"The SHL is proud to be a part of this event and it is a positive step in the direction our league is heading. Most importantly, we are proud to give North American hockey fans a unique sports experience." - Jorgen Lindgren, CEO of the SHL
The American Hockey League's annual all-star game will have an international twist this season.
A team of AHL all-stars will face Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League on Feb. 12, 2014, as part of the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic, the league announced Tuesday. It will be the first time a team from Sweden's top professional league has played a game in North America.
The game, and the skills competition the day before, will take place at Mile One Centre, home of the St. John's IceCaps.
"I would like to thank Farjestad, the Swedish Hockey League and the St. John’s IceCaps for their commitment to making this very special opportunity a reality," AHL CEO David Andrews said in a statement. "The city and fans of St. John’s have wholly embraced the IceCaps since our league returned to Newfoundland and Labrador, and this historic and memorable event is an excellent way for us to showcase our brightest stars to what will truly be an international audience."
This is a similar format to the one Major League Soccer has used in recent years, with a team of MLS all-stars facing a top European club team. Farjestad BK has been the champion of Sweden's top division (formerly known as Elitserien) nine times since 1981, including titles in 2006, 2009 and 2011.
Farjestad players familiar to North American fans include team captain Rickard Wallin, who last played in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2009-10; and defenceman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, who played 163 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers;
Hakan Loob, who played 450 games in the NHL for the Calgary Flames, is the CEO for Farjestad BK. The club has produced many NHL draft picks, including Minnesota Wild defenceman Jonas Brodin, Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson and Edmonton Oilers prospect Oskar Klefbom in recent seasons.
"The SHL is proud to be a part of this event and it is a positive step in the direction our league is heading," Jorgen Lindgren, CEO of the SHL, said in a statement. "Most importantly, we are proud to give North American hockey fans a unique sports experience."