According to various sources, including Sports Illustrated, Tobias Enstrom will not be taking part in the 2014 Winter Olympics as a part of Team Sweden. The outstanding puck-moving defender would be a shoo-in for the squad and would likely see some major minutes, but he’s apparently said thanks, but no thanks.
Sweden’s coach Petr Marts spoke to the Swedish paper Aftonbladet and said that Enstrom called him earlier in the week to break the news. According to Aftonbladet’s report, the defenseman said that he wanted to focus on the Jets this season.
So, by our count, Enstrom has told a potential Medal contender to cram it while claiming that he wants to focus on getting a 5-7-2 Winnipeg team over the hump and into the playoffs. Interesting. Very interesting.
Many players—including the outspoken Alex Ovechkin—stood strongly by the Olympics when the NHL wanted to ax their participation during negotiations of the most recent CBA. It’s mildly normal to see a player pass on other tournaments that take place after the season with rest and relaxation in mind.
Enstrom isn’t passing on the World Championships though. He’s passing on the chance to represent his country in the greatest hockey tournament in the world. To stay in Winnipeg and focus on the second half of the season.
It’s easy to see both sides of the story here. There’s something to be said about loyalty to the Jets, sure. But at the cost of appearing disloyal to your home country? This is odd. Very odd to say the least. While Enstrom hasn’t made public comments about his choice, we have to assume that this is in the name of health and rest.
It’s tough not to see a bit of softness in that, despite how excited the Jets must be that one of their key players won’t be risking injury in Sochi. At 28-years-old, it isn’t like Enstrom’s body is breaking down on him right now. If Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne can lace up the skates for their home countries, there’s really no reason that Enstrom can’t.
We’re not looking to pass a harsh judgement on the guy. Yet nearly every other player in the NHL would love to have the chance to represent their country at the Olympics. Heck, we bet that almost every other player in Winnipeg would jump at the chance to play in Sochi.
Yet here’s Enstrom, taking a pass. And that’s a fail in our books.