It would have been hard to envision on the night of Nov. 29 that Mattias Sjogren would ever be back with the Washington Capitals. Unhappy with the Hershey Bears, Sjogren bolted for his native Sweden and general manager George McPhee said he would “probably not” welcome him back.
But then came this week. With Sjogren’s Swedish Elite League team, Farjestad, was eliminated from the playoffs, the two sides had mutual interest in his return. Sjogren got a call two days ago and was on the ice with the Caps for Wednesday’s practice.
After some of the negative things said by McPhee and agent Ritch Winter in November, like the Caps’ GM saying Sjogren “quit” on the team, this development seemed to come as a surprise.
“I don’t know if I was surprised. I felt like I was very happy,” Sjogren said. “It feels like it’s a great opportunity to come here. I haven’t met the new coaches yet, so it’s great for me to come here and meet them.”
Coach Dale Hunter didn’t know much about the 6-foot-3, 220-pound center before seeing him on the ice for the first time Wednesday.
“He’s real big,” Hunter said. “He skates well enough and we’ll see what he’s like.”
But not what he’s like in a game anytime soon. Sjogren will serve as a depth and practice player for the Caps for the foreseeable future. He was set to travel with the team to Boston as a black ace.
“I don’t expect anything,” Sjogren said. “If they wanna play me, I’ll be really happy and I’m very excited to be here. So we’ll see if I get some ice time.”
Returning to North America could be an indication that Sjogren hopes to try again next fall to make the Caps’ roster. He couldn’t in his first shot but has another year left on his entry-level contract.
Sjogren said he hasn’t talked to anyone in the organization about next year yet.
“Of course I want to stick in this organization. I like the organization and I like the team and all the guys here,” he said. “I see this as great opportunity to come here and to try to get some games. You never know what’s happening. So we’ll see.”
As for his decision to bail on the 2011-12 season with the Bears, Sjogren didn’t say whether he regretted it.
“It’s hard to compare,” he said. “I don’t know how it will look if I would stay. I made a decision and I have to stick with that.”