Mr. Monday: Fabian Brunnstrom

by Chelsea

This week, Fabian Brunnstrom topped our SHR +/– with +16 on ice (second only to Stephane Robidas and Mike Modano, each at +19) and second to none with +7 off ice points.

Most of his points, for us, came off his hat trick win over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday. Before that game, he had become the much-hyped rookie that had yet to see regular season ice. He coined the term flop-isode in preseason, and earned the nickname “Bunny”.

That game, however, gave us more than just a win and a mark in history. It allowed us to see the beautiful, clean, efficient hockey that this player is capable of. He didn’t just score, he did what we’d been waiting for the veterans to do; he parked himself in front of the net and capitalized on opportunities.

Before that game, the most I knew about Brunnstrom was that part of why he’d chosen Dallas over other teams like the Red Wings or Canadiens was that we’d offered him a chance to play in the NHL right off the bat. I mistakenly assumed that this made him a bit of a Swedish diva. Listening to him try and downplay his own success during the 10/15/08 game, I realized I’d been wrong.

Very, very wrong. In the October issue of Impact! Magazine, there’s an article on Brunnstrom and all the hype that’s surrounded his name recently. In the piece, he comes across as genuine, honest, and humble. The part I was most surprised to read was that, just three years ago, our Bunny was working at a Burger King:

This is a late-blooming NHL player who took a job on the side to help him keep developing as a hockey player. The job? Packing burgers between buns and serving the public at Burger King for three hours each day after practice and before games.

On his path to the NHL, he nearly signed with the Vancouver Canucks, but GM Dave Nonis was fired before the deal went through. The Detroit Red Wings wanted him, but their depth level with forwards meant Brunnstrom wouldn’t have much chance to shine. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, and Ottowa Senators all had their eyes on him as well. In the end, though, it was the Dallas Stars who Brunnstrom picked to start his NHL career with.

In preseason with the Stars, he looked nervous, hesitant, and unable to stand up on his skates without falling. We scratched our heads, worrying about whether or not he’d be the sensation in North American hockey that he was in European hockey. Once again, our foresight here was lacking. A late-bloomer in the big picture, it just took Brunnstrom a little while to warm up to our way of playing.

Watching him in practice brought us hope for his skill; while Steve Ott, Trevor Daley, and James Neal were goofing off in the corner, Brunnstrom was eyes-to-the-ice, practicing his puck handling skills with unexpected focus. He seemed able to snake the puck away from anyone, in a quiet, unassuming sort of way.

After practice, he was one of the many players to walk through an autograph line for the fans. He took his time and signed things carefully, which resulted in the prettiest signature I’d ever seen from a hockey player. He was friendly, quiet, and once again not the needy narcissist I’d expected.

Of course, his debut brought an explosion of attention, as he became one of only three players to ever score a hat trick in their first career game. Again, he tried to limit the hype, crediting nice passes and good timing for his goals. You can’t overlook, though, that at this point he’s got four goals in three games, and has played consistently clean in a team that is struggling to clean up their sloppy game.

After hearing about Sean Avery and his costume trunk of made-up stories so often, hearing from Fabian Brunnstrom has been a nice change.

Stars head coach Dave Tippett had this to say about him:

“I’ve been very impressed with how respectful he is, to the process, the league, his teammates,” Tippett said. “He’s gone out every day and worked hard. Everything we’ve seen so far is positive. The next step is get him into games, see what he can do.”

So, I was wondering who Fabian Brunnstrom was before he became the extremely-hyped Swedish hockey dreamboat/Tiebreaker Bunny.

We know he worked at Burger King. We know that during the 2005-06 year, he played in the third-highest Swedish league. In 2006-07, Brunnstrom won the Swedish Division 1 scoring title with 73 points (37-36) in 41 games. Two years later and he’s on the road to becoming rookie of the year material in the NHL.

What elevates someone from barely a speck on the hockey big picture to a portrait of potential?

According to this article, dedication. Brunnstrom spent mornings working on his game, alone, before practice.

“It was dark when I arrived so I had to turn on all the lights first and then push out the nets,’’ he said. “I just practiced my stickhandling one day, my shot the next and then my skating. It was a little bit of everything actually.’’

Given that I don’t read Swedish, it’s been very hard to get information about Brunnstrom from before the NHL began eyeballing him as the year’s hottest contract. I did find this garbled translation of what would probably be a very informative article if translation tools didn’t fail miserably. Apparently, Bunny plays guitar.

Back to hockey…

Skill needs no translation, thus I provide you with this video of Brunnstrom highlights.

And now, to finish off this post, can I get an “Awwwww, Bunnnnnyy”?

Bunny, outside of Löfbergs Lila Arena, in 2007.

Bunny, outside of Löfbergs Lila Arena, in 2007.

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2 Responses to “Mr. Monday: Fabian Brunnstrom”

  1. I like Brunnstrom a lot! I know he won’t live up to the hype that everyone placed on him, but I think he can contribute a lot to the team. Plus he is just so cute in interviews!

    Amy

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