Svartvadet brings defensive smarts to Thrashers
Sunday, 12 August 2007
Originally published on EuroReport.com in 2000
By Lucas Aykroyd
In the NHL, the jersey number 39 is most closely associated with superstar Buffalo goalie Dominik Hasek. Per Svartvadet of the Atlanta Thrashers also wears that number, and although he may not be quite as adept as Hasek at preventing goals, he is an excellent defensive forward. In his rookie campaign with the Thrashers last year, the 6-1, 195-pound native of Solleftea, Sweden set a team record with a plus or even rating in 19 straight games from 2 October to 25 November 1999. That was no mean feat on a first-year expansion team that allowed a league-worst 313 goals. Svartvadet was originally tabbed to play for the Dallas Stars, who chose him 139th overall in the sixth round of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, but he was traded to Atlanta on 25 June 1999 on the heels of his best-ever season with MoDo (9-23-32 in 50 games). Somewhere down the road, he aspires to add a Stanley Cup to his silver and bronze medals with the Swedish world junior teams of 1994 and 1995. EuroReport caught up with Svartvadet after his Thrashers tied Vancouver 1-1 at GM Place on 28 October.
EuroReport: What’s the biggest difference between this year’s Atlanta Thrashers and last year’s edition?
Per Svartvadet: We’ve changed our roster a little bit, with younger, faster kids. Also, this year we’re playing a new system. I really like it and the team likes it. So far, so good. We have one win and four ties with only three losses, so it’s a good system.
EuroReport: You’re being used in a lot of roles: left wing, center, penalty killing. How do you enjoy the variety?
Svartvadet: I like it a lot. That’s how I used to play in Sweden too. I like to play a lot and in different kinds of styles.
EuroReport: Are you happy with your personal performance to date?
Svartvadet: Yup! Couldn’t be better.
EuroReport: Having been a captain yourself with MoDo, what do you think of how Steve Staios is filling the role for Atlanta?
Svartvadet: I think it was the right choice, and Steve Staios is the perfect captain for us. He’s really good. Hard-working guy on the ice and good in the locker room with all the guys.
EuroReport: Is it strange for you to be playing hockey in a Southern city like Atlanta?
Svartvadet: Sometimes. The crowd at home in Sweden knew a lot about hockey. Then I went to Atlanta, and people there hardly knew what hockey was. It was a big difference. But I think it’s really fun. The fans are starting to learn more about it, every game.
EuroReport: I understand your assistant coach, George Kingston, runs a lot of marathons. Does he ever invite the players to go out for a run with him?
Svartvadet: Um, so far I haven’t heard anything. Maybe I have to check to get an invitation from him!
EuroReport: Back in Sweden, you played for several seasons against your current teammate Andreas Karlsson, who was with Leksand. Did you guys have a good rivalry going?
Svartvadet: Oh yeah! All the time. I played with him on the world junior team and the national team, so I knew him a little bit. But we always had a big fight in Sweden with Leksand versus MoDo.
EuroReport: Why did you decide to delay coming over to North America for six seasons after being drafted?
Svartvadet: Basically, I was drafted by Dallas, and they had a good team. They didn’t need me at that point. I said, “Why not play a few more years at home?” Atlanta watched me in some games in Sweden when they picked me up, and by then I was ready to come over and play.
EuroReport: What do you think of the transition Daniel and Henrik Sedin are making to the NHL this year?
Svartvadet: They’re good players, and I am not surprised that they’ve had a good start. They’re going to be among the biggest players in this league in a couple of years. It’s just fun to watch them.
EuroReport: Obviously you’re not in Vancouver for very long now. Have you had a chance to hang out with them and catch up, maybe check out their new Volvos?
Svartvadet: Not so far. I check out their Volvos back home, so I don’t need to do it here!
EuroReport: Just for the benefit of our English-speaking readers, does “Svartvadet” mean anything special in Swedish?
Svartvadet: It’s “black bet.” Like when you bet money on horses or games. It’s from Norway. My grandfather was Norwegian, so it’s a difficult name!
EuroReport: Finally, what’s the main thing this team has to do to make the playoffs?
Svartvadet: We have to play like we did tonight and against Edmonton, working hard. We need every guy all the time. If we can get our power play going, we should have a good chance of making the playoffs.