Disclaimer: This is 100% fiction. To the non Chowder readers, Carl Soderberg is the Yeti, the Unicorn, and we love him. All players in the NHL are real, all other names are fake. I will be posting this in sections to keep fan post lengths down, and this will start every new post. I hope you enjoy, and Carl, if you Google your own name, I hope you let me publish this and sign one.
It was a cold dark night in Stockholm Sweden. Having just arrived at the hotel after a red eye flight, all I could think about doing was getting some rest. It was going to be a short trip, three days three nights, and two games to catch. "Thank God they scheduled an afternoon flight," I thought to myself. "Yes, I’m checking in… Brian Palmer," I informed the hotel clerk. "You are all set in room number 434, here is your hotel key," she replied with a smile. I gave her a nod and headed towards the elevator. Entering my room, I noticed that there was a message already on the machine. "Brian, the arrangements have changed, game one is at 1:00pm not 7:30pm. Please plan accordingly, as Daniel Backlund is the man we’re looking for the most," spoke the head of player scouting. "Good, gives me more time to write up my report," I spoke aloud to the empty room. After unpacking my suitcase and setting my phone’s alarm I promptly turned in for a few hours of sleep.
Waking to the sound of my alarm going off, instincts took over, shower, have a cup of coffee, see scores from last night and get dressed. After an hour and a half into my routine, a knock on my door startled me from the paper. Opening the door, there was no one on the other side. Puzzled, I looked at my feet to see a manila envelope laid at the foot of my door, addressed to solely my surname. "Curious," I thought, picking up the envelope. The return address on it read Restalundsvagen 4-6, 702 25 Orebro, Sweden. Opening the letter, I read;
Dear Mr. Palmer,
It is with great respect I leave this with you. We have a young individual who will be a perfect fit with your organization. I have seen your itinerary, and know you have a four hour delay between your two scheduled appointments. Please take the attached ticket and visit the address provided. You will not be disappointed.
"Well, this is new," I thought turning back into my hotel room. I’ve had agents, players, coaches and even parents speak to me about an individual, giving the players praises, but never anything like this. It felt, cryptic, how did this Jonston know I was in Sweden, let alone my schedule? How did he know I was staying in this room? Was this individual even male?
As time passed by in the morning, I made my way towards the ice arena. Backlund would be playing in this game this afternoon, and I was instructed to take notes of him, on and off the ice. A big defenseman, we were going to need someone who could play alongside Zdeno Chara, eventually taking his role later in his career. Showing my ID tag, I was able to enter the back entrance of the arena and see the players enter. Spotting the player I was mostly here for, I found him to be most professional. Dressed in a light grey suit, headphones in, I could sense that he was already in game mode. "Good," I thought, "a pro."
Taking my seat in the press box for the opening period, I made several player notes, not just on Backlund, but on most of both teams. Skill players, checkers, both goaltenders, they each had notes. As the period drew to a close, Backlund took a late hit up high, sending him down to the ice in ugly fashion. Two teammates took obvious exception and a scrum broke out. Instantly I was on the phone. "Gregg, Brian here. Backlund was just laid out big time, looks like a concussion, down hard." A short "Shit," from Gregg ended our phone call. As I stood up, headed towards the concourse for a bite to eat and use the restroom, I was stopped by a young woman. "Brian Palmer?" She asked, holding yet another envelope in her hand. "Yes, what can I do for you?" I responded. Not another word was spoken as she handed me the envelope.
Dear Mr. Palmer
Please allow me to apologize for the nature of my communications with you. I hope you are enjoying your stay here in Stockholm, we hope you’ll attend the game tonight at 7 to see my associate play. His name is Carl Soderberg. Center, number 17. We are away, he plays for Linkoping.
I looked up to see the woman gone. Headed for the concourse, I reached for my phone and sent a message to Gregg asking about this player. He responded, "If you want to check him up, go for it, your decision, it’s your sleep cycle."
The game had ended and I had sufficient notes taken regarding Daniel Backlund and several other players. Preparing my report, I looked at the clock. Quarter till five. "I’ll go," I thought, I had time to just make it, plus the ticket was free, can’t complain about that.
Arriving at the arena, I punched my ticket and headed towards my seat. As I reached my seat, I saw a third envelope with my name on it.
I pulled out my notebook and began to work. Soderberg took the opening draw, winning it clean back to the right defenseman. The game went on well, with Linkoping playing well, Carl getting regular shifts. He was clear and a way the best forward on the ice, and having him on the Bruins roster would do wonderful things. As time ran out my note pad was quite full. "Gregg’s not going to believe this, this guy’s a gem," I said aloud. As I headed out of the arena, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Turning around I saw the same woman who handed me the envelope in Stockholm. "Glad you could make it Mr. Palmer, I am Erica Jonston. I’m glad my plan for getting you out here did not scare you away." "On the contrary, I hope this ruse does not get out to the general public, I’ll never get to write my reports," I answered her. "It won’t, what did you think of my associate?" "He’d be a good fit, now that I’ve seen him play, I will be recommending him to the team," I again answered. "Good, enjoy the rest of your stay in Sweden Mr. Palmer," she stated, turning away and heading back, and getting lost into the crowd.
The rest of my trip in Sweden was productive, however my mind kept thinking back to Carl, and how this transpired. "Why did this woman go to such lengths to promote him to me? His skill would have provided him plenty of opportunities. Interesting," I thought. On the plane, I sent out a couple of e-mails to other scouts, asking if anyone knew the name Carl Soderberg. A few responses mentioned that they were interested in drafting the young man, while others were more inclined to drafting to fill other needs. Arriving back in Boston, I returned back to my apartment in the back bay, ready to unpack and present my reports.
"This is good work Brian," Gregg praised, looking over the top of the reports. "I’ll give this information to Peter and let him make the call." "Looks like Daniel is going to make the cut on draft day," Gregg continued. "This, Soderberg, his name pops up once in a while, not really sure if the NHL game will suit him." "I don’t know Gregg, this young woman went a long ways to ensure I went out to Orebro, gotta hand it to her," I responded. "He’d be a great fit, no doubt, but we’re deep down the middle, can he play the wing?" "Not sure, seemed solid enough in his own end playing the center, third line maybe?" We conversed. "I don’t know Brian, but if his name comes up in the third round, I’d advise Peter to pull the trigger," Gregg replied before answering his phone. Mentioning that I was on my way out to hit the city, I closed the door to Gregg’s office, hearing the hello’s of him and Peter begin to discuss my findings.