“Finally,” Joel Persson said, “I am here.”
This is the story of a small town Swede who found himself on a one-way deal, when even the people who watched him play back home thought there was no way he’d ever make it to the bright lights of the National Hockey League.
“When I was in my younger 20s, I didn’t think I’d be here today. I was almost working a full-time job at a school for five years. As a teacher and assistant teacher,” said Persson, 25, who worked with special needs kids. “In my mind I was seeing myself as a teacher. Looks like it’s far from teacher now.”
As Oilers camp opened with the debut of Adam Larsson and Darnell Nurse as Edmonton’s new “shutdown pair,” Oscar Klefbom emerged with the right-shot Persson, a lefty-righty pairing that would really be a godsend for the Oilers — assuming the new guy can play.
“Another Swede,” smiled Klefbom, the Oilers team leader in ice time last season who has partnered the past few years with Larsson. “(Persson has a) good shot, good mobility… What I’ve heard from guys back home is that he has some really good qualities that are going to help us this year.”
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Of course, those “guys back home” were talking about …read more