At the tender age of 35, Niklas Kronwall is undoubtedly a part of the veteran core that the Red Wings have prided themselves on over the past few seasons. In mid-December, Kronwall experienced some pain starting to return to his knee. According to a report from St. James, the veteran blueliner was planning to have his knee scoped in the offseason. Unfortunately for him, and his team, plans changed and Kronwall was left sidelined just before the All-Star break commenced.
Okay, so, the guy is 35 years old, he's not getting any younger, and he's had issues with his knee just a half-decade ago. Could this be the beginning of the end for Niklas Kronwall? There's no doubt that he's been woefully mediocre this season before going down with the injury, and you can certainly say that there have been multiple culprits contributing to this. Kronwall has been traveling with the team during the Florida trip, and he did an interview with a Swedish daily newspaper, Expressen, to which he shined some light on his future playing professional hockey along with some other hockey-related conversation. Thanks to Patrik from Eyes on the Prize for translating the video, because I definitely do not speak a lick of Swedish!
Hello Niklas, directly from Florida;
NK – Hello Hello
You are on a road trip with the mums right now can you tell us about it?
NK – It means we get the chance to invite our fantastic mothers out on a road trip, we started in Tampa on Tuesday with a nice dinner with everyone, and then they have been allowed to be part of the team and experience the flights, hotels, late nights, everything that goes on around the games and how it all works. It has been amazingly fun and it’s the first time we have our mums with us, previously we have had a dad trip (the last 10 years) so I think it was time that our mums got to experience it as well.
Of course, and can you tell us how this feels we have spoken about it here in the studio and think SHL should start doing this as well. With all what the families go through driving youngsters around, how is it to have them at big trips like this?
NK – It is really fun, and it is a way to give something back (to our parents) and to show them our daily life and how everything works. It is one thing to show them everything at "home" but on a road trip things are different so now they get the chance to really get the true experience. It is great and you are proud to treat your mother to an experience like this.
What does she think so far? Is she happy?
NK – Of course she is, she has some laughs and it is difficult to understand that just a few days ago she was in cold and wintry Stockholm and now she is resting in a sun chair in Florida instead. Everything has gone very fast and she still thinks that it is a bit weird. She has told me and asked me quite a few times that "Do you really understand how lucky you are and how good you have it?". For us this is our daily job and we might not respect it everyday when we complain about some random small things. I believe its good when we get these small hints and different views and to realize how fortunate we are.
And when mum says something you have to listen, right?
NK - Yes I think we all have learned that
I have to ask, how are you and when do you think you are back on the ice?
NK – I hope to be back on the ice after the weekend and then I guess, if there are no problems to be playing a week from that. I need to get the timing and the strength back so about 10 should be enough for me to get all in order.
You have to get your game in order so you can get into the World Cup team.
NK – That’s what I hope for, but it is still a long way off, but of course that is one of the things we all hope and want to be part of.
This prize (the interviewer holds up the Gold Puck – best player award in Sweden) that Victor Hedman won last year, you have played a bit so far this season, but you got injured and you follow the league form a close point of view, who is your candidate to get that price so far this year?
NK – I can not really see anyone but Erik Karlsson winning it this year, the things he does for Ottawa and what he means to that team it is difficult to even put words on it. He is so skillful and he leads the team in points every year, without Erik I am not sure where Ottawa would be even. My vote would be for Erik Karlsson.
If we make the question a bit bigger, the best Swedish player of all time, my colleagues here say Peter Forsberg, I say Nicklas Lidström: You have played with Lidström, Forsberg and Sundin, winning Olympic Gold as an example and Stanley Cup with Lidström. If you are only allowed to say one name whom would it be?
NK – I might not be the most objective person in this case, but I like to think that I am. I was fortunate to be a teammate of "Lidas" during countless of years in Detroit and to see how dominate in game after game for that period of time, I have to say "Lidas" there.
One of the co-hosts says "I just want to clarify, we think "Lidas" is the greatest but Foppa is the best" there is a fine line here.
NK – There is no question that Foppa, Sundin, Lidas and even Salming during his tenure have done amazing things for Swedish hockey. Foppa was so dominant you can be during those years where he was allowed to be healthy, but for Lidas to be able to do it over that period of time, seven Norris, it doesn’t exist in modern times. Well Erik might be on to catch him. I stand firm on my vote for Lidas.
You have been with us for quite some time, is it your 15th season in NHL?
NK – I am not that old, am I? (Big laugh) I think its my tenth season, am I so old really?
You have so many youtube clips and you have minted an expression (Kronwalled) but how is your body keeping up with this? Doesn’t it hurt?
NK – It is one of my knees if there is anything at all after all these years, but the rest of my body is fine. When I get one of those big hits to connect, then you won’t feel as much yourself. You get in correctly into the situation and you won’t feel that much yourself.
How long do you think you will be going?
NK – That’s a bit early to talk about, but I hope to play as long as possible. I know it isn’t the best of answers but I haven’t really had that thought (about ending my career) in my head yet. And I really don’t want to think about it either. But everyone you talk to that has had to retire early, for one reason or another, all of them say the same thing; "play as long as you can" because the grey boring life after your career makes you realize that there is nothing better than to play hockey. So I will try to hang on to this career as long as I possibly can.
What is happening in Florida the upcoming days?
It has been a quick turnaround, we arrived on Tuesday, played Tampa yesterday, tonight we play against Florida, then we take the flight back home after the game and then a new game on Saturday against Islanders I think.
I had been tossing the idea of Kronwall possibly looking into early retirement since the start of the season. Not that I want him to, I just think that his knee issues could be the beginning of the end. Don't get me wrong - this team needs him right now, and they need him healthy. Hopefully the time off to nurse this nagging injury will have done him some good.