Varje vecka publiceras en gästkrönika. Den här gången publiceras en text av John Vigilante som han skrev innan han tragiskt gick bort i somras. John skriver om tiden i Sverige, vad den betytt, varför han lade ner den aktiva karriären och om vad han gjorde efter det.
Playing in Sweden was a great experience, it was a great league with very talented hockey players.
I learned a lot that season from Fredrik Soderstrom the head coach of IK Oskarshamn and the fans of Oskarshamn were very loyal and dedicated to the team. Every arena was an adrenaline rush to play in and a challenge as there was no easy teams in that league, no matter who you played if you did not show up to play you can lose any given night.
It was a unique experience for half the season during the lockout having NHL players come play in the league such as Anze Kopitar, Cam Fowler, Mikael Backlund, Gabriel Landeskog, Bobby Ryan among others which made games that much more challenging.
I actually had a heart condition which ended up ending my career after the year in Oskarshamn.
I signed with the Toledo Walleye in the ECHL and in our first preseason game I collapsed to the ice, and with further testing they found a heart condition which ended my playing career abruptly.
About a year later I got into coaching, I coached the midget major boys level, then assistant coach in the OHL with the Plymouth Whalers, the team ended up selling to the Flint Firebirds so ever since then I've been with Belle Tire coaching in there girls program and it's been a successful run as we have been fortunate to have some very good hockey teams.
But playing in Sweden was a great experience I learned a lot over there and methods in practice I still apply in my coaching today when running practices for our teams back home in Michigan.
That season meant a lot to me, it showed I was able as a person to move away from a different experience in Italy where I played the two years prior and step into a new experience in Sweden and be able to handle it and be able to thrive in that country and have a successful season.
The memories from that season still live with me today, from battles together as a team in tough games vs teams like Leksands and Vasteras to us bonding as a team and having team functions together to get to know eachother more away from the arena was always a fun time.
Overall Sweden was a great experience that as a player you always wish you can redo but it was a once in a lifetime moment and I will cherish those memories, who knows maybe coaching will bring me back to Sweden one day in the future!