On July 1, 2017, Christian Folin, a free agent from the Minnesota Wild, inked a one-year contract with the LA Kings.
Video: BOS@LAK: Folin lays out Heinen with crushing check
What most people don't know is how close the Swede was to becoming a professional soccer player instead of a hockey player. Folin's father was very into soccer. It was a neighboring family who first brought Christian to an ice rink at the age of three.
But, Christian started a trend. Not only did his family become hockey fans, but both of his younger brothers followed in his hockey skate strides. Now, his middle brother Niklas plays for the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Christian's alma mater.
Soccer did play a large role in Folin's life. During the winter, he would play hockey and during the summer he would indulge in soccer. At the age of 15, he was forced to choose between the two sports. He chose hockey.
"My dad told me with a straight face that I should have chosen soccer because I would have been a better player in soccer," said the 26-year-old.
A number of regional hockey teams began calling him, making Folin believe he made the right choice. He went to play for the Frolunda Hockey Club, a big name in Gothenberg, Sweden.
Despite opting to develop his hockey career, Folin still loves soccer and prefers to watch soccer over hockey. His favorite team to follow is Arsenal F.C. His all-time favorite players include Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry and David Beckham.
Folin is very active in the Kings' pre-game soccer warmup, and he says that aside from himself, the best soccer player on the team is Anze Kopitar.
"He's really good. You can tell he has a good touch," said the defenseman of his captain's soccer prowess.
Having lived in the United States for almost eight years, Folin is well-immersed in American culture. He is a huge fan of Taylor Swift, particularly her 'Speak Now' album, which was released in 2010, his first year in the states. His favorite Swift tune is 'Back to December,' off that album. Folin saw Swift in concert in Minneapolis, and tweeted at her afterwards. She favorited the tweet, which he says "was pretty cool."
House music and Melbourne bounce can also be found in Folin's collection of music, and the History Channel's 'Vikings' is Folin's latest television show of choice.
"It's based on Vikings, so it's kind of cool, having my background in Sweden. They use a lot of Swedish places. I think they created a language that's kind of similar to Swedish, so sometimes I understand," said Folin.
One of the best TV shows of all time, according to Folin, is 'Friends.' Folin says the show actually helped him learn English. His favorite character is Chandler Bing.
On Kings charters, Folin passes his time listening to podcasts. He loves unsolved-crime podcasts in particular, and says he's considering a career in law enforcement when his playing days are done.
"I think it'd be kind of interesting, always something going on, different things. I think it'd be a really cool experience, and there's a shortage of cops in Sweden, so I think it'd be fun to do if I'm not in hockey," said Folin.
He does think he'll return to Sweden when his NHL days are behind him, just as he does during the summer. Even though Folin has a home to retreat to during the off-season, his entire family is in America. His dad, who works for Volvo, is currently based in the Maryland office. Folin's mom and brother are here with Folin's dad as well.
For now, Folin is rooming with teammate Darcy Kuemper, who is in his first year as a goaltender for the Kings. The two go back to their days playing with the Wild organization. They both enjoy cooking.
"I'm pretty simple. I like to do chicken, sweet potato and a big salad," said Folin. "[Kuemper] likes more fancy stuff. He tries to go off recipes. I'm more of a simple guy, but I think I'm more efficient. There's one time it took him like three hours to make a meal. It was delicious, but it took him forever. I'm like 'can I eat my salad now? I'm really hungry!' I had to wait for him forever."
Even though he's in Los Angeles living out his professional sports dream, Folin knows that it took a lot for him to get to where he is. Playing hockey has taught him that facing adversity is a necessary part of life.
Video: LAK@CHI: Folin fires wrist shot through screen
"You're going to have some tough bounces sometimes, but you just have to dig your head down and keep working until you get out of it eventually, and it's going to feel so much better on the other side," said Folin.
Hockey also showed him how to take on responsibility at a young age.
"You face a lot of things you don't think you're going to have to face when you're 18 or 19 years old, living away from home in a different country," said Folin. "You get forced into it and you grow up faster too. I think I've matured a lot over the last few years, just getting to be a better professional. I'm taking care of my stuff better, and being more responsible with all the bills."
The biggest challenge during Folin's young career happened to be an entire week. He had a college scholarship cancelled because the school had no plans for him the following season. He was traded by his current team and sent down to a lower league. He ended the week being picked up at a bus station by his new team, and he played the next night.
Shortly after that week, Folin went home for Christmas. He saw that all his friends were working nine-to-five jobs, and he had a poignant conversation with his mother.
"She told me 'you do what you love. Go back and just enjoy it. If it doesn't work out, you're only 24 hours away, you can fly home right away.' I went back and I really enjoyed it and my career kind of took off. Now, I'm sitting here a couple years later," said Folin.
Looks like hockey was a good decision after all.