Mikael Samuelsson issued some choice words for Team Sweden officials for excluding him from the Olympic roster after helping the team win gold at the Turin Olympics in 2006.
“I’m probably going to get in trouble for this, but (Team Sweden officials) can go (explitive) themselves,” Samuelsson told Vancouver reporters.
Samuelsson signed with Vancouver as a free agent during the offseason after playing four seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. In 39 games with the Canucks, Samuelsson currently has 10 goals and 14 assists and could be on pace for a career season in points.
Obviously Samuelsson’s snub wouldn’t be a big deal if other players named to the roster were having better seasons. The inclusion of players such as Samuel Pahlsson and Fredrick Modin, both of the Columbus Blue Jackets, raised some eyebrows in wake of Samuelsson’s snub. Neither player can match Samuelsson’s offensive numbers this season and both players have experienced injury-shortened seasons in recent years.
Modin, specifically, became an immediate question mark when the roster was unveiled several days ago. While he might be capable of producing 50-60 points in a full season, health certainly remains an issue. Modin has only played in 73 games over the last two seasons combined and has only appeared in nine games for Columbus this season, whereas Samuelsson has appeared in all 39 games for Vancouver. In fact, since becoming an NHL regular with Detroit in 2005-06, Samuelsson only played less than 70 games in one season once when he played in 53 games in 2006-07. However, Samuelsson also registered one of his best point-per-game seasons when he had 34 points in those 53 games.
Samuelsson also has experience on his side. Not only did he help Sweden win the gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics, but he made it to the Stanley Cup Finals twice with Detroit, winning the Stanley Cup once in 2008. He knows the work ethic involved in winning. Samuelsson is also a good two-way player – something that Sweden will need when they face offensive powerhouses such as Russia and Canada. Twice in his career Samuelsson has finished the season with a plus-20 or better. Only once in his career has he fallen into the minus category.
Good friend and former Red Wings teammate Andreas Lilja stuck up for Samuelsson’s outburst and said it’s good for players to share what they’re thinking.
“I think it’s kind of nice when someone says what they really think instead of saying, ‘OK, it was their decision, nothing I can do about it,’ ” Lilja said. “Nice that people show emotions because he’s (ticked off). I don’t blame him. When I look at our Swedish team, he’s one of the guys I would put in there first. He felt obviously mistreated.”
Team Sweden captain Nicklas Lidstrom was surpised by Samuelsson’s snub.
“I was a little bit surprised he didn’t get picked,” Lidstrom said. “He’s a competitive player. It really shows on the ice, even though he’s not a fighter, he gets his nose in there and he’s not afraid to get dirty.”
With a little less than two months to go until the puck drops for the 2010 Olympics, there still might be a chance that Samuelsson comes on board as an alternate if a player gets injured or to replace a currently injured player who doesn’t recover in time, such as Daniel Alfredsson who will be out for the next few weeks with a separated shoulder. Although Alfredsson is expected to be back before the Olympic break, if he suffers a set-back and is unable to go, Samuelsson may now be on the radar as a possible replacement.