Edmonton Journal article (An agitator will skill, Samuelsson follows in dad's footsteps)April 28 2012 at 6:06 AM
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|N. W. Bruin (Login NW_Bruin_GM)|
An agitator with skill, Samuelsson follows in dad’s footsteps
Oil Kings forward has 13 points in 11 playoff games, relishes bumping, grinding role
By Jim Matheson, edmontonjournal.com
April 28, 2012
Moose Jaw Warriors’ Cody Beach checks Edmonton Oil Kings’ Henrik Samuelsson during first period WHL Eastern Conference Final game action in Edmonton on Friday April 27, 2012.
Photograph by: Larry Wong , edmontonjournal.com
EDMONTON - After the first period on Friday night at Rexall Place, Ulf Samuelsson was asked how he handled coaching his son, Henrik, on the Swedish Elite League MoDo team if he was doing something wrong.
“I’d kick his butt just like he was at home,” laughed the former NHL defenceman.
Once a father, always a father.
But his 18-year-old son, who was born in Scottsdale, Ariz., isn’t making many mistakes in his first playoff series with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He has 13 points in 11 games and set up the third goal by centre Curtis Lazar in Friday night’s 4-1 Eastern Conference final series-clinching win over the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Henrik, playing right wing on a line with Lazar and Stephane Legault, was doing what he’s done most nights: He’s hard on the puck, stirs up trouble and makes people get angry at him.
Samuelsson also sent Lazar in alone with a nice feed to give the Oil Kings some breathing room in the second period when the Warriors were putting considerable heat on the home team.
Physically, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Ulf was a miserable son of a gun, who played alongside Kevin Lowe, Oilers president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe in New York with the Rangers.
It’s tougher walking that line between right and wrong now than it was in Ulf’s days, however
“That line’s a lot thinner now than when I played. It was a big line you could walk right across sometimes. Now they call it (the game) tighter, but it’s always good to find players who can play below that line,” said Ulf, who used to be the associate coach for the Phoenix Coyotes, working with Dave Tippett before he opted to return to Sweden this year to coach his own club team.
On Friday, he saw his son up close and personal for the first time in a Western Hockey League game. He has watched plenty of Oil Kings games on his computer in Ornskoldsvik, between coaching gigs for the MoDo team that Markus Naslund and Peter Forsberg run.
“It was pretty special to have him here. I haven’t seen him in a while. It was great to see him and have him in the stands supporting me,” said Henrik, who’ll likely be selected in the first or second round of the June NHL entry draft because he’s what every team needs — an agitator. He has a penchant for bumping, grinding, disturbing, slashing a little, get a glove in somebody’s face. Mix that with a dash of skill and you have an NHLer.
“He’s like Corey Perry was in junior in London,” said former NHL general manager Craig Button, who was at Friday’s game, but is now doing television commentary and putting out a Craig’s List in which he rates the top prospects going into the draft.
“Perry? That’s a good comparison,” said Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal.
Nobody’s saying Henrik’s going to be Perry, who won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player last season, but he’s aggravating.
He gets into some trouble, but that’s who he is, and what he is. He started these playoffs with a two-game suspension for low-bridging a Red Deer Rebels player in last game of the regular season.
“I like the physical aspects of the game so this series played into my court,” said Samuelsson.
“I don’t really care if the other team likes me. If they hate me ... Means I’m doing something right,” he said.
Only Lazar (16 points) has more playoff production than Samuelsson this spring.
His skating has to get a little better, but he’s a load.
“He’s your typical power forward who plays with an edge and gets under other people’s skin. He’s only getting better and better,” said Laxdal.
“I’m not sure where we’d be without him,” said Laxdal, who has him on the wing, but he might have him at centre except that there are too many players at that position. Same with Michael St. Croix, who’s playing on the wing now.
Being an agitator means you sometimes have to back it up by fighting, but Laxdal says he’s up for that.
“I’m sure next year you’ll see him drop his gloves a few more times,” said Laxdal.
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
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