Monday, October 10, 2011

The Ekholm Diaries: A Rookie's Blog

It would be interesting as a fan to see what the life of a rookie in the NHL is like, especially one that has traveled half way around the world to try to make an NHL club. Imagine the excitement, the stress, and the challenge of assimilating into a new culture while all the time competing for a roster spot.

Readers of the View From 111 will have the opportunity to do just that over the next few weeks. Mattias Ekholm has been blogging back to his home town newspaper, Dalarnas Tidningar, about his life in the NHL. He and the Predators have graciously agreed to share the blog with me to provide a glimpse into the life of an NHL hopeful.

A special stick tap goes to my friend Patricia Blair, a major league Predators fan, who translated the blog for me. Her translations are faithful to Mattias' native language, but as one can imagine, there is some disjointedness as the language switches from Swedish to English. Nevertheless, Patricia has done a marvelous job of getting the sense of what Mattias is trying to convey. As you look at these entries, I have used editorial license to excerpt the most relevant parts of what Mattias has to say. The excerpts are verbatim from the translation of his blog. 

So you want to travel across the globe and play in the NHL at age 21? Let's find out what that is like. In this segment, we are going to view the blog entries from Mattias that begin with his departure from home until the start of rookie camp.


My name is Mattias Ekholm. I am 21. And I live with my girlfriend Amanda (floorball player for IBF Falun). I live in Gävle, for now. However, in three days, I will go to the US and the “Country Music City”, Nashville. (Good music) There I will (try to) take a spot with the NHL team, the Nashville Predators. A little American self-confidence we get there, also!

That is, well, all you need to know about me for now, you will probably come to get a clearer picture as the blogging goes forward. So, here in the blog through short summaries, you will follow my daily life as an ice hockey player in the US, get a little peek at how different it can be to play at home in “secure” Mora compared to fighting for a spot on an NHL team. Believe me when I say the difference can be enormous sometimes, even if, in the end, it is only hockey.

So, I hope now you will follow my exploits “over there” and I will try to share a number of days. (Depending on internet availability) The plane leaves early Monday morning, 9:15, so, I have a little time today to pack my suitcase! I am thankful for all possible comments/views/critiques you have, so we see that this becomes a success or two!


We begin the last day in Sweden for an unknown time with a double entry. I don’t really know how the possibilities look for an update tomorrow, but I will do my best. The bags are 95% packed, it feels good, I don’t believe I could have forgotten anything, in fact! Anyway, I should be able to buy most things in the States, I hope! So now, I think I will search for the bed, since we have an early morning in front of us! And sign out from, presumably, the last entry on Swedish soil!


Arrived at last! Hampton Inn and Suites is the name of my home for the upcoming weeks (months?). Cool surprise that they have renovated the hotel, lived here every summer camp and much fresher looking than usual! But otherwise no big surprises, so far! The trip, all things considered, went well, no delays, little boring, but my Playstation portable is a very good pastime up in the air!

Met by a prolonged cloudburst here in Nashville, evidently there will be some “storm” which wrecks havoc nearby. Hope we avoid it! The weather should be around 30 degrees C and sunny this time of year, must have a little patience it appears . . .

Otherwise, since arriving, I have only settled in my room, gone out and eaten a little lunch and now lie in bed and watch some old golf film on TV! Not so much to report on. It will be nice to go on the ice tomorrow. The first time in 4 days (begin to feel it in the legs). Then we will see what happens tomorrow, perhaps a little movie if the rainy weather continues! Now, I shall at last go to sleep.


The day begins dealing with being awake by 6, stupid jet lag (good word choice?) and the clock rings first at 8 . . . Then down to the rink for a little practice. Little by little, scratched together 3 hours! First, one hour in the gym and then two on ice! Very nice to be back on the ice again, feels surprisingly good today, I must say! Must see to it that it stays that way. Was fairly calm with some drills the first hour, then match play the last hour! Light new sticks and other equipment felt good. So, we have a positive feeling, so far!

Then my “buddies” and I spent the afternoon at a shopping mall here in the neighborhood, very pleasant! We also went to the movies and saw a fairly strange but entertaining film named, “Shark Night”. Worth seeing, a little “The Shark” series feel about it. I give it 3.5 on a 5 scale! Completely okay grade from me, usually I am stingy with 5. After the film we ate dinner at “The Cheesecake Factory”. Absolutely enormous restaurant. Really good food. I only had a salad. but it was really good! Little different size if you compare with Kaffetstugan in Mora, three times bigger at least! It’s just the way they live over here; everything should be as big as possible!

Sorrowful day 9/8/2011

I must devote a few lines of this entry to the terrible event in Russia today. One has difficulty to find words for what has happened. Especially, when I had the chance to meet and play with Stefan, as you certainly read everywhere, there are only positive words to describe his personality and nature. I cannot say that I was particularly close to him or such, but still, it is a huge sorrow. Rest in Peace Stefan Liv and all who were lost in the plane crash.

Today has been a day like all other days in the big view, began with morning practice (yeap, 3 hours today, again!) then lunch at a fine place that I forgot the name of, but it was good! I had some type of chicken and salad, a big difference from home! I don’t believe there are many restaurants in Sweden which would serve half a grilled chicken with a little salad, no rice/pasta/potatoes whatever! Here it is proteins one wants to eat! After this, most of the day was spent looking around on the net to follow the developments from the tragic event!

I must say that I am very thankful that we only needed to be here five days before camp begins, easy to become right long and tough days. Then with a half bad internet there is not too much to find on, I try to catch all the tv-series from home, in any case. Have watched a little Idol, Adam Live, Single mamma seeks, etc. Intend, in fact, to give the new series on 5, “Swedish Millionaires” a chance this evening, will come with a grade on it tomorrow!

Hotel boredom! 9/9/2011

Today has really been a day like many others. As usual, I wake two hours before the clock rings, (Yeap, jet lag sits in!) Breakfast and then down to the rink for the day’s practice! Little calmer today, as a matter of fact, real nice when you think about the big test the week has been! Little gym – 30 minutes, then on ice - one hour, ended with a little relaxed small team play - appreciate it!
I’m lucky that there are some really nice guys here to hang out with, think I will make a little, quick introduction of those who I spend the most time with! First we have a guy from Switzerland named Roman Josi and then we have two Canadians named Mike Latta and Taylor Beck. I have gotten to know them during the summer camps I have been to here. Terribly nice to have some who you already know well and don’t need to get to know everyone from scratch to have someone you can hang out with. I should probably say those three are my best buddies here, but about 10 guys live on one hall here in the hotel, so we do the most together. I will ask the boys if they will take a picture for tomorrow’s blog!

Speaking of tomorrow, the serious work starts for real tomorrow, no practice, but rookie camp starts with physicals and a group dinner. Real nice that it begins, finally, so we get to compete a little. The practices we have had here are clearly a tough tempo, but it never is really the same thing, in the physical play, for example. Then I believe we have practice on the weekend and early Monday we go to Florida for 2 matches! Not a bad place we must go to. It means a lot. Have heard that it will be a pretty scrubby ice hall, but it is only two matches, so it will probably work!

21 years of age and a stranger in a new town, trying to make an NHL roster. No pressure there, eh? What jumps out to me is his poise and calmness about the entire adventure.  The American personification of doing everything on a grand scale is picked up as he describes the Cheesecake Factory as "absolutely enormous" and "it's just the way they live over here".
It was amusing to see the Panthers practice ice called a "scrubby ice hall", as I'm sure the staff in Sunrise would beg to differ. Again, interesting perceptions from this young man as he makes the journey from his home to the States and tries to make the roster.
In the next installment, we will pick up his view of some of his rookie teammates and how he feels about his effort in rookie camp.


  1. What an amazing read..Now this is where the quality of blogging really stands out. So fascinating to read the impressions of a young hockey player from another country transitioning to Nashville. I could read stuff like this for hours and hours.

  2. great stuff. thanks!

  3. Now if only he would write, "I want to stay in North America and not go back to Sweden..."