On Monday night, I was at the bachelor party for PITB’s esteemed co-founder, Harrison Mooney. Judging from that small slice of Vancouver’s population, Canucks fans are both extremely excited and extremely concerned about Elias Pettersson.
I was asked several times throughout the evening about whether Pettersson was for real and how soon he might play for the Canucks and the questions seemed to get more desperate the more was imbibed.
The reason Pettersson is so exhilarating and yet so terrifying is that his ceiling is so incredibly high. We’re talking about a player who out-performed Peter Forsberg in the Swedish Hockey League at a similar age and broke the legendary Kent Nilsson’s 42-year-old record for most points by a junior player. He was the first under-20 player to outright lead the SHL in scoring. He has the potential to be a legitimate superstar.
Unfortunately, that also means he has farther to fall. It’s hard to avoid overhyping Pettersson and placing too much expectation on him to succeed and lift up the Canucks from their current depths. That’s just too much weight to place on one young man’s shoulders.
For Canucks fans looking for a way to support and lift up Pettersson instead of piling up on his shoulders, you can’t go wrong by looking towards the example of the Vaxjo Lakers, both the players and the fans. After Pettersson passed Nilsson, they produced a video showing just how much they appreciate their leading scorer.
I’m not sure what the fans are chanting at the end of the video, as it’s likely in Swedish, but it sounds like “Elias scored a goal. Elias scored a goal. Elias scored a goal.” I wish there was a culture of songs and chants in North American hockey.
The bulk of the video, however, is spent with Pettersson’s teammates, as they praise their young teammate. It’s fantastic and I can’t get enough of it.
“He’s an extremely special player,” said Shinnimin, who had 14 goals and 34 points for the Lakers this season. “He’s got an elite talent.”
“Best player I think I’ve ever played with,” said Andrew Calof, who once played with Rob Schremp, so that’s high praise indeed. Calof was second on the team in scoring behind Pettersson, and his praise takes a turn towards his fashion sense at the end.
“He does everything perfectly in practices on absolutely everything, whether it’s his shot, his passing, the way he dresses, the way he waxes his hair — everything he does, he just tries to make sure it’s absolutely perfect.”
It’s clear how much Pettersson’s Vaxjo teammates mean to him and vice versa, as they seem so proud of him.
“It’s my family,” said Pettersson of his teammates, shortly after showing him in tears in the locker room, and did the air in the room you’re watching this video get really dusty at that point of the video for you too? It must be allergy season starting early. Yeah, that’s it.
When it comes to breaking Kent Nilsson’s record, the praise kept pouring in.
“It’s extremely impressive that somebody broke it,” said Calof, “and I’m pretty honoured to be able to say that I played with the player who did it.”
“He has worked so hard,” said Shinnimin, “and for me to be a part of it, to be able to play with him, and watch him do that this year was a pretty special feeling for me.”
The best comments came from Joel Persson, who was the top-scoring defenceman on the team and fed Pettersson passes for many of his one-timer goals on the power play.
“He does incredible things on the ice that you really don’t understand,” said Persson. “You have to watch them multiple times on video and you are still as surprised every time you see it.”
“I thought that he would break the record,” continued Persson, “but I didn’t think he would do it in just one game, but still, I’m not surprised anyway.”
Then the translated play call of his record-breaking goal scrolls across the bottom of the screen: “He’s brilliant. He’s extraordinary. He might even be too good.”
Canucks fans can only hope.
*Stick-tap to GoCanucksGo on YouTube for uploading the video to make it available for embedding.