Swedish ice hockey team faces strong Russia

The Swedes face a tough test in Saturday's ice hockey world championships semi-final against 2012 winners Russia, who are seeking redemption for their Sochi Olympic flop.

Swedish ice hockey team faces strong Russia
Sweden's Gustav Nyquist goes up against Belarus in the qualifying rounds. Photo: TT

The Swedish squad came to Minsk with ten players who had never played in the world championship before. The team struggled throughout the preliminary round before winning a place in the last four by edging out hosts Belarus 3-2.

This hard-fought win seems to have boosted the Swedes' confidence ahead of the dangerous semi-final confrontation with the Russians.

"They have those two superstars of course, but also a great team," Swede Gustav Nyquist, a Detroit Red Wings right winger, said of Russians Alexander Ovechkin and Yevgeny Malkin.

"But we're good too and have shown what we can do. It'll be a tight game. The results in the quarter-finals goes to show that any team of the four remaining can win this."

Russia, the only team with a perfect record at the event, look favourites to win with strong performances in all areas of the ice, including defence. The team has allowed just seven goals in eight matches.

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Swedish league’s ban on NHL players ruled illegal

The Swedish Competition Authority (Konkurrensverket) Swedish Hockey League’s ban on offering short-term contracts to lock-out affected NHL players for short-term contracts is in breach of competition laws.

Swedish league's ban on NHL players ruled illegal

The North American National Hockey League (NHL) season has yet to start due to an owner-imposed lockout, leaving many players seeking other options, including playing in Sweden.

While some players have already signed deals with Sweden’s second division league, the Hockeyallsvenskan, NHL players are currently prohibited from joining teams in the top league, the Elitserien.

Previously, the league decided that its 12 teams could not offer short-term contracts to NHL players.

However, after reviewing the arrangement, the Competition Authority has ruled that the NHL player ban is invalid.

According to the competition body, the league has no right to dictate to member teams whether or not they can offer contracts to NHL players.

“The Hockey League’s decision can be likened to a cartel. The clubs’ joint decision to boycott certain players is not permitted under competition rules,” Swedish Competition Authority general counsel Per Karlsson said in a statement on Friday.

“Each club must be able to make their own independent decisions about investments.”

The Competition Authority furthermore warned that if the league fails to lift the ban, it would be fined 20 million kronor ($3.06 million).

The agency emphasized that the decision is only temporary, but will remain in force pending the completion of it continuing investigation into the matter.

The NHL lockout began on September 15th this year after the collective bargaining agreement expired. The season was scheduled to commence on October 11th and the pre-season has already been cancelled.

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