By Adam Brady
Lagom is a word unique to the Swedish language that doesn’t translate into one single word in English but means “not too little, not too much, but just right.” It’s a pretty appropriate description for Jakob Silfverberg’s game, notably the one he displayed near the end of last season and especially throughout the Ducks playoffs.
The 24-year-old Swedish winger was a force at both ends of the rink while playing on Anaheim’s second forward line and developing an unmistakable chemistry with veteran center Ryan Kesler. In 16 postseason games, Silfverberg scored four goals and his 14 assists were third among all NHLers in the playoffs — including five assists in Anaheim’s final four postseason games. He did all that while frequently locking down the opposition’s best wingers in the Anaheim end with defensive skills that have long been his strength.
His shine in that postseason was the kind of play Silfverberg attributes to another Swedish word — förtroende — which means, simply, “self-confidence.”
|“It’s tough to put words into it, but once you’re in that zone, stuff just happens for you. You don’t really think about what will happen if you make a bad play, you don’t try and overthink it. In the playoffs last year, I felt like I was in that place and I felt like I could compete with the really great players.” |
“I got the chance to play with Kes on the second line and got lots of ice time from Bruce,” said Silfverberg on the eve of his third training camp with the Ducks. “All of a sudden, the confidence started rising, and I started to play the way I wanted to play, the way I used to play back home in Sweden. Hopefully I’ll keep playing with that same mindset and keep going.”
Confidence is a word uttered countless times by athletes and performers in every endeavor, but Silfverberg reaffirms that you can’t possibly put a value on it.
“It’s tough to put words into it, but once you’re in that zone, stuff just happens for you,” he says. “You don’t really think about what will happen if you make a bad play, you don’t try and overthink it. If you’re not in that zone, you break down every play you make, and you kind of get too deep in it. In the playoffs last year, I felt like I was in that place and I felt like I could compete with the really great players.”
It hardly bears repeating that those playoffs ended with a thud for Silfverberg and his Ducks teammates, and he said he took some time after it was over to reflect and ultimately find the silfver — or rather, silver — lining.
“It’s tough, being so close to the Stanley Cup Final and getting knocked out. It sucks,” he says bluntly. “For a couple of days after the playoffs, you get kind of pissed at yourself, and you start thinking about why it didn’t work out this time again. On the other hand, it’s just another motivation. You know you’ve got to work hard, and it starts in the summer.”
Silfverberg and his fiancee Clara spent a majority of that summer back in Sweden, during which Jakob became a restricted free agent on July 1. There was little doubt the Ducks would bring him back, and on August 7 he and the Anaheim brass agreed on a lucrative four-year contract.
“I’m really excited about it. I’m really happy about the deal, and I think the Anaheim Ducks are happy too,” he says. “It’s a really big deal for me, and getting four years is a bit of a comfort. Now I can just focus on hockey and play as well as I can out there.”
|“I feel faster, I feel stronger, so I’m super excited about being in camp and working maybe even a little bit harder and getting ready for the season opener." |
There is another untranslatable word in the Swedish language, vaska, which literally means (believe it or not) "to buy two bottles of champagne at a bar, and then to have one poured down the sink to show how wealthy you are.” That is certainly not the understated Silfverberg’s style, but he did allow himself at least one luxury after signing the new deal. Earlier this month, he bought himself a Mercedes CLS63 AMG. “So yeah,” he smiles, “I bought myself something nice.”
There is another Swedish word, sambo, which roughly translates to “someone you’re in a long-term relationship but don’t live with.” Jakob and Clara have been engaged two years, and while he says they may get married “within the next year or so,” they haven’t set a date yet.
“It’s different in Sweden,” he points out. “It’s nothing weird with being engaged and not being married. My parents were engaged for about 27 years, not that I want to go that long. It’s just the way it is, but I definitely want to get married pretty soon.”
The wait is understandable, since these days Silfverberg’s focus is primarily on hockey and not resting on the laurels of his breakout season. “This might be my hardest summer so far, and I feel really strong out there,” he says. “I feel faster, I feel stronger, so I’m super excited about being in camp and working maybe even a little bit harder and getting ready for the season opener.
“I think I’m really prepared, and it’s going to be an exciting year.”