DETROIT - While the hockey world patiently waited for the announcement of forward Johan Franzen’s replacement on Team Sweden Monday, Gustav Nyquist conducted business as usual at The Joe, as the 24-year-old already knew he would be traveling to Sochi.
Nyquist received a call from Swedish officials Sunday night informing him of their decision to add him to the country’s 2014 Olympic roster, and the forward was more than happy to cancel his vacation plans to participate in the Winter Games.
“Obviously I’m really excited,” Nyquist said. “It’s going to be something special to represent your country in the Olympics. They don’t come around too often so it’s going to be an amazing experience.”
Nyquist became an early favorite to replace Franzen, as he scored four goals and earned seven points through the five games leading up to the veteran’s Jan. 30 announcement that he was withdrawing from the Olympics due to reoccurring concussion-like symptoms.
If the Swedish officials needed any more evidence of Nyquist’s abilities, the forward recorded four goals and one assist in a home-and-home series versus the Capitals over the next three days, including his first career hat trick and four-point performance in a 6-5 overtime loss in Washington Sunday afternoon.
A few hours later, Nyquist received official word that he would be accompanying nine of his Wings teammates, five of which he’ll skate alongside for Team Sweden, in Sochi.
“That helps it’s going to be a lot of fun with those guys that you already know very well, so you know to experience this with them is something special for sure,” Nyquist said.
Nyquist joins captain Henrik Zetterberg, defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson, goaltender Jonas Gustavsson and forward Daniel Alfredsson on Sweden’s roster, and all were eager to express their congratulations to the youngster on his addition to the team.
“They’re all happy for me, they all knew yesterday too so it was fun,” Nyquist said.
Although the 2014 Winter Olympics will be the highest level Nyquist has competed at during his professional career, the forward did play on the international level when he suited up for the IF Malmo Redhawks U-18 team in Sweden during the 2005-06 season. But he knows it’s extremely difficult to take anything away from that experience to help him prepare for the ice hockey tournament in Sochi.
“It’s tough, it’s way different hockey,” Nyquist said. “That was juniors you know and this is pro so it’s going to be different for sure. I’ve never played pro hockey on a big rink before so I’m sure it’s going to be a little different but hopefully it goes well.”
For now, Nyquist will focus on helping his team finish strong in its final three games before the Olympic break, but the thought of what awaits him in Russia gives the forward an exciting experience to look forward to in the near future.
“Just the whole experience I think is going to be a lot of fun, to meet people,” Nyquist said. “I don’t know how much time we’ll have on our hands to watch any other events or anything like that but that’s going to be something cool for sure.”
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