it's no secret, (at this point) to my nerdy hockey blog friends, that the two subjects i'm the most comfortable in discussing are the baby flames and european (mostly swedish) leagues. for anyone unaware, i spent a week in sweden during the lockout in december 2004, and attended four games in three different levels of hockey during that time.
kent was musing a bit today on some flames' prospects who played in europe last season. being right smack dab in the middle of what i consider "my element", i thought i'd provide a tiny picture show of the arenas i visited in the various swedish pro leagues.
1. sweden DIV 1 hockey:
moab hallen: capacity 650 (180 seats,370 standing): home of IFK kumla
my friend's kid. note the rink size and roof
kumla v. skåre. note the scoreboard.
this arena was slightly larger than your canadian community rink with bleachers-style seating. the penalty boxes were recessed into the stands with no glass on the backsides, so my buddy pår went and talked to one of the guys from skåre who was sitting in the sinbin....
speinbanken arena: capacity 1700 (400 seats, 1300 standing): home of IFK arboga
leksands v. arboga
michael ryder was playing for leksands in this game, and helped his team vault into the eliteserien for the following season. the best part about this rink was that the zamboni was attached to a retractable hose in the rafters that provided it water as it drove around the ice.
i stood up for the entire game.
scaniarinken: capacity 7500: home of södertälje SK
djurgårdens v. södertälje
it was a bit of a hike from downtown stockholm to get to this rink (two commuter trains and a bus) but it was definitely well worth it. the tickets were like seven bucks for the standing room only section, and the hockey was outstanding. fyi: södertälje is olli jökinen's home club***.
[note: apparently this is not true. jökinen just played there during the lockout]
globen: capacity 14000: home of djurgårdens
modo v. djurgårdens
smack dab in the centre of stockholm, the globe is easily the coolest arena i've ever been in (though the saddledome does have it's own unique charm). the interior is all red and it's HUGE inside. djurgårdens is mats sundin's home club.
ultimately, my point is that i think you can extrapolate the level of hockey from the size of the arena the teams are playing in. to say per jonsson was playing in DIV1 last year and was promoted to the eliteserien (which, for the record, is how it appears) is to say that the kid made HUGE strides in 07/08. mikael backlund will likely lead his allsvenskan team next season, if/when he gets sent back to sweden.
again, we must remember that the allsvenskan is not a feeder system to the eliteserien the way the AHL is to the NHL. the two leagues are more comparable to the english soccer system, where there is relegation between the premiereship and the championship leagues.