Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 27

The Detroit Red Wing's Director of European Scouting Hakan Andersson reaps the rewards of his keen scouting eye. (Bill Wellman /HHOF)
Two of the most valuable personnel with the Detroit Red Wings shared the Stanley Cup early in August in Stockholm, Sweden.

If there was any justice, the Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable contribution to the playoffs would have been presented to Hakan Andersson, the Director of European Scouting for the Detroit Red Wings. Since joining the franchise in 1989, he has contributed to securing a sensational team based on European draft picks: Nicklas Lidstrom with pick number 53 in 1989, Tomas Holmstrom with the 257th selection in 1994, Pavel Datsyuk in 1998 with the 171st pick, Henrik Zetterberg with the 210th choice in the 1999 draft, Niklas Kronwall with the 29th pick in 2000, Jiri Hudler with selection number 58 and Valtteri Filppula with pick number 95 in 2002 and Johan Franzen, 2004's 97th selection. His track record is nothing short of sensational.

At 9AM on Saturday, August 2, Andersson was handed the Stanley Cup. Beaming, he took the trophy to visit a company that manufactures coffee makers, which just so happens to employ his wife. Gustav Nyquist, Detroit's fourth round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, was one of about 100 people that attended a party to celebrate the Stanley Cup victory. Hakan hopes to have caught lightning in a bottle once again, as he has high hopes for the small Swedish centre who played 2007-08 with Malmo.

Henrik Zetterberg displays his plan to keep the Stanley Cup in Sweden. (Bill Wellman /HHOF)
Andersson's day was shared with another MVP, this time, the actual Conn Smythe winner for 2008. Henrik Zetterberg had an extraordinary playoff, tying Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby in playoff points with 27 and tying teammate Johan Franzen with a playoff-best 13 goals. Zetterberg proved that, although he is a proficient scorer and an outstanding defensive forward, by combining excellence at both ends of the ice, he is not only well deserving of the playoff honour, but deserves recognition as one of the finest players in the game today.

Zetterberg collected the Stanley Cup at 4:30 that afternoon in Sundvall, due north of the Swedish capital. Henrik recently got engaged, and his fiancée, Emma, was the winner of a Swedish version of 'Survivor.' They live in a fabulous house overlooking the sea that, at one time, served as a retirement home.

In spite of the drizzle, Henrik's party guests, numbering about a hundred, gathered in large tents set up in the backyard of his home. Along with wonderful food, revellers drank and sang traditional Swedish folk songs, with Henrik joining right in on each one. The dancing and fun continued until 5:00AM.

Once again, the Stanley Cup is used as a baptismal font, this time for Zetterberg's nephew. (Bill Wellman /HHOF)
On Sunday, August 3, surviving on but a few hours sleep, Henrik prepared the Stanley Cup for what is becoming a Swedish custom. Henrik's sister Ulrica and her husband Jans have a two-and-a-half year old son, Viktor, and on this morning, Henrik's nephew was baptized using the Stanley Cup as a baptismal font. Fifteen family members and friends gathered on Henrik's deck to watch the special ceremony.

At noon, Zetterberg was at his boyhood rink in Njurunda, the guest of honour at a civic reception that brought 3,000 fans together to salute the Red Wings star. Civic dignitaries delivered speeches, and then Henrik signed autographs and posed for photos in his old, familiar rink.

Observing a touch of nostalgia, the Stanley Cup visited Zetterberg's childhood home, where at one time, hockey wasn't the only sport in his world. "I was almost as good at soccer as I was in hockey," admitted Henrik, pointing past a hedge to a sporting area where he once would have spent most of his days. There sat a tennis court and a soccer field. "They used to make a rink for the neighbourhood kids there, too," he added.

Zetterberg celebrates with over 3,000 fans at his boyhood rink in Njurunda. (Bill Wellman /HHOF)
The nostalgic sojourn ventured to nearby Timra, where Henrik played from 1997-98 to 2001-02, and again during the locked-out season (2004-05). His number 20 has been honoured by the Red Eagles, who he captained in 2001-02. Again, a thunderous ovation awaited Zetterberg when he arrived. Taking the Stanley Cup out onto the ice, 4,000 cheering fans had their ovation reign down on the 'local boy made good.' Jonathan Hedstrom, who spent 2005-06 with Anaheim, plays for the Timra Red Eagles these days, and Henrik got his prank on, putting the Stanley Cup in his pal's stall and taking a picture so that the next time Hedstrom's at the rink, he'll see what he missed.

Later that evening, Henrik and Emma returned to their home with the Stanley Cup. After having a nice dinner, they spent some time admiring hockey's greatest gift, and then tired, packed it up and packed it in.

* * *

A trip to Finland is on the itinerary next for the Stanley Cup Journal, and on Friday, we'll tell you how scout Ari Vuori and centre Valtteri Filppula celebrated with Stanley.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

All Photographs are property of the Hockey Hall of Fame or Getty Images and may not be reproduced without prior written consent. For more information regarding use of our photographs please contact us.
 
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