We continue our tour of European hockey with a stop at the birthplace of Swedish Fish, because really, who doesn’t love Swedish Fish. In fact, I enjoy Swedish Fish so much that I am writing about TWO leagues in Sweden that have received NHL imports whilst waiting for the NHL and NHLPA to play nice.
I like to kick off my posts with a few fun facts about the country I am writing about, and today is no different. Luckily for me, I stumbled upon Amusing Facts about Sweden (which I invite you to check out because it is pretty interesting). Here are three of my favorites:
- All employers are required to provide free massage.
- All employees get five weeks of vacation a year.
- The government sends you your taxes already filled out, you just need to look it over online and click to pay (or you can pay with a SMS message from your cell phone).
Other crowd-pleasers include 13 months of maternity leave, any purchased product is covered under a one-year warranty (clothes and shoes are even included) and that daycare costs are based on your income (and are about 1/10th of the cost of daycare here in the states). Granted you pay 50-70% of your income in taxes… but who doesn’t love a free massage?!
Moving on. Sweden is home to 15 different hockey leagues (and Swedish meatballs), with the top two being Elitserien and Allsvenskan, both of which have received a plethora of out of work NHLers. Here are the fast facts on both leagues:
Countries with Elitserien and Allsvenskan teams: (E) Sweden- 12 (A) Sweden- 14
2012 Champions: (E) Brynas (A) Timra IL and Rogle BK (I’ll explain in a moment)
Year Founded: (E) 1975 (A) 2005
Number of regular season games: 55
Let’s get back to the champion (or should i say champions) in Allsvenskan. Elitserien and Allsvenskan have a season structure that includes post-season relegation (Kvalserien). Kvalserien is the Swedish round-robin post-season tournament that pits the bottom two Elitserien teams against the top four Allsvenskan teams. I read a ton of articles on this tournament trying to figure out how the heck it works, but i think Bill Metzer from nhl.com has the perfect comparison to make it easier to understand using the Montreal Canadiens. Last season was a special Kvalserien, because Rogle became the first Allsvenskan playoff team in history to be promoted to the top league, Elitserien through the playoffs.
Both leagues have received players courtesy of the NHL lockout. Players like Matt Duchene (Frolunda), Alexander Steen (MODO) and former Admiral Cody Franson (Brynas) have signed with Elitserien teams, while Av’s captain Gabriel Landeskog (Djrugarden), Matt Read (Sodertalje) and Anze Kopitar (Mora) have signed with squads in Allsvenskan. And for the record, no NHLers have signed with Asploven. Apparently, no one has had interest in playing in an 800-person arena in the northern 10,000-person Swedish town of Haparanda that is on the complete other side of the country from the other teams in the league.
There also a great blog about Elitserien that is written in English that I suggest you bookmark as we make our way through the 2012-2013 season. Elitserien in English. It’s an up-to-date resource for recent news in the league, plus, it’s in English so us North Americans can read it without copy and pasting everything into the translation website (which i find to be a bonus because it no longer takes me an hour and a half to read a two paragraph article).
Before I wrap this up, I urge you to check out Swedish news The Local’s Five fun facts about Sweden’s Elitserien. Fact number two is particularly disturbing, and I have to admit this is the first time I’ve seen sex toys at a hockey game (and hopefully the last).
And for the record, yes, Swedish Fish are indeed Swedish. They are produced by Swedish candy giant Malaco, and the flavors you see on the shelves at your local store were specifically developed for the North American market. Don’t you just feel special.