So, the first pre-season game is tonight, but I dunno if we even get to see it. And frankly, as nice as it is to see the guys on ice again and stuff.. well frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. Now, that's a lie. I just wanted to say that, but honestly, all this pre-season stuff doesn't interest me way too much. So no preview for this one. Instead I thought I would introduce you to the Norwegian Elite League and its teams, seeing as it started this Sunday. Now, I don't follow the league way too closely, but I follow it closely enough to give you guys the general idea.
First of all: This is a bush league. It has second rate Norwegians for the most part, together with third and fourth rate Swedes, Czechs and Americans.
Second of all, the format: The league consists of ten teams (though last year, one team had to drop out after a month due to bankruptcy.. yes.. seriously). Each team faces the other teams five times each, for a total of 45 games. The top 8 teams make the playoffs. The number one seed gets to pick which one of the four lower seed they get in the quarterfinals. Then number two picks and so on and so on. This is total bullshit, and last year it lead to my team (the 7th seed) having to take on the first seed, because the first seed wanted to avoid travel. So we got a harder opponent than we had deserved by our play during the regular season. Total bullshit. The quarters are best of seven. Then it's on to the semis, with the same picking system. The semis and the finals are best of seven. The two last teams enter relegation play with the top two teams from division one. This is a round-robbin thingy where the two best teams play in the Elite league the next yeat and the two others go to division one.
Now.. onto the teams:
Frisk Tigers (the club is really named Frisk/Asker though)
The club was founded in 1922. They became Norwegian Champions in 75, 79 and 02. They won the league in 73/74, 75/76, 76/77, 77/78 and 07/08.
The team finished 9th (dead last), but survived the relegation tournament.
Askerhallen, has an official capacity of 1342 seated places plus 1058 standing places, but they've had as many as 3200 people in there. It's an old and kinda run down arena with cramped locker rooms. It's never a fun place to play, but when it's full and the crowd is rocking, it's loud, it's rowdy and the whole building shakes. Not a fun place to play an away game.
Asker is a suburb west of Oslo, a 20 minute drive from the city limits.
This map shows its location in Norway (marked with a black dot):
And here is its location in greater Oslo (green dot):
Frisk is probably the team with the two most famous players in the Norwegian Elite League. The biggest name for Norwegians, and maybe also for Wings fans is ex-Red Wing, Avs, Isles, Bruin and cocaine fuckup, defenseman Anders Myrvold. Myrvold was aquired from Stjernen before the season and they expect him to play a key role as maybe the teams top defenseman. If he is on form, he is a smart, experienced and physical defenseman, but seeing as he is yet again having off ice trouble with the law, it's hard to say how well it will go.
The biggest name internationally, is Rene Corbet, who has 362 NHL games for 4 different clubs. You might remember him as the guy both scored and fought in the Fight Night. He was aquired from Germany in the middle of last season and helped a team that almost exlusively lost, get more competetive. He might be old and not what he once was, but in this league he is still an effective player.
Another name worth noticing is the 22 year old captain Henrik Ødegaard. They this skilled defenseman captain before last season and see him as their leader for the future. He's a good player and a nice guy who gave us opposing forwards a lot of grief when we were younger.
It is also worth noting that even though forward Fredrik Rålm is a year younger than me, we were teammates for a lot of years.
After a very successful 07/08 season, they lost their top three scorers, the Canadian Abbott brothers and Mats Zuccarello Aasen to the Swedish league. That lead to two weak seasons and though they have now beefed up a bit with Corbet and Myrvold, they are still a team full of young no-name players who need more experience. They will fight hard for a playoff spot, but due to my own homerific tendencies I think they will finish 9th.
The club was founded in 1957. Their only Norwegian championship came in 1994.
Lillehammer finished 5th in the league and lost 2-4 in the first round to Stavanger.
Kristins Hall, built in 1988, takes 3 194 people. It's a pretty nice arena, nothing flashy, but nice and comfortable, both for the fans and the players. It also has a curling rink. Ironically enough, Norway's maybe nicest arena, Håkons Hall, is it's next door neighboor, but it is too expensive to use.
And just for shits and giggles, it's neighboor, Håkons Hall (capacity 11 500):
Lillehammer, known for having hosted the 1994 Olympics, is located about 3 hours North of Oslo, by Norway's biggest lake, Mjøsa. Very pretty city actually.
Location in Norway:
The team has lost a lot of key players and is mostly filled with no names, but American Gino Guyer (FW) and Canadians Evan Chevrie (FW) and Scot Hotham (D) have some AHL experience on their resumes. Canadian goalie Jonathan Boutin has played for an impressive amount of AHL clubs, despite only being 25 years old. Defenseman Justin Bostrom has experience from the University of Minnesota and was one of the top scorers for my team, Manglerud Star, last year.
This team always has a core of good young players, due to their junior team being linked to one of Norway's too Ice Hockey high schools (the other is Frisk's). They have lost some good players, but also loaded up with a few new foreign players, but I fear that their team will be mediocre yet again this year, with too little experience to match up against the best. A 6th place and first round exit is my guess.
The club was founded in 1913. They have never won the league, but won the Norwegian Championship in 77 and 78. The jersey's are actually due to mistakenly recieving jerseys meant for the Minnesota North Stars as training jerseys back in the 70s and since then the design has been more or less inspired by that franchise. Yes, they are ugly, but I donned that jersey myself for 10 years, so I love it.
Manglerud Star (often called M/S), finished 7th, but lost 1-4 to Vålerenga in the first round.
Manglerudhallen was built in 1979. When I played there it took less than 1000 people and was a shithole. The dressing rooms in the arena had no showers and were only for use during intermissions. You had to walk 50 meters outside to get to the clubhouse, which had a few, small, shitty dressing rooms. It was cold, old and bad. In 2004 it finally got rebuilt and now it's a pretty nice, comfortable and modern arena with a capacity of 2000 people. Of course I retired right when the building was about to be finished, so I never got to play in the new arena.
Found no images of the arena.
Manglerud is a suburb in Eastern Oslo (see the Norway map under Frisk Asker to find Oslo).
Location in Oslo (blue dot):
This is an incredibly young team with no real big names. Captain Peter Andersen is a huge forward who is slow, but has good hands and who scores a lot. Otherwise, a fair bit of talent, but no real profiles. Forward Jonas Moen was my classmate for 3 years.
The team always excels in the younger age classes. My team won the league every year and we got a Norwegian championship and a silver in our age group. But due to bad economy, leadership and results, the best players have always ended up in other clubs. This year they ice the league's youngest team, with an average age of 22. They have no experience, but a lot of talent and I hope for an 8th place finish and first round exit.
The next part will come soon
3 years ago