February 26, 2006 Johan Hedberg, a member of the 1998 and 2002 Swedish Olympic hockey teams, is the only native Swede on the current Dallas Stars roster. DallasStars.com had a chance to visit with the ecstatic Hedberg today after his countrymen defeated Team Finland in the gold medal hockey game at the Winter Olympics in Torino.
DallasStars.com: What kind of watching party did you have for the gold medal game today?
Hedberg: "We had a nice little get-together at my house. I invited Janne (Niinimaa) and Antti (Miettinen) over to watch the game. I thought the game started at 7:30, but it really 7, so we missed the first few minutes. My kids decorated the house with blue and yellow balloons and they painted their faces in Swedish colors, so it was pretty neat. The good thing is that my boys came out on top!"
DallasStars.com: What does this mean for Swedish hockey to win the gold? Hedberg: "It's certainly a huge accomplishment for the nation. There has been quite a bit of disappointment with the national team in the last few major tournaments and there was a lot of talk about this being the last chance for guys like Mats Sundin, Niklas Lidstrom and Peter Forsberg. The Swedish teams in the World Juniors haven't fared well recently so hopefully this will be a shot in the arm for Swedish hockey. I think it's definitely a huge achievement."
DallasStars.com: The 2002 Olympics didn't go as planned for Sweden. Does this gold medal offer some redemption to the hockey-mad nation?
Hedberg: "This is a big-time redemption. The Swedish media is really polarized and they ripped Swedish hockey big-time after the last Olympics. Some of the comments were unbelievable, and even at the start of this tournament, they criticized the team for not being ready to play. I think they really came through in a strong way."
DallasStars.com: What kind of celebration will there be in towns throughout Sweden tonight?
Hedberg: "I think there will be a huge celebration in the biggest town square in Stockholm tonight when the team gets home. It wouldn't surprise me if there are hundreds of thousands of people celebrating with the team. All over the nation, I'm sure there will be big parties as well. It'll be a very, very fun night back home."
DallasStars.com: Did you rub it in to any of your Finnish teammates after the win?
Hedberg: "I didn't really let Antti or Janne have it that badly. While I'm thrilled about the Swedes winning, I wanted to see my Stars teammates do well and have a great tournament. In a way, I was cheering for them, but I know all the guys on the Swedish team and I'm really happy for them. I hope they enjoy it. I know I am right now."