Dahlen To Coach at Frolunda in Sweden
Thursday, 05.29.2008 / 11:43 AM / Feature
By Dallas Stars Staff
After two seasons as a Dallas Stars assistant coach and one as a scout for the club, Ulf Dahlen signed a three-year contract on Tuesday to become the new head coach of the Frolunda Hockey Club in the Swedish Elite League.
It will be the first head coaching opportunity for Dahlen, who focused his efforts while with the Stars on the play of the club’s forwards and on the power play. He was also Dallas’ “eye-in-the-sky” coach, relaying information down to the bench from the press box. As an assistant coach for Sweden in 2003-04, helped lead the national team to a runner-up finish in the 2004 World Championships and a quarterfinal berth in the 2004 World Cup.
“I love the game and you always want to climb the ladder, and this is a great opportunity,” said Dahlen. “To me, the only job that could possibly be better would be as a head coach in the NHL. I know that is going to take time and I know I’ll need to take some steps before that. My family is on board with going back to Sweden and I’m really excited about this.”
Based in Goteborg, Sweden’s second-largest city, Frolunda HC was founded in 1938 and has a decorated history in the Elitserien, the nation’s top league. Frolunda has won the Swedish Elite League championship three times – 1965, 2003 and 2005 – and plays in a modern, 12,000-seat arena that closely resembles Calgary’s Pengrowth Saddledome.
Frolunda HC reached the Elitserien Finals in 2006, losing in six games, but has since struggled to ninth- and sixth- place finishes in the 12-team league and has been through three head coaches the last three seasons.
“I really couldn’t pick a better place to go to in Sweden right now,” said Dahlen, a native of Ostersund, which is eight hours north of Goteborg. “They are re-structuring the organization to follow an NHL model and they are building a brand-new practice facility, like the one we have in Frisco. They have been selling out every night, 12,000 people, despite underachieving for a few years. They are really pushing to get back to the top and it’s a really good organization.”
Dahlen admits that a head-coaching job in the NHL would be his ultimate dream, and he is genuinely thankful for the opportunity he’s had with the Stars in propelling his coaching career to the next step.
“I appreciate the opportunity I’ve had here in Dallas for the last two years,” said Dahlen. “Dave Tippett has been really good to me, and I learned a lot from him and the whole staff. He gave me the power play to work with and I really dug into that. It’s been a great learning experience. When you’re done playing, you think you’re ready to be a head coach right away, but it takes time. I feel like I’ve prepared myself to take the next step and you want to get to the top one day, which is the NHL. To get there, you have to win and prove yourself somewhere, and this is a top organization in Sweden and in Europe.”
|Loui Eriksson in 2004|
With 43 NHL draft picks in its history, Frolunda HC ranks third among all European teams, trailing only CSKA Moscow and Dynamo Moscow. The most notable former Frolunda Indian is Daniel Alfredsson, the current captain of the Ottawa Senators, who was selected in the sixth round of the 1994 Entry Draft. In fact, Dahlen’s Frolunda club will host Alfredsson’s Senators in a preseason exhibition in advance of Ottawa’s NHL Premiere games vs. Pittsburgh in Stockholm on October 4 and 5.
Defenseman Calle Johansson, who skated in more than 1,100 career NHL games for Buffalo, Washington and Toronto, is a product of the Goteborg club, as are current NHL players: Fredrik Sjostrom and Christian Backman of the New York Rangers, P.J. Axelsson of the Boston Bruins, Kristian Huselius of the Calgary Flames and Alexander Steen of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Dahlen played 369 games during two stints with the Stars organization from 1989-1994 and 2002-2003, and was a member of the Dallas Stars’ inaugural team in 1993-94 as well as the Minnesota North Stars squad that reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1991. He posted 279 points (140 goals and 149 assists) in a Stars sweater, and added 20 points (four goals and 16 assists) in 40 Stanley Cup Playoff games as a Star.
In 966 career NHL games over 14 seasons with the New York Rangers, Minnesota/Dallas, San Jose, Chicago and Washington, Dahlen recorded 301 goals and 354 assists for 655 points. He was the Rangers’ first-round pick (No. 7 overall) in the 1985 Entry Draft and skated for Team Sweden at the 1998 Olympics, the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, three World Championship tournaments (1993, 1998, 1999) and the 1991 Canada Cup.