Loui Eriksson has played just over 500 career regular season games in the NHL, all of them with the Dallas Stars. Playing in a market that isn’t exactly a hockey hotbed and for a team that has known little but disappointment for the last decade, the 27-year-old may be conditioned to seeing things in a different light.
Any of those perceptions, however, are about to change, as Eriksson gets set to join the Bruins. The newly acquired winger spoke to the media on a conference call Monday just a few days after he was traded from Dallas to Boston. In short, he sounded like someone who had been released from hockey exile. The Swedish winger reiterated over and over and over how excited he was to join the Bruins and how eager he was to get going.
Who can blame him? After a run to the Western Conference finals in 2008, Eriksson has not tasted postseason play since. The rebuilding continued around him through a handful of coaching and regime changes and alterations. Unexpectedly, though, that is over for Eriksson. He is now a member of the defending Eastern Conference champions, and the next game he plays will come in front of a sold-out barn in front of a fanbase that takes its hockey very seriously.
“I’m really looking forward to playing in Boston,” Eriksson said Monday on the conference call. “The last couple of years they’ve been one of the best teams in the league. I’m real excited to go over there and play. Everything happened real fast, but I’m real excited”
Happened fast, it did. As much of New England settled in for barbecues and beers with buddies on the Fourth of July, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli was putting the finishing touches on a blockbuster deal. The trade that brought Eriksson and some prospects to Boston also sent Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to Dallas. The inclusion of Seguin, as well as the party-boy details that allegedly sped up his Boston exit, overshadowed the acquisition of Eriksson. However, as a player viewed by many as underrated, being overlooked is likely something Eriksson has become accustomed to.
If he can continue to produce in Boston like he did in Dallas — averaging nearly a point per game in his last five seasons — while continuing to play a two-way style of hockey that is coveted by the Bruins organization, he won’t be underrated for long. On the surface, at least, it seems like Eriksson could be a fantastic fit with the B’s.
“I know they play a tough kind of style and a good defensive style,” Eriksson said. “I know that will fit me real well; I like to play that way. I’m just happy to come to a team like Boston. I know it’s a really good team to play with.”
It shouldn’t take long for Eriksson to start fitting in with his new club. He’s a left-handed shot who prefers to play on the right side, and he said Chiarelli informed him he’d be playing the right wing in Boston. It only seems logical that Eriksson, whose two-way style has drawn some comparisons to that of Patrice Bergeron, would skate on a line with the Selke Trophy winner. Bergeron centering Eriksson and Brad Marchand on the left is one Bruins fans might get used to seeing for the next few years.
“[Bergeron’s] a real good player int he league and he’s been real good for many years,” Eriksson commented. “I think it will be a good fit for me to play with him. I think hes’ a smart player and can play a really good defensive style and also score goals and do a lot of things out there. I think that will be a good fit for me and I’m going to try to make him better too when I play with him.”
The seeds for success are already planted for Eriksson. He gets to join a team that not only has a need he can fill, but it’s a team that also plays a familiar style. If that’s not enough, the opportunity to play in a market like Boston should also jump-start Eriksson, especially after what he laments as a down year in 2013. After making the “easy” decision to waive his no-trade clause to join the Bruins, it would appear that he’s ready to embrace this new challenge. Even from afar, he already knows what good that can bring.
“It will be a little bit different than Dallas for sure,” he said, perhaps slightly understating that fact just a bit. “I’m excited to go there and see all the fans. I know they have a lot of people coming to the games and it’s a really good hockey town.”
That’s something that some players will shy away from. In this case, though, Eriksson can’t wait to get started.
Photo via Facebook/Official Dallas Stars