Before the Oilers left on their road trip, Oscar Klefbom stopped by the TSN 1260 studios to voice a commercial. When he was finished he joined Jason Strudwick and me on air for an impromptu interview.
We discussed a bit about hockey, but focused more on his family, Christmas, Volvos and uncovered which one of his teammates is the least fashion-conscience.
He was in studio the day after the Oilers defeated Colorado 6-3, when Connor McDavid had six points and Leon Draisaitl picked up five.
“You can’t get this two games in a row (points to player of game helmet) so that’s the only reason I’m wearing this,” laughs Klefbom. McDavid had it after hat trick in Anaheim. #Oilers
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) November 15, 2019
Jason Gregor: You joked about how the only reason you got the player of game helmet was because Connor McDavid couldn’t get it two games in a row. It must be pretty fun for you right now when you’re on the power play and you have #97 and #29 rolling like they were last night.
Oscar Klefbom: Oh yeah, it makes it easier for sure. Coming into the locker room after the game, you have three apples; you feel pretty good about yourself. And then you look to your right and Connor is sitting there with six points. But you know what, I’m pretty happy with the helmet. I’ve got to keep it for sure.
Jason Strudwick: It’s pretty crazy, but as a D-man it is nice when you get those, and I don’t want to sound disrespectful about what you did, but it was three pretty easy assists. They’re fantastic. It’s nice to get points — we feel good about ourselves when we get points — and it gives you a boost regardless of how you got them.
Klefbom: Absolutely, I totally agree. And some nights I don’t have any assists or any goals, but I feel really good about my game overall. And yesterday I was not really happy with my game overall but I got three assists. Everyone is happy and obviously we got two points.
Gregor: When you evaluate yourself are you a hard evaluator of your own game? And when you say you weren’t happy with your game, what areas of your game are you wanting to improve?
Kelfbom: I’m a pretty tough on my game. It is small things…going back for pucks and getting the puck out of our zone real quick, or making a solid first pass, or making the wrong read. Obviously, there’s always stuff that I can improve on and I want to be as perfect as I can be.
But obviously over here it’s a lot of focus from the media standpoint and from the fans and all of these fantasy hockey owners about whatever I’m doing… plus minus or points or whatever. But I can play a really solid game, be really happy about myself and even though I don’t have any points, or I might be a dash two or whatever, I can still feel good about myself and that’s really important I think.
Strudwick: I’ve seen you evolve from a guy who was drafted to now being a really important part of the backend of the Oilers. Was there a point where you started feeling comfortable and when did that happen?
Klefbom: It’s funny you brought that up because I was thinking the other day how it took me a long time before I felt comfortable being on the power play, and handling that responsibility, because you have a lot of guys that want to be on the power play.
And obviously like you said you can get some points when you are on the power play, especially with Connor and Leon [Draisaitl] and [Ryan Nugent-Hopkins] Nuge and those guys. But it took me a long time to actually feel comfortable. I felt a lot of pressure and it’s easy to just go out there and give the puck to Connor or Leon or whatever, but I feel like I want to be out there for a reason and be a threat as well. They put me on the power play for a reason and obviously I want to continue to be a threat out there even though we have some of the best players in the world.
Gregor: How have you improved as a powerplay player?
Klefbom: The players in the league who kill penalties are really good right now; they’re so good at being in the shooting lane. So for a defenseman or a quarterback as we call it, you have to have some poise on the blueline to create seams, to create the shooting line and to create ice for the other players. Obviously, take the shot when it’s there. So it takes some time and obviously when you play with the new players, Connor and Leon, you want to make them the best players they can be on the ice. They’re really good with the puck, so I want to keep it really simple on my part. I think I have improved on moving to areas to receive the puck, but also slight movement that pulls the penalty killer over and that allows me to give the puck to the forwards when they have more space and time.
Strudwick: Since you’ve been with the Edmonton Oilers, is this the heaviest contingent of Swedish players on the team?
Klefbom: Yeah this is the best year by far. There are five of us including Willy Lagesson in Bakersfield.
Strudwick: That’s a lot of Swedes. Do you have Julmust parties?
Klefbom: Ah not really, not yet.
Gregor: What kind of parties?
Strudwick: Go ahead (to Oscar).
Klefbom: No you take this one. I don’t even know what you mean (laughs).
Strudwick: I’m not sure, I didn’t want to bring up my stats from when I was in Sweden, but I was pretty dominating, I’m sure everybody is still talking my time there… no it’s true. Oscar is going to make this weird but anyways, Julmust, it’s a sugary drink, a pop I guess, and it comes at Christmas time and …
Klefbom: … Easter.
Strudwick: Am I saying that right?
Strudwick: Julmust. I almost had it.
Gregor: If you don’t know Oscar, Struds is really good at enunciating names (laughs).
Klefbom: (laughs) Julmust parties, I had no idea, and now I know.
Strudwick: Can you find it here, because I know where to get it.
Klefbom: Yeah, IKEA. We’re just waiting for it to come out, we’re going to be there and we’re going to buy… a lot of it.
Gregor: Is there a place in Edmonton that has Swedish delicacies where you go out for dinner?
Klefbom: Not really. Where I live downtown that’s probably the only place right now (smiles).
Gregor: Oh yeah, chef Klefbom?
Klefbom: Yes, well, I like to be in the kitchen for sure. I’m very interested in food overall so I spend a lot of time there.
Strudwick: What about the, what’s that one princess cake? Or what do they call that?
Klefbom: It’s called like… you can call it princess cake back home. Yeah.
Strudwick: Because when I was there, that was good. Really sugary, really good. Can you make that?
Klefbom: Ah, no, that’s probably my girlfriend’s.
Strudwick: So you’re really talking yourself up and you’re maybe not quite that level?
Klefbom: I’m more of the steak, fish, main course guy. I leave the deserts to the others. Julmust and princess cakes Struddy, that’s for you (laughs).
CARS AND SONGS…
Gregor: You just voiced a commercial for Volvo of Edmonton. Volvos, they’re big in Sweden, so did you get one to feel closer to home?
Klefbom: You know what, the last couple of years, they’ve come out with some new models. And they look pretty good. Volvo has been very big back home for many, many years now and they put a lot of efforts in and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, big soccer player, he’s like the franchise guy back for it. He drove one a couple of years ago. I like it, it’s good. It’s nice to stay with the Swedish connection here, so it’s good. The guys at Volvo of Edmonton are great.
Gregor: Do you carpool to practice? Do you have to pick up Larsson? Are you guys that close?
Klefbom: Yeah, it depends where you live. I live in the same area as Jujhar Khaira so he usually goes with me or I go with him. Coming home late from road trips or whatever it’s nice to just go with somebody.
Gregor: Now I want you to put on that head set for a second. Dustin Nielson from our TSN morning show has made goal songs for each player. Have you heard your goal, do you know you have a goal song?
Klefbom: The one that I had a couple of years ago?
Gregor: Let’s hear it and see if this is the one. (Song plays)
Klefbom: This is the best song of all time (laughs).
Strudwick: Would you be in favour of each player having their own goal song when they scored, is that something that you think that most players would be interested in?
Klefbom: Ah… um yeah. I would like that. You know what? I’ll probably pick this one that I just heard.
Klefbom: (Laughs) I’ll go with the real version though.
Gregor: Oh yeah, that’s good. I honestly feel like fans would love it.
Klefbom: I think so too.
Gregor: And when a guy who doesn’t score very often finally scores, guys on the bench would have fun with it — ‘Oh that’s his song.’
Strudwick: It would be like, ‘Quiet on the bench, we’ve got to hear what this guy’s song is!’ I don’t even know what my song would have been.
Gregor: It would be ABBA for sure.
Strudwick: Well I do love ABBA.
Gregor: Well I know that it wouldn’t be a Celine Dion song, that’s for sure. Oscar, if you don’t know, she snubbed him at a party once.
Klefbom: Oh my.
Gregor: Have you ever been snubbed?
Strudwick: By a superstar.
Klefbom: No, not really.
Strudwick: Like by a Grammy winning superstar like Celine Dion?
Klefbom: (Laughs) Not even close, not yet.
NICKNAMES AND FASHION…
Gregor: Earlier this year JAMES NEAL’s song got a lot of play. He’s been a very good addition to your team…
Strudwick: Do you guys call him Real Deal?
Klefbom: Yeah, we do.
Strudwick: So people say Real Deal?
Klefbom: Sometimes. I don’t know if I should say this here, but he actually had some problems with, something with a pimple on his face or something right now so the boys are all over him. He’s pretty grumpy right now (laughs).
Strudwick: Yeah, he’s a pretty good looking guy. I could see this troubling him. He looks after himself. Who is the best-groomed guy on the team? I played with Henrik Lundqvist and he spent a lot of time on his looks.
Klefbom: Um… Neal is up there for sure. He spends a lot of time on his suits, and overall how he looks and he dresses.
Gregor: Who spends the least amount of time? Who doesn’t care at all about their looks or fashion?
Klefbom: Nuge. It’s hopeless so you should just…
Strudwick: That’s surprising, he always looks quite nice.
Klefbom: He looks alright, he actually picked it up the last couple of years, but when I first came in and met him the first couple of years it was just free clothes from CCM and he didn’t care.
Strudwick: Are there any other nationalities or rivals in the dressing room who are rivalling the Swedes? Because I will admit, for average looking guys, most Swedes dress really well.
Klefbom: Yeah, I mean it’s been better overall from the rest of the guys, I think. Like you said, European style is usually better than the North American style, overall. But it’s actually been better lately for the North American guys. But over here, I mean let’s be honest, it’s (clothes) just too big. It’s too saggy. It’s too much…
Gregor: Even the sweatshirt that you’re wearing right now. You like everything form fitting.
Klefbom: Perfect fit. (Laughs)
GAME PREP AND FAMILY…
Gregor: It is 4:46 in the afternoon the day before you play Dallas. What’s your mental plan going into a game?
Klefbom: The season, I mean 82 games, you cannot focus on hockey all of the time. For me I’ve learned over the years not to think about hockey when I don’t have to. Obviously, it’s great to be engaged and obviously you can like hockey and you can watch some other teams play and all of that. But for me personally I try to stay away as much as I can because it’s a long season and if you want to be 100% engaged and focused on the games, and when you come into the rink I think that’s its better to stay away from it when you can.
Gregor: What does Oscar Klefbom like to do away from the rink? We heard that you like to cook, what else do you like to do?
Klefbom: So, I usually keep in touch with all of my friends and family back home and obviously with the time change it’s pretty hard. So right after practice I usually go home and see what it’s like back home and talk to friends and family and then straight to the grocery store, get ready for dinner.
Gregor: You just finished the Moms trip. How was that?
Klefbom: That was great. First time for her for the moms’ trip. My dad, obviously we had fathers’ trip twice and he loved it. It was my mom’s turn and I was really happy that she could make it and it’s great for the whole organization. It’s a lot of good energy and it’s special to play in front of your mom.
Gregor: How different was a mom trip compared to a Dads trip?
Klefbom: (Laughs) It’s different. It’s very different. I think for the moms it doesn’t really matter if we play good or bad, they’re the same. They’re there for us, they support us. Our dad, or at least my dad is very engaged. He coached hockey back home, he likes the sport himself. So, he’s engaged and obviously he wants to see us win and do well so if we play a bad game or whatever, obviously he wants to see us win, so he’s not too happy when we lose.
Strudwick: He must be pretty happy this year?
Klefbom: Oh yeah, so far so good. We’re off to a good start.
Gregor: You never get to go home for Christmas, where the North American players, many of them, even if they go home for two days, they get to go home. Your family is coming here this year for Christmas. Your parents and your sister. How important is that for you and how much more special is Christmas going to be this year?
Klefbom: It’s very important to me. My family means a lot and they’ve been there throughout my whole career, even back home in Sweden they were always there. And it’s tough, I mean, to be away eight, nine, hopefully, more months a year from the family and friends back home, it means a lot when they can come over and spend some time. I’m very happy that they come over now.
Strudwick: Would it be too much to ask your mom and dad to bring over a case of real Julmust from Sweden?
Klefbom: We can probably solve that.
Strudwick: I’ll pay for it!
Klefbom: (Laughs) I’ll get it. Oh yeah, for sure, no worries.
Gregor: What is a Swedish cooking tradition at Christmas?
Strudwick: What are those little fish?
Klefbom: The pickled herring. Yeah, we have a lot of different kind of cured salmon, pickled herring, a lot of fish overall. The Swedish meatballs, can never go wrong with that. We don’t really do turkey, but we do have ham and stuff but overall it is different.
Gregor: And is it the same where you go to bed and Santa brings you presents in the morning?
Klefbom: First off, we celebrate the 24th so that’s probably the biggest.
Strudwick: What’s Santa called in Sweden?
Gregor: Jewel-tom-ten Struddy.
Strudwick: Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Gregor: Thanks for stopping in to the studio after voicing your commercial for Volvo of Edmonton. Best of luck and enjoy Christmas with the family.
Klefbom: Thanks for having me. That was fun.
Klefbom has a good, subtle sense of humour. During the break after the interview we talked about his family and he was so pumped to get to spend Christmas with them. He was fired up. He also spoke about wanting to keep improving on the powerplay, and how learning the tendencies of the other guys on the PP has made it much easier.
They are more in sync than before, and he works a lot on the little things. How much of a difference sliding over a few inches to his right or left can alter how the high penalty kill players react, and that opens up more options for half wall players. His main responsibilities might not show up on the scoresheet as often on the PP, but Strudwick spoke about how the movement from Klefbom will really alter the penalty kill. He feels it shouldn’t be overlooked as to why the PP is doing so well. It isn’t the main aspect, but an important piece to having one of the best powerplays in the NHL.
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