15 June 2010

Three Norwegians in NHL - more to come?

Outside the Hockey Hall of Fame, Toronto, Canada (2008).

On Monday it became known that the Norwegian ice hockey player Mathis Olimb of Frölunda Indians had signed a 1-year contract with the Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks. This means that next season there will be at least three Norwegians playing in the National Hockey League (NHL), as Jonas Holøs (Colorado Avalance) and Mats Zuccarello Aasen (New York Rangers) have already signed contracts. And if that is not enough, Patrick Thoresen will most likely be ready for a NHL club soon. He has already terminated his contract with the Russian team Salavat Julajev and might return to his former club Philadelphia Flyers, unless the club chooses to waive its rights.

Three Norwegians playing in NHL at the same time would alone be a new record, and four players would just be fabulous! Of course there is a chance that one or possibly two of the Norwegians will end up playing for the respective clubs' farmer team, but both Aasen and Thoresen will most likely establish themselves in the NHL.

Patrick Thoresen has besides Philadelphia Flyers also played for Edmonton Oilers. Other former Norwegian players in the NHL are Bjørn "Botta" Skaare (Detroit Red Wings), Anders Myrvold (Colorado Avalance, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings), Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (Colombus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers (he never got any games for Detroit Red Wings)) and Espen "Shampo" Knutsen (Anaham Mighty Ducks (now not "Mighty" anylonger) and Columbus Blue Jackets).

The Stanley Cup champions of 2009-2010, Chicaco Blackhawks, already has a Norwegian connection, as Dustin Byfuglien (usually pronounced BUFF-lin in the States) descends from Etnedalen in Valdres. At the Norwegian Digitalarkivet's users' forum several genealogists, including yours sincerely, are making an attempt to find his roots. Surely there have been many other Norwegian-Americans in the NHL before, such as Byfuglien's stepfather Dale Smedmo, who played for Toronto Maple Leafs in the early 1970s.

Sources and references

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