Stockholm´s ice hockey need to gain lost ground

Sports | 2012-04-18 | 1 comment
When Skellefteå beat Brynäs with 3-2 in last night’s Swedish ice hockey final it means that the struggle for the championship title will continue at least until tomorrow when they meet again in Gävle. Stockholm has at the same time since long lost its dominant position in Swedish ice hockey.

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First let us look at the contenders in the final. Skellefteå AIK from the city of Skellefteå in north Sweden has played 35 seasons in the first division of Swedish ice hockey. They came back to the elite for the 2006 / 2007 season after seventeen years in a lower division. They have become Swedish champions once before; in 1978.

Brynäs from the city of Gävle 174 kilometers north of Stockholm has played 54 seasons in the highest league and won twelve Swedish championship titles; the most recent in 1999. This is second best in Sweden after the Stockholm team Djurgården which has sixteen titles, the most recent in 2001.

Problems in Stockholm

While the ice hockey finals go on, the ice hockey season is already over in Stockholm. The relegation of Djurgården to the second league is considered by some as one of the most remarkable events in Swedish ice hockey for many years (which is not the same thing as to say it was a surprise). Djurgården is an institution in Swedish ice hockey, someone has said that it is the Swedish correspondent to Montreal Canadians in NHL. Djurgården has won most championships, is always favorit to the title in media’s eyes even when there are no reason for it, they are (or have been) the most self-confident club and enjoys being favoits and being in the center. They have probably the most numbers of supporters but also the most numbers of enemies. The opponents just love to hate them. This club will not play in the highest league next season, and this has only happened once before during the last sixty years; in 1976. That time, they returned directly the year after.

Some “experts” have claimed that it will be a disaster for the Elitserien that Djurgården has been relegated, that the media interest will shrink and that this will affect the whole league badly, not least economically. This is very exaggerated. If Djurgården comes back soon no one will remember a few years from now that they were even gone. If they do not return, another team will take their place in the long run.

The reason for Djurgården’s relegation can be found on many levels. Several serious mistakes have been made in recruiting new players and the economy has been bad for many years.

Another Stockholm team, AIK, is doing much better for the time being. They reached the Semi final for the second year in a row. But just two years ago they were in the second division and were very, very near bankruptcy. They have a good time now but they will lose many of their key players already during this summer break. In the long run it is very hard for the Stockholm teams to compete with teams from smaller cities, which have back up from their cities and often run their own arenas. This is not possible so far in Stockholm due to too expensive construction costs, too lite ground to build on and the lack of political support.

Early Stockholm domination

The first Swedish championship title was awarded to the Stockholm team IK Göta in 1922. After that it took 35 years, until 1957, before a team that was NOT from Stockholm won for the first time. The 35 first titles went to the capital. The question is if we will see a championship title to Stockholm again in the foreseeable future. If not, it is a possibility that Djurgården will lose the position as the club with most number of trophies. If Brynäs beats Skellefteå in the final, they are only three titles behind…


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