The Canadiens’ prize off-season acquisition says all the right things during his first encounter with Montreal media.
“It’s the one building where you don’t want to close the dressing-room door before the game; you want to feel that energy,” Cole said of the Bell Centre.
Memo to Mathieu Carle: You’re not number 72 anymore.
• Pat Hickey’s story and Pierre Obendrauf’s video
• This is fun: Which teams are most difficult to support? Canadiens rank 16th
And one of our HIO posters, TheKarl, is Swedish and was kind enough to translate an interview with Andreas Engqvist:
Engqvist played 3 NHL games during his debut year in North America. But, tucking in his beak and going home already? That is not part of the plan
“No, because in some way…. one doesn’t want to regret anything and I am under contract for one more year. Also, I got a taste of the NHL last year so I must simply return and keep fighting for a spot” says Engqvist [to the blogg].
He played 71 games with the farm team Hamilton Bulldogs and 3 with NHL Montreal. And, he found life in the farm system better than he expected.
“It’s been really good! Everything was different but I was definitively positively surprised. One hears alot about the AHL here in Sweden and it was not as bad as I thought, [Swedish saying, meaning really that it was quite good] far from as bad as some people said.
*How did yout think it was going to be then?*
“Well, you hear that its kinda OK, up and down, and I guess it sort of was… the two ‘fives’ [lines] definitely play a high quality game. What differs from Sweden is that in Sweden you generally have a few young talents in the 3rd and 4th lines whereas in the AHL the players are a little tougher, more ‘fighters’ in those lines.
*If I remember correctly you were often in the first line?*
“Yes and no, I started on the 3rd line, then they brought a guy up permanently to Montreal [I’m guessing Pac] and another was moved off the team [Avtsin??] so I guess after half the season I was more on the 1st or 2nd line. We were mostly [I guess he’s referring to his linemates Wyman and who? Russel?] on the 2nd line but sometimes on the first if they wanted to match us up against a specific ‘five’ on the other team.”
*What role have you played?*
“I feel I can play two roles and I’ve been more defensively minded this season than I was my last season with Djurgarden but I like the defensive role as well, furthermore you play the role you’re told to play. Here [Hamilton], they wanted me to be more defensive and then its up to you to play that role.”
*You got 25 points during the season and 9 points in 20 games during the playoffs, that’s not really alot is it?*
“No, it happens with the role I was given. But despite that, I should have probably scored more points.”
**Getting into the team was easier however:*
It was a chill gang with alot of players my age, good guys. There were also no other Swedes so it was easy to quickly become a part of the gang. When there aren’t any other Swedes around then you have to make more of an effort to get to know the others in order to feel like you are bigger part of the team.
**How was it playing on the smaller surface**
It is a little different but you don’t really think about it when you play, you just give as much as you can. After a while you notice a few things that are different. The biggest difference is the amount of games, sometimes you play 4 games in 5 days and that is something you’re not used to.
**What was the hardest thing about that?**
You feel it after a while, especially at the end. I think we had 10 games the last 16 days and then the playoffs started. You’re body felt it for sure
**So you toughened up I guess?**
No, haha but you get used to it. You watch how others prepare and what routines they have.
– However, some Swedish is never wrong. Especially not during Christmas. Andreas’ girlfriend was there the entire season and around christmas his close family visited.
“Vi stopped at IKEA and bought some julmust [Swedish Christmas soda…] other Swedish treats….”
-In total Andreas played 3 NHL games, 2 in January and one in Marh. His debut came January 21 against Ottawa and the next day his first home game at the Bell Centre. –
“the first game was awesome and we won 7-1 so it wasn’t exactly a boring game to play in haha. To play the next day at the Bell Centre was incredible. It was powerful, I think the arena takes 23,000 people and its like been sold out the last 7 years. This is no surprise thought since Montreal is Hockey’s Mecca.
First game of course. Partly because it was the first and partly because we won so big. And then of course taking the ice at the Bell Centre. Your hairs stand up when you step out but when the puck later drops you focus on the game.
**Opinions on playing mostly in the AHL??**
Well, one knows that for some it takes time to get into the NHL. There aren’t that many from Sweden that come straight over and play. Some do this and some do it get in the ‘other way’. Some might say that I only played three games but I’m sure many could consider just that an incredible bonus just to play at all. You can’t really know how close you are until they call you up. That at least means you’re doing something right.
**What were you’re expectations about the NHL before you left?88
“I didn’t really know what to expect since they have many Centers in Montreal. There are also many good players fighting to make the team so you never know. Some left this summer and some new may arrive. I have one more year on my contract so I will return and do whatever I can to make the team.”
In Djurgarden, Andreas sometimes sang [Djurgarden winning song] in the shower when they won. “I’ve tried to keep up to date with my old team but its almost impossible. Mostly I try to catch the highlights. Also, Kyle [Klubbertranz who also played with DIF in 09-10] kept asking me how they were doing so I guess we kept reasonably up to date.”
**Did you know that Kyle is going back to DIF?**
No, we talked a bit but I didn’t know it was official until DIF announced it. But he likes Djurgarden and really enjoyed playing there so if he decided to return to Sweden it would only be DIF, Stockholm, the team and the fans.
**You then? what are you’re plans if you don’t make the team next year?**
I will finish my contract and then we’ll see. But if I return to Sweden then there is only 1 team I will play for. But I am ready to fight both in Montreal and Hamilton to make the Canadiens. That is the mindset you have to have. Then you just have to take it year by year and see what happens.
**What do you need to improve to grab a spot?**
EVERYTHING, I have to get better at everything
**When you were up in the NHL, how far away did you feel from that spot?**
It was more about how close I felt. You start to feel things working and every step brings you closer. It felt the same way the first time I played a game in the Elite League [Sweden] and the national squad. You just feel like you can.