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The Coach’s Challenge: Robert Ohlsson is building Djurgårdens IF into a contender

Our latest conversation with a European coach features a man determined to restore his home team to one of the SHL’s best.

Djurgården has moved into the SHL playoffs, and a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lukas Vejdemo’s old mentor, Robert Ohlsson, for a discussion about coaching, hockey IQ, and Swedish coaches in the NHL.

When the season started, many looked to Djurgården as a potential champion. When they added Axel Johnson-Fjällby to the team, from the Washington Capitals, they became everyone’s favourite to take home the Le Mat trophy at the end of the season.

However other teams had a say in it, and Djurgården took time to settle in. The close SHL table didn’t help, and in the span of a few weeks Djurgården went from second in the league to outside an automatic playoff spot, only to return to form once again. They are going into the playoffs as a fourth seed, but with every chance to take home the title.

Mr. Ohlsson left his job as an assistant coach with Frölunda, where he coached Artturi Lehkonen and won a championship, for a position with his favourite team with the goal to build it up to its former glory. It’s a daring mission, and one that Mr. Ohlsson is set on completing.

Djurgården has 16 championship banners hanging from the rafters, but the last came in 2001, and fans are getting a bit restless. A chance to use his experience from Frölunda and build a team fit for the modern fast-paced game was an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up.

The interview is part of an ongoing series where we get a chance to listen to the thought process of up-and-coming coaches in Europe to understand their way of thinking, building and developing a team.

[iTunes]