APRIL FOOLS – The Sabres go Swedish

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by Colleen Meosky

It’s no secret that the Buffalo Sabres roster includes many Swedish names. It was the reason why the team was selected to participate in the NHL Global Series in Stockholm earlier this season. Victor Olofsson, Linus Ullmark, Marcus Johansson, Johan Larsson, and Rasmus Dahlin have all been consistently on the Sabres’ roster this year with exceptions for injury. Buffalo also has the rights to numerous Swedes playing for the AHL affiliate in Rochester including Lawrence Pilut, who has made a handful of appearances in Buffalo this year. Last summer, General Manager Jason Botterill replaced Phil Housley with Ralph Krueger for the head coaching position. Krueger has spent the majority of his coaching career working for European teams and is very familiar with the Swedish style of hockey having played against multiple Swedish teams at different tournaments. It’s been speculated that this experience was the main reason for his hiring. The organization was searching for a coach to develop the 1st overall draft pick of 2018 (Rasmus Dahlin) and all of his fellow countrymen prospects. Ralph 

Krueger is often regarded as an intelligent man who teaches smart methods of hockey. This may be why the team is supposedly hiring Rikard Grönborg of the Swedish Men’s National team as assistant coach at Ralph Krueger’s request. 

    The NHL is mostly North American with English as the primary language. Coach Krueger is planning on adding Grönborg to encourage the Swedish Sabres to speak their native language, especially on the ice. Communicating in Swedish will help the Sabres’ on ice performance because the opponents will no longer be able to interpret the calls for plays and anticipate them. Considering that the Sabres is still mostly English-speaking, there is expected to be a rough transition period. However, Botterill has been favoring the recruitment of Swedes in recent years, so at this rate, the Buffalo Sabres will be predominantly Swedish by the 2023-24 season once the prospects have developed in the AHL, and the issue will resolve itself. On March 25 of this year, Mattias Samuelsson was signed onto the team at an entry-level contract. While he was born in New Jersey, Mattias is the son of Kjell Samuelsson who is a former Swedish NHL player. 

Additionally, the Buffalo Sabres want to further their policy of warmly welcoming new recruits to Buffalo and making them feel at home. This has led to the decision to change the plans for the new jerseys. They originally planned to revert back to royal blue in the 2020-21 season. However, Pegula Sports and Entertainment is expected to announce later this week that the jerseys will bear a closer resemblance to the Swedish colors(a lighter blue and yellow). The blue of the Swedish flag represents loyalty and skill, and that’s what the Buffalo Sabres are hoping to receive from their players.

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