Bruins

How a trip back home to Sweden put Joakim Nordstrom back on track

(Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Joakim Nordstrom is used to taking some punishment out on the ice.

A key cog on Boston’s fourth line, Nordstrom was often a magnet for pucks during the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Final last spring, blocking 21 blasts that sailed his way over the course of the postseason.

And while the emotional sting from last June’s crushing result hasn’t dulled more than a year later, the tenacious forward’s physical state was also in rough shape by the time Boston cleared out its lockers and looked ahead to the 2019-20 campaign.

One of those 21 blocked shots left its mark on the Swede, fracturing Nordstrom’s foot and forcing the winger to spend most of the club’s already shortened summer in a boot.

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Already behind schedule after missing Boston’s training camp back in September, Nordstrom’s attempt at playing catch-up was often interrupted by a myriad of bad breaks this season.

Along with nagging back injury, an infection also sidelined the versatile skater through the first few months of the new campaign, while complications from an allergic reaction also kept him out of game action during the winter.

Even though he still managed to log minutes in 48 games this season, Nordstrom's extended stretch of bad breaks forced him to spend most of his second year in Boston mired in a stop-and-go cycle — a frustrating reality for a player that prides himself on gutting through the aches and pains that come with the territory as a hockey player.

Still, weeks of inactivity and rehab earlier this season clearly don't hold a candle to Nordstrom's current predicament — self-quarantining in his Boston apartment after over three months away from NHL hockey.

Nordstrom, who is hoping to join his teammates back on the ice at Warrior Ice Arena next week, doesn't expect any issues when it comes the mandatory safety protocols put in place. After spending a few months back home in Sweden, isolation back in the U.S. was a necessary requirement, with the forward already returning three negative tests for COVID-19 since arriving stateside. A fourth test, scheduled for Friday, stands as the final hurdle before getting the green light to return to Warrior.

 

Even though restrictions in Sweden were much more lax when compared to the U.S. — and Massachusetts, especially — Nordstrom didn't spend the spring shaking off any added rust by skating at any rink near his hometown of Stockholm. By the time Nordstrom and his girlfriend decided to head back to Europe, time was not on their side — with the B's winger leaving his gear back in Boston and only flying with carry-on luggage and his dog, of course.

But even with the stringent regimen of testing now on the docket — coupled with the lack of on-ice work back in Sweden — Nordstrom was quick to note that taking such a trek back home was exactly what the beleaguered forward needed, especially with playoff hockey now back on the horizon.