- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bengt Gustafsson has done a lot for the Capitals’ organization - he scored 196 goals and had 555 points in his nine seasons with the team and later fathered a child who would become a Washington first-round pick.

It stands to reason then that the Caps would be willing to give back to Gustafsson. He is spending a week with the club as a “guest coach,” working with the coaches and players on the ice and in the film room.

“We’re glad to have him. We’re going to get information from him, too,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He was a great player for the Capitals, and he’s a good coach now. We’ll share information, and I think it is a great idea.”

He had a similar stay with the Ottawa Senators last season.

Gustafsson’s primary motive for the field trip is part of his preparation for the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. “Gus” has been the national team coach for his native Sweden since 2005 and will be in charge when the Swedes defend their gold medal performance from 2006 in Turin, Italy.

Most international competitions are staged on the wider sheets of ice prevalent in Europe. But the upcoming Olympics will be played at GM Place and UBC Thunderbird Arena with the NHL standard dimensions: 200 feet long by 85 feet high.

“The games will be played on this size of rinks,” Gustafsson said. “Even if I played on this size for nine years, there have been changes. I just want to see what are the teams and coaches talking about and what they worry about.

“For me, I see it as an education thing. It can maybe open up some doors in my head to see different things. You live in your own little world, but you like to see how other people work.”

During his tenure with the Swedish national team, Gustafsson has had plenty of success, including a gold medal double in 2006 when he won both the Olympic and world championship tournaments.

Washington center Nicklas Backstrom has played for Gustafsson in the past three world championships, including 2006 when Sweden won despite having only eight players back from the victorious Olympic team.

“He is a good coach. He knows a lot - he played here before. He definitely knows what he is doing,” Backstrom said. “It is good. It is a lot different between Swedish hockey and hockey in the NHL, so it is good for him to see new ideas and how we work. I think it is kind of good for him and good for us, too.”

Caps fans almost certainly will get to watch Backstrom play for Gustafsson in Vancouver, and they also have a keen interest in the development of his son, Anton. Washington added the younger Gustafsson to the organization in June, tabbing him with the No. 21 overall selection in the 2008 draft.

Anton Gustafsson is playing for Bofors IF of HockeyAllsvenskan, which is Sweden’s version of the American Hockey League. He has five goals and eight points in 16 games, but his season has been marred by injuries.

Gustafsson was dogged by a back injury last season, and his stay at the Caps’ rookie development camp last summer was cut short after one day on the ice. His season started slow because of the back problem, but eventually he got healthy and played well.

Then he missed five weeks because of a knee ligament injury. After coming back from that, he now is out again - this time with a broken finger.

“It’s been a tough situation this year,” his father said. “That was the thing: After camp here he came back home and started slowly but picked it up pretty good, then he hit a guy and the guy fell backwards on his leg and hurt the ligament in his knee. It seems to be a tough year.”

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