The Sabres went limping into the All-Star break last night in Vancouver and now have 10 days off to regroup. Rather than bask in the negativity of the team’s inability to win consecutive games, let’s talk about something else notable that happened recently.
Former Buffalo Sabre Patrik Berglund recently did an interview in his native Sweden and opened up for the first time on the subject of his strange and sudden exile from Western New York.
Since it was well-documented that Berglund was upset with coming to Buffalo after the St. Louis Blues snaked him out of his no-movement clause, many fans including myself simply assumed that Berglund was upset and didn’t want to play here. Well, this was indeed the case, but not in the sense that we all thought.
In a telling and eye-opening discussion with Sweden’s Hockeypuls.se, Berglund revealed for the first time that his departure was an act of self-preservation, not selfishness. The 30-year-old explained that he had been struggling mentally since coming to Buffalo over the summer and wasn’t improving no matter how hard he tried. He had lost his desire to play hockey and also his identity, from what it seems. The only solution he saw was literally taking his puck and going home, and he did.
Sometimes doing what is best for yourself comes at the expense of others. Berglund did what he had to do, and though it did come at the expense of the Sabres, it’s still difficult to give him heat for it. It can be argued that, had the former first round pick of St. Louis gone to the Sabres brass and explained the situation, they’d have understood, but hindsight is also always 20/20.
It’s understandable now to see why Berglund acted as his did and it also explains why he was playing so poorly. However, it’s still tough to deny that his decision left Buffalo with no choice but to discipline him. The team suspended him indefinitely after he failed to report to Washington DC on December 15 and then placed him on irrevocable waivers after it became evident that he was not returning. Berglund did not blame the Sabres for their actions and agreed that he deserved it.
“I was suspended for disciplinary reasons, I didn’t show up for practice and a game,” he said in the interview. “It was a correct suspension, I didn’t know how to act in another way. I needed to get home, I needed a break from hockey and I needed help.”
Berglund appears to be at peace and that’s very good to see. He walked away from a decent chunk of change remaining on his contract, but most reasonable people value their mental health more than money. He said that he doesn’t plan on returning to hockey any time soon, but he doesn’t mind because he feels happy where he is. He apologized to the Sabres and their fans, but it appears there are no hard feelings.
“Personally, Patrik is a terrific guy,” head coach Phil Housley said yesterday in Vancouver.
It’s good that the saga with Berglund can now be put to rest and fans will probably view him more sympathetically now. It’s highly unlikely that he’ll ever wear a Sabres uniform again and it’s still unclear if he’ll even return to the NHL. But the Swede seems to be at peace with himself for the first time in a while, and that’s uplifting to see. Best wishes to Berglund in the future.