When veteran winger P.J. Axelsson became a free agent this offseason, it looked like his career in a Bruins sweater was over. As it turns out, not only was he done in Boston, but he was leaving the NHL altogether.
Axelsson signed with Swedish team Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League, the team's official Web site reports.
The 34-year-old joins Frolunda for the third time in his career. He spent four seasons with the team as a youngster from 1993-97. He then rejoined the team during the NHL lockout, collecting 18 points and 95 penalty minutes in 45 games that year. In total, he has registered 75 points in 150 games for Frolunda.
Axelsson's career with the Bruins was never spectacular, but his leadership on and off the ice [as well as a superhuman knack for killing penalties] was a known commodity throughout Boston.
"He's sad to be leaving Boston. No question," Neil Abbott, Axelsson's agent, told the Boston Globe. "He's been here for a long time, his whole career. He's very appreciative of the Boston fans and sends his thanks."
WEEI.com reports that the Bruins did not offer Axelsson a contract, nor did they ask for one.
?P.J.?s first choice always would have been to return to Boston, but at the end of the day we had a couple of multi-year proposals [from other NHL teams] that were contingent upon bodies being moved to create cap room. That didn?t happen," Abbott told WEEI.com. "Once he found out that returning to [Boston] wasn?t an option, going back home to Europe became a much easier decision to make.?
Another factor that may have played into Axelsson's decision is the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. In 2006, Axelsson was part of the gold-medal winning Swedish team that won in Turin, Italy, registering six points (3-3-6) in eight games.
Though Axelsson could technically return to the NHL after next season, his career in North America will likely end with 103 goals and 184 assists in 797 games.
"P.J. was a Bruin through and through, true to the core," Abbott told the Globe. "With his hard work and determination, he gave it his all. I never saw any client work harder and have more fun doing it than P.J. He loved wearing that jersey."