-- Game Day Magazine
May 19, 2004
In pro sports being the son of a former professional star is never easy especially when you are trying to accomplish the same goal as he did and make it to the highest level.
That is what Alexander Steen is doing.
A big difference for Steen from other players is that because he was born in Winnipeg when his dad played for the Winnipeg Jets his friends treated him like any other player as opposed to Tomas Steen's son, which might have happened in Sweden.
"I think it had a lot to do with my surroundings when I was growing up," he says. "All of my friends played hockey and all we talked about was hockey. We went and watched the Jets games and we were allowed to hang out in the dressing room and stuff. That was a lot of inspiration - just being in the dressing room with all the guys on the Jets team and that sort of stuff. I think it was a series of stuff that got me interested in hockey, not only that my dad played but as I said, all my friends played. It was like the main topic when we were growing up."
| Alexander Steen is seen as one of the Leafs top prospects. |
(Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI)
Steen didn't feel that his dad put any extra pressure on him to play hockey and or to be successful at it. He was able to play hockey like any normal boy in Canada would.
Although he moved back to Europe as a teenager Steen still has great memories of his time in Winnipeg.
"Mostly my friends and the teams I played on ... the summer teams, Triple A teams that went around playing tournaments during the summer I guess were my fondest memories," he says.
Since he moved back to Sweden with his family Steen never really had thoughts of being able to make the NHL until he played in a big tournament in Sweden as a 15 year-old that was broadcast on television.
He never took anything for granted and he just let things fallen in place and before he knew it he was drafted by the Maple Leafs in the first round 24th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft in front of many Leafs fans at Air Canada Centre.
"It was big for me (getting drafted)," he says. "Canada's got a huge hockey interest, especially Toronto. Toronto's the closest thing you get to Winnipeg now, (NHL) hockey wise. I thought it was great, a wonderful feeling to be drafted by such a respected organization. It was huge for me."
For the first time in franchise history the Maple Leafs held their training camp over seas in Sweden. Not only was it a good time for the team to bond on and off the ice it gave general manager John Ferguson a chance to see Steen practice with the team.
The Leafs were impressed with his performance and Steen definitely was grateful for the opportunity to practice with his future team.
"It was awesome!" he says. "I was a little nervous at the start but the guys were really great and I had a great time."
Being able to practice with the Leafs turned into a huge confidence boost for the 20 year-old for his upcoming season but also for years down the road.
| Steen had the opportunity to practice with Pat Quinn and the Leafs last September in Sweden. |
(Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI)
"It's been a big inspiration and motivation for me to practise even harder," he says. "It's where you want to be. That's where you want to come to. It was good for me, a great experience. I got a little feel for it. It was just a lot of fun."
It was quite the season. He recently completed his third season in the Swedish Elite league with Frolunda. In 48 regular season games this season he registered 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points.
"It's been good, both team wise and personally," he says. "Personally, the season started really, really well but in mid-season there was a little drought for me. I had a little rough time but I got back pretty quick."
He has represented his country on many occasions over the last few years but at last years World Junior Tournament he was the captain of Team Sweden.
"It's a big honour to even be representing your country," he adds. "It's always a big thing for me to put on the Swedish jersey and go out and play and represent the country. Of course, it's a great honour to be named captain for the national team."
Many believe Steen will make a big impact in the NHL one day. He admits to being a good two-way player just like his dad was for the Jets and that his best attribute is his vision on the ice. He won't sit down waiting for his time to come. He knows what he needs to improve to be a good player at the NHL level.
"I've got to be quicker in most things that I do out on the ice," he says. "It's everything from skating to shooting to physical strength. It's a lot of things I need to work on to climb up to another level. But I feel I'm going the right way now."
If he turns out to be as good as his dad then the Maple Leafs will have an exceptional hockey player for many years to come.
This story was previously published in Leafs Game Day Magazine