Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Tough Swede

Three stories to commemorate Mattias Norstrom's retirement (warning: link in Swedish):

-My favorite Matty Norstrom story occurred when he went down to block a shot on a penalty kill and took it directly in the knee. He got up slowly, using his stick to support his body, and began to head to the bench in obvious pain. The puck didn't clear the zone, however, and the other team still had possession. Norstrom stopped and went back to his position, limping all the way. He was out there for another 30 seconds until he finally got a hold of the puck and iced it, then finally headed to the bench. That was tough.

-My second favorite Matty Norstrom story occurred when he took a puck to the mouth, again on a penalty kill. He collapsed and the whistle was blown to stop the play. The trainer headed out onto the ice but Matty suddenly jumped up, blood pouring from his mouth. He threw his stick into the boards, not because he was in pain but seemingly because he was annoyed that he had to leave the game for a few moments. He brushed past the trainer and went straight to the locker room. That was tough.

-The story that best exemplifies Norstrom happened after their bewildering 11-game losing streak at the end of the 2003-04 season. (I don't want to talk about it.) Norstrom didn't live in LA; he went home to Sweden at the end of every season and it was clear that he truly loved it there. Still, he stayed behind that off-season to work with the Kings, to make sure they didn't collapse like that again. A reporter asked Norstrom what he had been planning to do that off-season and Norstrom replied that he was going to build a deck at his home.

These stories are why I love Matty Norstrom. He's a guy that blocks shots, leads teams and builds decks. He's a guy that gave his captaincy to Luc Robitaille during his last home game. He's a guy that offered his captaincy to Rob Blake when he rejoined the team because he thought it was right. He's a guy that would retire at the age of 36 because he knew that his best days were behind him and it was time to start his second life. He was tough but never dirty and in a weird way you would almost describe his play as "honorable." On a rational level, I was glad the Kings traded Matty to the Dallas Stars because he had a big contract and we got a 1st-round pick out of it; still, there is no denying that he will always be one of my favorite players. Here's hoping you finally get a chance to build that deck, Matty.


Alexander Dubcek said...

Well said, Rudy. Matty was always one of my favorite players, mostly because he was such a mainstay, but also because he was such a good, quiet leader who obviously commanded the respect of everyone else in the room.

I was really hoping Dallas would make a deep run and win a Cup so Matty could join the laundry list of Kings greats who had to go elsewhere for their championship (see Butch Goring and Luc Robitaille, among others). Even though the rational Kings fan in me wanted Dallas to get swept out of the first round (until it was clear Anaheim would be their opponent) so the Kings would have a better pick from that trade, the rooting interest in me was with Dallas in the West, just because I still wanted Matty to get an honor he so richly deserved.

And I was also hoping Matty would come back to the NHL and sign a sweetheart deal to return to the Kings. I'd much rather be wasting millions of salary cap dollars on a declining Matty Norstrom than a well-past-his-prime Rob Blake.

Godspeed, Viking warrior. (Oh, he's not dead? Well, then good luck with that deck you've been putting off the past four years, you slacker.)

RudyKelly said...

At first I read a bad translation and thought Matty had died and had already prepared his ship to be burned. I was going to have a virgin buried with him but I couldn't find Earl's phone number. Hiyo!

Earl Sleek said...

Hey now, that's uncalled for. If anyone, bury Ribiero with his big pal Matty.

Ribiero's at least good at playing dead.

Chris in Torrance said...

Everyone knows how I felt about Matty being traded to Dallas. I would have like to see him retire a King but on the other hand, I'm happy that he was able to make one last run at the Cup.

I hope the Kings retire his number, he deserves that.

Anonymous said...

I was rooting for Dallas all the way. Nobody deserves to win more than nordstrom. I watched all of their games, like you say in a weird way I was paying my ultimate respect to the honorable one, the "CAPTAIN". Where can I e-mail to thank the man for his endless guts and class