kronor will take their Olympic team to Beijing in February.
“They know how to come together as a team and prepare in the best possible way. It’s only a positive,” says Nicklas Backstrom to HockeyNews.se.
If all goes well, and as intended in negotiations between the NHL and the International Olympic Committee, the NHL players will participate in the Olympics in Beijing.
National team general manager Johan Garpenlov will present the Tre Kronor’s Olympic team on January 24, 2022, consisting of three goaltenders and 22 skaters.
To perform as well as possible and to succeed in fighting for Olympic gold in six months, Garpenlov has connected with former Detroit and Tre Kronor stars Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg.
“They’ll serve as advisors to the management team. They’ll be 100% involved in all future decisions. They’ll be a part of the team, and will be part of scouting and will take part in the trips that we take. They’ll use their contacts, and again, be involved in everything, really. A bit like we had with “Lidas” (Nicklas Lidstrom), “Sudden” (Mats Sundin) and “Affe” (Daniel Alfredsson) during the World Cup of Hockey. They will provide good support for us where we can use them and their skills,” says Johan Garpenlov to HockeyNews.se.
The idea is that both Kronwall and Zetterberg will be part of the Tre Kronor’s management’s scouting trips to NHL teams, if the coronavirus pandemic allows.
“We have to go over and look, if it’s possible. Right now it looks preetty dark, but hopefully we can go over and around and meet the players over there and see them in their own environment,” says Garpenlov.
The Tre Kronor has gathered approximately 30 current NHL players in Stockholm this week to go through similar ideas and solve practical things before the Olympic stars take part in the tournament in Beijing. Not since the 2014 Olympics in Sochi have players been allowed to participate in the Olympics.
Niklas Kronwall was there then (in 2014), and took over as team captain when Henrik Zetterberg was injured after the first game. He will now have a key role on the Olympic team.
“I will act as a sounding board for Garpenlov and also (Marcus) Ragnarsson, on the defensive side. It’s a bit of everything, from ideas about the game to team selection. It was not so long ago that Henrik and I both played. We probably have some feelings left about what the players might want,” says Kronwall to HockeyNews.se during the gathering at a casino in central Stockholm.
What are you pushing for when it comes to the Tre Kronor’s game ideas?
“I think the most important part is to sort out the game together without the puck. That’s where those details lie. All teams play a little differently, and we have two or maybe three practices before the first games, so you don’t have much time to play. It’s important to quickly get the guys in the right lines, so everybody knows what’s expected of each player in different situations. A lot will be decided on special teams and in the game in front of the goaltender,” says Kronwall.
But he can not stress enough:
“There are an incredible number of good teams. Canada could in principle have two teams in place, and they could probably meet in the finals. They’re so deep. It’s important that we get our game together without the puck, and get the group together.”
Both Kronwall and Zetterberg will thus be involved in team selection before the Olympics.
“It’s a bit like putting a puzzle together. The pieces have to fit together in some way. The distribution of roles will be extremely important. There will be players who normally play for 25 minutes on their teams, but will play 14 on this team. The players have to be prepared for that, and to buy into it, and do it fully. So if you go all the way, everybody has to buy into their roles fully. I don’t think that will be a problem in itself, but I think it’s important that they understand the conditions,” says Kronwall.
Among the established Tre Kronor players, help from Kronwall and Zetterberg is welcome.
“I think it’s good. They’ve had very successful careers, and have a lot of experience, and have been very successful in tournaments like this,” says Nicklas Backstrom to HockeyNews.se.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who’s been the team captain for the Tre Kronor in the World Championship context, agrees with Backstrom.
“For everyone, from leaders to players, to be able to have them around as a sounding board, and know what they’ve done in their hockey careers. Then there are amazing people who both really care and want to help. It feels fantastic that they want to be part of this journey. It’s a lot of fun,” says Ekman-Larsson to HockeyNews.se.