Sunday, August 03, 2008

Old School - Bengt Gustafsson

Thanks, as always, to our buddy Gavlegirl who has provided another translation for us, this time of an interview with Caps' legend Bengt Gustafsson.

"Washington is a great place to play hockey in!" - says Gustafsson.

Mostly known as head coach for Team Sweden, in this week's article, we look closer at Bengt-Åke Gustafsson the player, who won two World Cup gold medals and played nine seasons for the Washington Capitals in the NHL. Today you will meet the man known in the hockey world was "Gus."

Many have testified about his early leadership talents on the ice as the foundation for his current job as head coach for Team Sweden, where he was an Olympic Gold medalist in 2006. Today in this interview he tell which players he looked up to as a young player in his hometown Karlskoga and alot of different things.

While you were growing up in Karlskoga, had you decided that you would be a hockey player?

Not really, I played both soocer and hockey but in my early teen years I got a shot at playing with IF Karlskoga/Bofors so it came natural to choose hockey.

Which player did you look up to when you where growing up?

Wow, there where so many talented players back then but I think I have to say Bengt-Åke "Ludde" Karlsson. He was a talented center who did his job on the ice every day.

What do you remember mostly from your first game with IF Karlskoga/Bofors?

Not much about the game but we where playing against SEL team HV71. At the warmup I shot a puck at the audience and hit a girl in the head. Not a fun memory but the girl survived.

In 1979 you went pro with Edmonton Oilers in the WHA. Why Edmonton when you where drafted by Washington?

Edmonton wanted to protect me, Wayne Gretzky and Ed Mio as players so no other team could steal us from them when it was decided they should get into the NHL. I went there and played two WHA finals against Winnipeg before they protested that I was playing. [laughs]

But the next year you played for Washington?

All I know that it became alot of trouble with newspapers and media before the NHL's president decided that Washington was my team to play for. So I jumped on a plane and went there instead.

Nine seasons with the same team Washington Capitals, I guess it means you enjoyed their organization?

Oh yeah, a great place to play hockey in.

If you go back there today, how do they treat you?

I love every minute of it, interviews with media, meeting the fans etc. You get V.I.P treatment where ever you go so I feel honoured.

Finally, pick out your own All Star team?

That is hard, you usually forget someone if you do a lineup and can I be in there myself? In goal Pelle (Lindbergh). Defensemen "Lidas" (Nicklas Lidström) and Börje Salming. Gretzky, "Sudden" (Mats Sundin) and me up front. I think that is a pretty good lineup.

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