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I feel like this should almost be in the Canucks section because I have a hard time thinking of him as anything but one of us.

With all the stupid business of hockey crap going on, it is nice for someone to remember why we love these guys.

A Tribute to Mattias Ohlund

January 5, 2013, 12:56 AM ET [5 Comments]

Michael Stuart

tb.gif Tampa Bay Lightning Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT

As discussed last week, the Tampa Bay Lightning is going to have a lot to think about should an amnesty buyout clause be included in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the Players’ Association. In recent days, a few media outlets have thrown out the idea of potentially buying out Mattias Ohlund. This has been discussed on the message boards here among Lightning fans and around other circles in Bolts Nation. The purpose of this blog isn’t to debate whether or not buying out Ohlund is the right or wrong thing to do; the purpose is to bring attention to a career that has brought short by injury and a career that did not get nearly the press it deserved.

There's not really anything of substance here, but I firmly believe that it's important to give Mattias the credit and praise that he deserves for everything he did in both Vancouver and Tampa. I'm not trying to start up a debate or fire anyone up; this is simply a big thank you to one of my favorite defenseman in the modern era.

Drafted in 1994 by the Vancouver Canucks, Ohlund was a first rounder with a lot of promise. His simple, physical, smart style made him a staple of the Canuck blue line for years. In Vancouver he was a fan favorite, a community minded individual and a guy who always put the team above himself. He was a leader in the room and a leader when dealing with the media.

Ohlund was never a flashy offensive player; on the contrary, he was economical in the way he used his body to win puck battles, start a breakout and put up decent offensive totals. His ability to find open guys, stemming from his great hockey vision, is grossly underrated. Simply put, he was a smart player who made the right move far more than he made the wrong one.

After helping to develop Alex Edler during his later years with the Canucks, Ohlund attracted the attention of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Fresh off a disappointing playoff defeat at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, the Vancouver Canucks decided to move in another direction with the defense and Ohlund became a free agent. It didn’t take long for the Lightning to swoop in and offer him a very rich contract that would have him finish his career in Florida.

The thought, at the time, was that Ohlund could help mentor Victor Hedman in the same way that he had mentored Alex Edler in Vancouver. In his first year with the Lightning, Ohlund disappointed some with his paltry offensive totals. However, those who really watched the Bolts play during the 2009-10 season know that Ohlund was an effective and integral part of the team’s leadership core and defense. He played big minutes, mentored younger players and was a calming leadership influence both on and off the ice. While the offensive numbers may not have been there, Ohlund did bring a lot to the Lightning.

Of course, injuries changed circumstances and now fans of the Lightning are left to wonder if, not when, Ohlund will ever suit up for another National Hockey League game. I think I can speak on behalf of all Lightning fans and Canuck fans – Ohlund didn’t deserve to go out like this. He was a gentleman throughout his career, playing physically but fairly. He would stick up for teammates and he had a brutally underrated mean streak.

It’s sad to see a player who was so effective for so long lose out on the final years of his career. The Lightning sure could have used him last season. He might not be as fast as he once was or as physically intimidating, but he was still damn effective during his short stint with the Bolts.

So, whether or not the Lightning chooses to buyout Mattias Ohlund does not really matter. To be honest, at this point, it probably makes the most sense to do so. However, the purpose of this piece is to help fans remember just what kind of player, person and teammate Mattias Ohlund was in both Vancouver and Tampa.

On behalf of Bolts Nation – if we don’t get to see you suit up again, all the best, Mattias. You deserve nothing but.

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He is the kind of guy you want to bring into the organization. He will almost certainly never play another game in the NHL with his knees the way they are. If he is returning to Sweden he would make an awesome scout/player developmental guy for our European players. If he wants to return to Vancouver he would be great at that here.

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