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International House of Hockey

IhopMaking lots of new friends from across the sea, special thanks to Swedish correspondents Tomas, Andreas, Johan and Thomas. Big hockey fans in Sweden, and they are very excited about their team signing a future Hall of Famer. Good for them.

Here is the translation of the Leksand team site from Tomas. Again, much love for taking the time to do this.Swedishflag

One of the greatest goalies in the history of hockey comes to Leksand!

He has won Stanley Cup.
He has won Olympic gold.
He has been named the best goalie in NHL.
He is a living sports legend.

Last season he played 58 games for Florida Panthers in NHL.

This autumn he will play for Leksands IF.

This season the Swedish hockey audience will get the opportunity to get to know one of sports greatest profiles of all time.

Eddie The Eagle has signed a contract with Leksand:”I see it as a big honor to play for such a classic club as Leksand,’’ said Belfour when we had a chance to talk to him.

There is probably a few American and Canadian hockey fans on the other side of the Atlantic that pinch their arm and wonder what will he do in the little village of "Switzerland" (a joke, a lot of Americans mix up Sweden and Switzerland). Ed has the answer: “It´s the possibilities, the adventure and the challenge,’’ he explains.

Friends have compared Leksand with Toronto. Classic organizations, long history, full of tradition and a lot of fans.

Leksands And that was the things that made him decide to take the step from NHL and go to a club on a totally different side of the hockey world, explains the well-qualified goalie.

He had a lot of offers to choose from. Russian clubs have tried to get his signature on a contract and there has been offers from NHL-clubs. But when he decided to play for Leksand it felt like he made the right decision, he explains.

“It´s the kind of atmosphere you find in Leksand, with great fans that love their team in both the good and the bad times, that I like the most.’’

Through the years Ed Belfour has played with many of the most well known players in the history of the game.
Jeremy Roenick, Mike Modano, Joe Nieuwendyk, Eric Lindros, Chris Chelios, Olli Jokinen, Mats Sundin. Now he can add a few local heroes such as Houkko, Karlberg and Ollas to that list.

With Canadian blood in his veins, “it´s obvious that I like outdoor activities.’’ Fishing, skiing, hunting and driving snowmobiles is things he´s looking forward to doing between games. That he will move to a small village Ed just see as a good thing.Sweden4

”It´s my kind of living. The atmosphere gets more personal, you get closer to each other and traditions gets bigger importance.’’

Then he probably will have a few things he´ll have to do in the beginning of next year.

He will become a father for the second time of his life in December. Changing diapers will probably be added to his to do list.

But the goal for next season is clear to him. Bring back Leksand to the first division again.

Leksands GM Mikael Lundström can after a long negotiation finally introduce his latest and probably most important part of his team so far.

”This is of course one of our biggest investments for a step in the right direction towards our goal to get back to the Swedish Elite League again,’’ he says.

There´s no doubt that the expectations are high on Belfour.

Leksand2_2 ”We have signed a goalie that will bring stability to our defensive game and it´s a great feeling to be able to present this kind of signing to all our great fans and sponsors,’’ says Lundström.

Ed Belfour is clear to play from the 12th of October and will join the team at that date.

-- This from Johan: By the way, the swedish second tier league has some impressive names... Robert Petrovicky, Libor Procházka, Jani Hurme, Ed Belfour, Marcus Ragnarsson, Kenny Jönsson, Juha Lind, Calle Söderberg, Tomi Pettinen, Mikko Eloranta, Roman Vopat, Mikael Karlberg and Jan Huokko. The last two is more stars in Sweden, but still... All really great players. Most of them in Leksands IF or Malmö.

-- This from Tomas: I´m from a town called Falun a few miles from Leksand so Leksand is my favourite team. I´m also a big fan of NHL and I have been a Calgary Flames fan for many years. Now I live in Stockholm. 2004 I lived in Duluth, Minnesota for 6 month and I like visiting USA.

-- My take: One thing I didn't know was the Ed was expecting another child. So, congrats to him on that. And it sounds like he's making the best of this. There's no work out there in the NHL, so why not go to a place where he's really, really wanted and have fun. I'm sure this will be a neat experience for him, and he's going to be a rock star over there, for sure.