On Jan. 7, 2019, something very special happened when the Toronto Maple Leafs played the Nashville Predators. Two old friends played against each other. No doubt, that’s happened many times in the NHL. However, what makes this meeting so special is the humble circumstances and difficult beginnings of these young NHL players.
Both grew up in the northern Swedish rural town (population 441) of Kusmark. There’s a school in the town, which also was the hockey rink. Par Lindholm, the son of a local dairy farmer, and Viktor Arvidsson, the son of a potato farmer, often met there to play pick-up hockey like many children do all over the world.
For the tiny town of Kusmark, it’s significant that two of its sons would meet at Scotiabank Arena so far from home. Until Arvidsson played with Nashville in 2015, the town had never developed an NHL player. And when Lindholm signed a free-agent contract with the Maple Leafs last summer, Kusmark had two NHL players.
As Arvidsson said, “It’s like pretty surreal that it happened. It’s good for the little village at home, they’re proud of us.” Nashville chose Arvidsson cheap nhl jerseys from china
during the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Draft, and he’s turned into a 30-goal, 60-point player. Perhaps Lindholm will have similar success. But it sure didn’t look that way at the beginning. Lindholm wasn’t drafted into the NHL. In fact, he wasn’t very good. That is, until recently.
Lindholm’s History with the Maple Leafs
Most hockey players are anxious to get to the NHL. Not Lindholm. Instead, he waited until last spring, at the age of 26, to sign a one-year, two-way, $1.775 million entry-level contract with the Maple Leafs. He had at least one other NHL offer before, but he turned it down to stay in the Swedish Hockey League and work on his game.
In fact, Lindholm had never considered playing in the NHL. As he noted, “I wasn’t that good when I was younger.” But, he added, during “the last couple of years, I started playing good. I think last year was kind of a breakout season for me and when teams started calling, it felt right. Last year I had a couple options too, but I wasn’t ready for it yet.”