Much of this week’s focus will be on Sharks defensemen Niclas Wallin and Douglas Murray
as the native Swedes take center stage in their home country. There are other Sharks though who have played professionally Sweden, right in Stockholm as a matter of fact, and they are looking forward to their return visit.
skated with Djurgardens of the Swedish Elite League during the NHL lockout and posted nine goals and nine assists in 32 games. Jamal Mayers played in the lower division with Hammarby IF at the same time and registered 22 points (9 goals, 13 assists) in 19 games.
Both are glad to have experienced Sweden as more than just a brief guest.
“It is a very cosmopolitan city and surprisingly everybody spoke English,” said Mayers. “It was easy communicating and it was a good experience.”
“I loved it,” said Boyle. “It is an amazing city. The crowd was great and took me in really well.”
Each found different things to appreciate while living overseas.
“I think it had more of a European flair than I anticipated,” said Mayers, who is enjoys the fashion scene. “It’s on the cutting edge of fashion, you definitely notice that. They had the skinny jeans in 2004 and (skinny jeans) got to American in 2009.”
The character of the games in Sweden was more like what Sharks fans saw online from Mannheim and that was entertaining for Boyle.
“Hockey wise, it is a different type of atmosphere with the crowd,” said Boyle. “It was more like a soccer atmosphere like we saw the other night in Germany.”
Boyle had a smaller version of the NHL’s New Year’s Day outdoor contest while in Sweden.
“We had an off the ice retreat seven or eight hours up north, I couldn’t tell you where,” said Boyle. “We played an outdoor hockey game against a local team.”
Mayers used the time in Sweden to regain some confidence in an injured knee and in his overall game.
“I was just trying to make the best of a bad situation,” said Mayers of the lockout. “I had blown my knee out in 2002 and missed most of the year. I came back and still didn’t quite feel right, so taking a year off wasn’t really an option for me. I needed a chance to play and playing in different situations was really fun. To do it in a city like Stockholm made it pretty cool.”
Both Boyle and Mayers may have a chance to catch up with some old faces while in the city made up of individual islands.
“There are probably still at least seven or eight guys that are still on that team that I played with,” said Boyle. “Management wise, there are probably a handful of them too.”
“I don’t have any of their numbers any more, that was six years ago,” said Mayers. “I’m not sure if the team even exists anymore. I think they just came back this year. I still talk to the team services guy and will hopefully get a chance to see him. We keep in touch.”
There was one minor downside to Stockholm during the hockey season.
“The weather was a little tough because it was smack in winter,” said Boyle. “It gets dark pretty early, so that was a big change. Other than that, it was a positive experience.”
All the other changes were fairly smooth for both Sharks players and they each could recommend Sweden to others considering playing there.
“Stockholm is such a big city, there are plenty of good restaurants and it was an easy adjustment,” said Boyle.
Now they just need to the two NHL regular season games to go as well as their regular seasons in Sweden.
The Sharks are ramping up for their regular season, but they are also following the success of the San Francisco Giants as they head to the playoffs and were paying attention to the clinching game very late from Germany.
Dany Heatley is recognized to the fans as the biggest Giants supporter, mostly because of his throwing out of a first pitch last year and the subsequent commercial made of the effort. There are quite a few followers on the team.
“I just followed on the internet,” said Dany Heatley of the series clinching game. “They played well all season. It was fun. I got to watch them a little bit at the start of the year and towards the end of the year. It’s been a fun two weeks down the stretch. Hopefully I’ll get to a few games when we get back.