If today’s events are any indication, it appears that Lou Lamoriello’s influence stretches beyond the borders of Toronto and crosses the Atlantic Ocean. The Toronto Maple Leafs GM flexed his most intimidating verbiage today, effectively convincing Hockey Sweden to cancel William Nylander’s availability to the media today.
The original report comes from Swedish media outlet Expressen’s sports section, and as such, is not in English, but the gist of the report is as follows.
On Wednesday, Swedish Ice Hockey Association called a media availability regarding Nylander’s opening game upper-body injury, noting that the 19-year-old would speak to the press for the first time since it happened. Considering the fact that Sweden have emerged as favourites for the gold medal, and Nylander is their top player, this was big news. Swedish media outlets were prepared to broadcast the availability live.
However, Nylander didn’t appear. Instead, SIHA media relations head Anders Feltenmark made his way to the podium, stated that Nylander would not speak and that team doctor PA Bergsten would be made available instead. Bergsten offered no new updates from prior days.
Feltenmark suggested that the decision was made by the team to pull Nylander’s availability. SportExpresen, on the other hand, claims that Lamoriello contacted both Nylander and Team Sweden and said that he was, under no circumstances allowed to speak to the media about his injury.
Tommy Boustedt, who is the SIHA’s chief of Player Development, refused to comment when asked about Lamoriello.
This is a very interesting development. Nylander’s status means a lot to his home country, but as we all know, Lamoriello likes complete and total control over the transparency offered by his players. The was no way that he was going to let arguably his top prospect talk about a potentially serious injury while Leafs management and media relations was thousands of kilometres away.
As a media member who selfishly would appreciate more transparency could see the pros and cons from both sides of the coin. Ultimately, though, discussing the process won’t help with recovery, which is the most important part of the story. In the meantime, we wait to see when Nylander will return if he comes back at all before the end of the tournament; the team won’t play him until he gets in at least one successful full-contact practice in.
They might not need him, anyway. Sweden remains atop their group, and at the time of publishing, are up 2-1 over Team Canada.