Last week, Ottawa GM Bryan Murray announced he was keeping Mika Zibanejad from joining Team Sweden at the 2013 World Junior championships so Zibanejad could continue playing with AHL Binghamton.
That didn’t sit well with Swedish head coach Roger Ronnberg then — and it’s not sitting well now, either.
“It is sad that Europeans always have to be on our backs for them over there and that they can dictate and decide about these tournaments,” Ronnberg told reporters in Sweden on Monday (via the Ottawa Citizen).
“They [North Americans] are pretty stubborn. It’s a game of power against Europe, this.”
On Monday, Sweden released its training camp roster for the ’13 tourney — to be played in Ufa, Russia — and Zibanejad’s absence drew plenty of attention.
He was a national hero after scoring the tournament-winning goal in last year’s competition (a 1-0 OT win over Russia), snapping Sweden’s 31-year gold medal drought in the process.
There’s also the fact Sweden was set to return a whopping nine players from last year’s team, a number that’s been whittled down to six. Defensemen Oscar Klefbom and Jonas Brodin are out with injury, and those losses are compounded by the fact Zibanejad won’t be made available.
That said, Team Sweden isn’t ready to admit defeat just yet. Following the roster announcement, Ronnberg alluded to the national federation getting involved in the Zibanejad affair.
“It is a big disappointment that Ottawa does not want to release Mika to join the team for the World Juniors,” Ronnberg told IIHF.com. “I have asked our federation to intervene and I am confident they will.”