Dustin Bradford/Icon SMI)
Last summer’s second overall pick at the NHL Draft, Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche, jumped straight into the NHL as many thought he might. Landeskog has traveled far in one year's time, as he now stands as a finalist for the Calder Trophy given to the NHL's Rookie of the Year.
The 6’1”, 205-pound forward is now back in Sweden proudly wearing the ‘Tre Kronor’ sweater right in his own backyard of Stockholm, participating in his first men’s World Championship. Hockey’s Future got a chance to ask him about this experience after his first game at this tournament.
Hockey’s Future: Gabriel, you just defeated an upstart Norwegian team. That country is like your little hockey brother to the west and they came in here with a good crowd following and nothing to lose, but clearly playing with the goal of giving the tournament its first big upset. Was it hard for you guys to get up for and start off this World Championships against this opponent?
Gabriel Landeskog: I wouldn’t say it’s hard to get up for a game like this. It’s the World Championships and we’re at home. This was the first game of the tournament. You have to go out and play. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing. They’re obviously a great team and they’ve come a long way the past few years. They’ve done a great job of getting their hockey up to a really great standard. They’re a good team and we really had to fight out there to get the win.
HF: Tonight you played on a line with a couple of good young kids in Calle Jarnkrok and Jakob Silfverberg. What do you think is the idea behind the kid line?
GL: No, we’re having a lot of fun I think. The two of them are fresh off of winning the Swedish championship this year. They know what they’re doing out there. They’re good players and I’m just trying to find some open ice and work hard. We click a little bit. I mean I’ve played with Calle Jarnkrok a bit before and a lot of those types of guys before, so it’s a lot of fun to be doing it here at the men’s level.
HF: Now I’m certain you’d rather be playing in the NHL playoffs right now, but you’re from this area and there must have been times in the past where you dreamt of playing a World Championship right in front of the home town crowd. This has got to be a dream come true, right?
GL: That had always been a dream until just a few weeks ago when I got that call from the federation. It’s all been a real whirlwind, you know, losing out on the NHL playoffs and all, but there wasn’t any question about me coming over and playing here or not. I was really excited about it, especially playing at home. I’m definitely really excited about the rest of this tournament.