On June 25, 2013, Nashville Predators forward Viktor Stalberg experienced hockey’s greatest moment as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. He won the Stanley Cup.
Then just six days after a celebratory parade down Michigan Avenue, Stalberg signed on the dotted line on July 5 in order to change clubs, cities and teammates. Quite the two-week stretch for the 25-year-old winger.
This summer, Stalberg was okay with a little more “routine” offseason.
“It feels great. Coming back and already knowing most of the guys really helps, there’s not as much new this summer,” Stalberg said. “It’s nice to come in and settle down a little quicker this time.”
After completing his first campaign with the Predators last season, the Swedish forward returned home to his native country to rest and recoup; something he was hard-pressed to do during a busy summer last year.
“I went home to Gothenburg for the most part. Just got a boat in the ocean whenever I could, I live pretty close to it,” said Stalberg. “Just lots of fishing, hanging out and going to visit some islands around there. I only took one trip the whole summer; I went down to Italy. My girlfriend, me and five other couples went and rented a house. It had a pool and tennis court and stuff, so it was a good trip to the Amalfi coast. Really enjoyed the food down there.”
When not out on the water, Stalberg said his next-favorite past time is hitting the links. But as both defenseman Mattias Ekholm and Stalberg explained, a surprising heat wave in Sweden threw a bit of a wrench into the Predators’ plans.
“Golf is one of the main things I do a lot of during the summer,” Stalberg said. “But to be honest, this summer was almost too hot for golfing. It doesn’t usually get that nice in Sweden, but this summer it did. So it wasn’t actually as much golf as I’m used to. That’s just one of those things that right after the season you try and get out there and recover your game a little bit.”
Scorching heat and tee times aside, the extended time in Sweden this offseason set up the Preds forward for a consistent and effective workout regime, something the previous summer didn’t really bestow.
“Last summer was pretty different with the Cup run and everything, but this one gave me some more time to prepare physically like I would like,” Stalberg explained. “I usually take about a two-week break off to relax, and then right after that I’m back up to working out five to six times per week. It’s been a longer summer working out, but I feel pretty good on the ice. Sometimes you need a longer summer to prepare. I guess that’s the one good thing about not going to the playoffs once in a while.”
A more-focused offseason of preparing for the NHL season, along with the familiarity of his Nashville teammates and a new head coach, all point to a blazing 2014-15 season on the scoresheet for Stalberg. And with on-ice sessions starting at training camp today, there isn’t much longer to wait and find out.
“I know Laviolette is a little more of an offensive, go-forward coach and hopefully that will suit me a little better,” Stalberg said. “Last year, was a tough one for me. It happens sometimes, and it’s a good sign for me that a new coach is here. There’s a new philosophy, so I’m excited about this year.”