Lias Andersson showed the passion, emotion we say we want from athletes


The 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships came to an end on Friday night when Canada, thanks to a late goal from Tyler Steenbergen, knocked off Sweden 2-1 in the Gold Medal game.

That is when the real show started.

During the medal ceremonies Lias Andersson, a 2017 first-round draft pick of the New York Rangers and the captain of team Sweden, was so disgusted with the result that he immediately removed his silver medal, calmly skated over to the glass, and then gently tossed it into the stands where it was caught by a fan.

The fan put the medal on (only after removing two different jerseys to reveal a Team Sweden jersey!) before throwing it back in an effort to return it to Andersson.

The immediate reaction on social media was swift, with Andersson’s mentions on Twitter quickly becoming a cesspool that called his sportsmanship, class and maturity all into question.

There also seemed to be a popular belief that Andersson, who has already been on the losing end of Gold Medal game for team Sweden at the Under-18 tournament, had simply made a mistake that he would one day come to regret, and that it was good that he was able to get his medal back.

[Tyler Steenbergen’s Late Goal Helps Canada Win World Junior Gold]

One person that did not seem to share the opinion was Lias Andersson.

When he met with the media following the game Andersson doubled down on his medal toss, saying “there was one guy in the stands who wanted it more than me, so I decided to give it to him and I think he deserved it.”

He also added that he hasn’t looked at his silver medal from the under-18 tournament in more than two years, and when asked if he was happy that the medal was returned to him, he simply said no.

In the end, he shouldn’t have any regrets and no one that isn’t in his position at that exact moment (a 19-year-old, in a highly competitive environment that had just minutes earlier fallen painfully short in what was to this point the biggest hockey moment of his life) should be judging him too harshly.

Or at all.

He is the one that put in the work, he is the one that competed, he is the one that has been on the losing end of these games on an international stage and has had to deal with the defeat.

We put athletes in an often times impossible, no-win situation when it comes to their emotions.

If the cameras had caught Lias Andersson sitting on the bench cracking a smile or laughing late in a loss he would be getting criticized for not caring enough.

This is a sports culture that has spent years and countless hours analyzing the body language of players like Jay Cutler or Phil Kessel and concluding they may not care about winning as much as we want them to because they’re not flipping over water coolers or breaking things when things are going poorly. Or because they just don’t “look” like they care enough for our own liking.

We always hear executives, or coaches, or analysts talk about how they want players that hate to lose more than they want to win. We demand to see passion and emotion, and as fans we want to know the players on the field, or the ice, or the basketball court care as much as we do.

But not everyone handles it the same way. Not everyone accepts it or deals with it the same way.

Some players look like emotionless zombies. That doesn’t mean the frustration and passion isn’t underneath the surface.

Lias Andersson showed you the raw passion and emotion on Friday night. All of it.

He clearly came into this tournament (his last chance to win gold at the tournament) with the only goal being a gold medal. He clearly did not want a medal for losing. Did he handle it in a way that most players would have? Or that any other player in a similar tournament has in the past? Absolutely not. But that’s kind of what was awesome about it.

You can’t have it both ways here.

You can’t demand to see passion and emotion from athletes and then be disgusted when you see it in its rawest form. Because that’s what hating to lose and not accepting anything other than victory looks like.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Predators place forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Nashville Predators have placed forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve with a lower-body injury and recalled forward Frederick Gaudreau from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals.

The Predators made the move Tuesday afternoon.

Arvidsson was helped off the ice Monday during practice, and The Tennessean reports he tested himself during Tuesday morning’s skate.

The forward ranks third on the Predators with 13 goals and fourth with 27 points. The Predators already have Filip Forsberg on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

Gaudreau has played 18 games with the Predators with three assists. He had 14 points in 21 games with the Admirals this season.

More AP NHL:

WATCH LIVE: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Tuesday night, as the New York Rangers host the Philadelphia Flyers at 7:00 p.m. ET.




Rick NashMika ZibanejadPavel Buchnevich
Mats ZuccarelloJ.T. Miller – Vinni Lettieri
Jimmy VeseyDavid DesharnaisPaul Carey
Michael Grabner – Peter Holland – Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonaghNick Holden
Brady SkjeiKevin Shattenkirk
Marc StaalSteven Kampfer

Startling goalie: Henrik Lundqvist

[Flyers look to push winning streak to five games against Rangers]


Claude GirouxSean CouturierTravis Konecny
Michael RafflValtteri FilppulaJakub Voracek
Jordan WealNolan PatrickWayne Simmonds
Taylor LeierScott LaughtonJori Lehtera

Ivan ProvorovShayne Gostisbehere
Robert HaggAndrew MacDonald
Brandon ManningRadko Gudas

Startling goalie: Brian Elliott


Golden Knights’ defense coming into focus with signings

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As the Vegas Golden Knights’ success gradually goes from shocking to accepted, there’s still the question of what this team might look like next season and beyond. Such questions are only natural when you consider all the key players who still need contract extensions.

Golden Knights management is chipping away at those questions regarding their defense in 2018-19, particularly this week.

On Monday, the Golden Knights signed local favorite and rugged defenseman Deryk Engelland to a one-year extension worth $1.5 million. (That deal includes $1M in potential performance bonuses, according to Cap Friendly.)

One day later, the team announced a two-year extension for Jon Merrill (pictured). The deal is for $2.75M overall, so it will make for a $1.375M cap hit in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

The Golden Knights now have five defensemen on their current roster who are signed through 2018-19, if not longer: Engelland, Merrill, Nate Schmidt, Brayden McNabb, and Brad Hunt. McNabb is locked up the longest, with a $2.5M cap hit kicking in next season and expiring after 2020-21.

The most interesting remaining defensemen to sort out are Colin Miller and Shea Theodore, both pending RFAs. The Golden Knights have been buying up blueliners at bargain rates, but Theodore and Miller could be tougher nuts to crack contracts-wise. (Two UFA defensemen Luca Sbisa and Clayton Stoner on IR.)

Quick look at Engelland and Merrill

Engelland, 35, has been one of the Golden Knights’ ice time leaders with 19:39 per night, collecting 13 points while limiting his time in the penalty box (16 PIM in 41 games) compared to his usual numbers. He’s not perfect, but it’s conceivable that he’ll be worth that minimal cost to Vegas, especially since he’s an ambassador for the still-new franchise.

While Vegas hopes Engelland can bring that veteran presence for another year, they’re likely banking on Merrill to be more effective at a cheap rate.

The 25-year-old has been dealing with injuries and other issues, limiting him to 14 games played.


These defensive signings aren’t as important as locking up Jonathan Marchessault, nor is it as crucial as making the right call with the likes of James Neal and David Perron. With Malcolm Subban and Marc-Andre Fleury seeing their deals expire after 2018-19, management will need to make some goaltending decisions not that long from now.

A little bit of greed can inspire players to go that extra mile and stay that much hungrier, yet it’s also comforting to sometimes have some answers. After this week, there’s some clarity on the blueline, even if some decisions still need to be made.

And, hey, the Golden Knights haven’t really locked themselves into bad contracts yet. Old teams could probably learn a thing or two from these new kids.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Johnny Gaudreau is playing best hockey of NHL career


Maybe it’s because Johnny Gaudreau has been a productive scorer since day one. Almost literally.

Gaudreau scored a goal in his first NHL game with the Calgary Flames, his only appearance in 2013-14. The slick, undersized forward then generated 24 goals and 64 points as a rookie in 2014-15, and really hasn’t missed a beat.

While there were plenty of questions heading into 2017-18 for Calgary – goaltending, Jaromir Jagr, depth on defense and offense – everyone just assumed Gaudreau would keep scoring. So perhaps that explains why people aren’t making much of a deal about Gaudreau scoring even more than usual.

As of Tuesday, Gaudreau is in a four-way tie for second in NHL scoring with 54 points.

After scoring two goals and six assists for eight points in four games, the Flames forward was named NHL’s first star of the week, ahead of teammate Mike Smith (also red-hot). His point streak actually extends into 2017, a stretch of seven games, five of which were multi-point (two goals, 11 assists for 13 points).

Gaudreau set career-highs in goals (30) and points (78) in 79 games back in 2015-16. While he’s at a solid goal-scoring clip of 15 so far this season, his playmaking is what might make this his best work. Gaudreau is averaging 1.2 points-per game, a pace of about 98 points during an 82-game season.

Upon hearing about Gaudreau’s All-Star nod about a week ago, Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan did a great job summarizing what makes him so effective.

“I think he gets the best looks in the National Hockey League,” Gulutzan said, via the Calgary Sun. “He puts himself into position every game to create and shoot. Just the way he navigates himself on the ice and can handle the puck, it’s pretty amazing. For not a big guy, he can strip guys of pucks and get those kind of opportunities, too. It’s a combination of speed, agility and high hockey I.Q. that allows him to do it. He’s our engine for generating offense.”

This goal Gaudreau scored against the Stars on Nov. 24 is a great example of his ability to “strip guys of pucks,” and why he’s such a nightmare to defend.

Gaudreau and the Flames are currently resting up on a bye week, and hopefully not getting too rusty, as Calgary owns the longest active winning streak in the NHL at seven games. Beginning on Saturday, the Flames will play six of their next seven games at home, so there’s a solid chance that they’ll keep their strong play going.

If so, the Flames – and Gaudreau – will be difficult to ignore.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.