Mattias Sjogren skated with the Capitals for the first time since training camp after being recalled on Tuesday, and despite an acrimonious parting with the team last fall, the Swedish center said he was excited to be back even as a practice player during the postseason.
Sjogren’s recall came as somewhat of a surprise considering the circumstances surrounding his departure for Europe in November after he failed the make the roster out of camp.
He played in 19 games with Hershey in the AHL before exercising a clause in his contract that allowed him go back to Sweden, and that decision at the time clearly rankled Capitals GM George McPhee.
“It’s probably a mistake. He needs to develop here and wasn’t prepared to make the commitment to do so,” McPhee said on Nov. 30. “When we signed him, we told him we had a job available and promised him we’d give him a look this year.
“His training camp wasn’t good enough to keep him at the start of the year and he was developing okay, but I guess he got impatient and decided to go home. And if you’re going to quit on us you might as well go.”
After practice today, Sjogren recounted the story of how his agent, Ritch Winter, spoke to the Capitals after his Swedish team lost in the playoffs, and Washington said it had interest in bringing him back.
Sjogren said he received a phone call two days ago, packed his belongings and departed for the United States.
“I don’t know if I was surprised,” he said. “I felt like I was very happy. It was a great opportunity to come here. I haven’t met the new coaches yet, so it’s great for me to come here and to meet them.”
Sjogren said he did not expect to get into a playoff game, and Capitals Coach Dale Hunter indicated the same during his news conference at Kettler before the club left for Boston.
Hunter did not address any perceived tension between the player and the front office, but Sjogren said he has made peace with his choice.
“It’s hard to compare,” Sjogren said when asked if it was a good or bad move to go back to Sweden. “I don’t know how it would look if I had stayed. I made a decision, and I have to stick with it.”