Another golden chance for Ohlund

St. Petersburg Times (Florida)

By: IZZY GOULD
Times Staff Writer

 
HIGHLIGHT: 

Lightning’s Mattias Ohlund, part of Sweden’s 2006 Olympic champs, is picked for 2010 team.
 
TAMPA — His Olympic gold medal is tucked away somewhere in his father’s home.

There’s no grandiose display, not even a trophy case to celebrate any of the hockey achievements of Mattias Ohlund.

The Lightning’s rugged defense-man says he pulls the medal out sometimes but admits he’s not too sentimental when it comes to hockey games, even Sweden’s 3-2 victory against archrival Finland in the 2006 Olympics gold-medal game in Turin, Italy.

“I’m happy I was part of that tournament, and I’m happy we won,” Ohlund said. “You move on and look forward to the next day.”

Ohlund, 33, is surely feeling something after being selected Sunday to play for Sweden in his fourth Olympics, in February at Vancouver.

Rookie defenseman Victor Hedman was not selected but hopes to be picked as a replacement in case of injuries before the 23-player rosters are locked in Feb. 15.

For Ohlund, this Olympics will be a homecoming of sorts. He spent 12 seasons playing for the Canucks. Ohlund signed a seven-year free-agent contract last summer with the Lightning worth $25.25 million.

“Regardless of where the Olympics is, it’s going to be a fantastic experience, even more so when it’s in Vancouver, where I have so many friends,” he said.

Ohlund’s Olympic experiences have been interesting. He missed the final two games in ’06 with rib and shoulder injuries after he crashed into the boards with Switzerland’s Patric Della Rossa. He left before the gold-medal game and was later awarded his medal.

In Salt Lake in 2002, he was on the Swedish team that was upset by Belarus in the quarterfinals, still considered one of the biggest Olympic upsets.

Ohlund has played in 14 games in the Olympics, collecting five points, all assists.

“I enjoy all of them,” Ohlund said. “(Belarus) was a big upset. You’re upset at the time, but then you look back and enjoy just the whole experience.”

Ohlund said he enjoys the camaraderie that comes with wearing the yellow and blue track suits many of Sweden’s athletes wear at the Games. He also enjoys spending time with all athletes, not just hockey players.

“It’s so much different than what we’re used to,” Ohlund said. “You’re eating, not at the fancy restaurants you’re used to and the fancy hotel rooms. It’s very different, and it’s very grounding in a way. It’s awesome to be a part of it.”

Hedman, 19, looked at his computer early Sunday morning to learn he did not make the team. He did not speak with anyone from Sweden before heading to the St. Pete Times Forum for practice, arriving by 9:15 a.m.

“Of course you’re a little disappointed, but on the other hand, (Sweden coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson) knows what he’s doing,” Hedman said. “He picked the team that won the last (Olympics). I can’t blame him. Of course, I have a lot of work ahead of me.”

Hedman is averaging 22:16 of ice time, second to Ohlund’s 23:56. Hedman has three goals and eight assists and is second among the Lightning defensemen with 11 points. Ohlund has eight assists.

Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said Sweden’s coach had tough roster decisions to make.

“How young do you go? Experience vs. inexperience,” he said. “(Hedman is) the type of guy, I guarantee you, if the NHL (participates in) another Olympics … he will definitely be on the roster.”

FAST FACTS: Swedish Olympians

Sweden’s provisional roster for February’s Vancouver Olympics, announced Sunday. Injury replacements are allowed until Feb. 15, when final rosters are submitted.

Position…Player…………………..Team

G………..Henrik Lundqvist………Rangers

G………..Jonas Gustavsson…….Maple Leafs

G………..Stefan Liv ……………..Jonkoping (Sweden)

D………..Tobias Enstrom……….Thrashers

D………..Magnus Johansson…..Linkopings (Sweden)

D………..Niklas Kronwall……….Red Wings

D………..Nicklas Lidstrom………Red Wings

D………..Douglas Murray……….Sharks

D………..Johnny Oduya…………Devils

D………..Mattias Ohlund………..Lightning

D………..Henrik Tallinder……….Sabres

F…………Daniel Alfredsson…….Senators

F…………Nicklas Backstrom…….Capitals

F…………Loui Eriksson…………..Stars

F…………Peter Forsberg…………Modo (Sweden)

F…………Tomas Holmstrom…….Red Wings

F…………Patric Hornqvist……….Predators

F…………Fredrik Modin………….Blue Jackets

F…………Samuel Pahlsson……..Blue Jackets

F…………Daniel Sedin…………..Canucks

F…………Henrik Sedin…………..Canucks

F…………Mattias Weinhandl…….Dynamo (Russia)

F…………Henrik Zetterberg…….Red Wings 

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