The Carolina Hurricanes practice had ended at PNC Arena and the players unwinding in the locker room when forward Elias Lindholm walked over to goalie Eddie Lack.
The two talked for a few moments. Lack gave Lindholm a fist-bump. Lindholm slapped Lack’s pads and the two exchanged smiles.
What was said? Consider it a private conversation. The two were speaking in Swedish.
It’s not uncommon in the Canes’ room. Victor Rask is from Leksand, Sweden, and Lindholm from Boden. Lack, who came to Carolina in a June trade, is a native of Norrtalje, Sweden, and Joakim Nordstrom, obtained in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks last month, is from Stockholm.
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The Canes once had that Finland connection with Jussi Jokinen, Joni Pitkanen and Tuomo Ruutu. Now it’s the Swedes.
Lack, 27, is the oldest and easily the most active on social media. He has 118,000 followers on Twitter and isn’t bashful about tweeting, although he said he has slowed down his activity.
“I’m trying to keep a low profile at the beginning and see what’s going on,” he said, smiling.
That’s hard to do when you have such things to discuss as a new taco tattoo. Yes, taco. It’s one of his favorite foods, so why not a tattoo?
“I have a lot of meaningful tattoos on my body and I wanted something fun, too,” Lack said.
Lindy, how to describe Lindy? He’s probably the funny guy, even though he doesn’t even know it.
Canes goalie Eddie Lack on Elias Lindholm
But Lack insisted he’s not the only fun-lover among the Swedes. There’s Rask …
“Victor probably is the sneaky, quiet guy, but once he gets going he gets going,” Lack said.
And Lindholm …
“Lindy, how to describe Lindy? He’s probably the funny guy, even though he doesn’t even know it,” Lack said.
As for Lack, Lindholm simply said, “He’s a goalie, you know.” Added Rask, “He’s a funny guy and a good guy.”
Rask, it appears, also is the candy man. Literally. He’s the one who orders Swedish candy each week from a store in Los Angeles.
Lack said they are Ferrero cars, calling them “unbelievably super good.” Not that he eats a lot.
“I can’t really do it or I won’t be very good on the ice,” he said, laughing. “I try to stay away but it’s not easy.”
The Swedes should fill major roles this season for the Canes, who will need much to go right to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Lindholm and Rask could be linemates this season after playing on the same line for Sweden in the 2015 IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic. Canes coach Bill Peters, an assistant for Team Canada in the tournament, said both played well and benefited from the experience.
Lindholm, 20, was the fifth pick of the 2013 NHL Draft and has picked up the nickname the “Swedish Beast.” He had 17 goals last season, has a quick, nasty shot and could be a 30-goal scorer this season, Peters said.
Rask, 22, was a second-round draft pick by Carolina in 2011 and was briefly at the Canes’ training camp in September 2013, Lindholm’s rookie year. “My first year, me and Rasker were the only Swedes and he got sent down pretty quick,” Lindholm said.
Rask spent the year with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL but was needed at center by the Canes last season when Jordan Staal suffered a broken leg in preseason. He played 80 games for Carolina as a rookie, proving he belonged in the NHL.
The Canes dealt away goalie Anton Khudobin in June and laer traded for Lack, whose strong play in net carried the Vancouver Canucks into the playoffs last season. Lack and Rask worked out together the past couple summers in Leksand, allowing Rask to “get to know him a little better.”
Nordstrom, 23, is a versatile forward and part of the September deal with Chicago that also brought Kris Versteeg to the Canes. He sits to Lindholm’s right in the Canes’ room, making for easy conversation.
Forwards Erik Karlsson (Lerum, Sweden) and Lucas Wallmark (Umea), two former Carolina draftees, also were at training camp this year.
Rask said when the Swedes are among themselves they’ll speak Swedish. It’s always English on the ice, he said.
“My first three years in North America, I was the only Swede on my team,” Rask said. “To have this many, it’s fun.”
To which Lindholm added, “You can never have too many.”
Lindholm was joking. Wasn’t he?