Hagelin Pursues Cup with Rangers
With the success of players like Gustav Nyquist and Carl Hagelin in the NHL, there’s a greater appreciation than ever before of the college hockey path in Sweden. Hagelin, a Michigan graduate who opens play in the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night with the New York Rangers, would love to see that continue to grow.
“Obviously I would love to see more players come over and play college hockey,” he said after a practice earlier this season. “But it’s not easy. You have to be able to handle hockey and school at the same time. Plus, back home there’s not enough knowledge about U.S. college hockey and what it offers.”
The impact of players like Hagelin – and his loyalty to Michigan – certainly has to help NCAA hockey’s profile in Sweden. The Sodertalje, Sweden, native has 10 points in 20 games during these playoffs but his impact has gone beyond the scoresheet. His speed has helped the Rangers dictate the pace and his play has been highlighted by national media like ESPN.com’s Craig Custance (ESPN insider account required).
Similarly, former Maine star Nyquist turned heads with the Detroit Red Wings this season. His three seasons as a Black Bear coincided with Hagelin’s last three years as a Wolverine, and this year they were two of the six Swedes who played college hockey to appear in the NHL (Christian Folin, Erik Gustafsson, Douglas Murray and Viktor Stalberg were the others). Eleven Swedes played Division I hockey this season, including Folin, who signed with the Minnesota Wild following his season at UMass Lowell.
By now it’s a well known story that Hagelin’s father, who knew about the NCAA system from attending Western Michigan, sent Carl to Michigan’s hockey camp, where he was first noticed by head coach Red Berenson. Others had more circuitous routes, but all benefitted from their time on campus.
“Michigan gave me all the tools to compete at this level on and off the ice,” said Hagelin. “The coaches helped me learn how to use my speed at Michigan. That’s what I try to do here, get on pucks quickly and make plays when I can.”
For Hagelin, improvement on the ice was only one thing he took from his Michigan experience. A finance major who interned with a private equity firm in Ann Arbor, he took full advantage of the college experience.
“A lot of it is being around great professors and great coaches, and being around kids who want to be successful in life,” he said. “That mindset of always getting better, whatever you are doing, really had an impact on me.”
It doesn’t get much better in hockey than where Hagelin finds himself now, entering the Stanley Cup Final. It’s been a storybook run from Sweden to Ann Arbor to New York, with the potential to add another great chapter.