Eje Lindstrom

This photo is of an ol' time Swedish player named Erling "Eje" Lindstrom. I had never heard of him before, but once I saw this photo, I simply had to know all about him.

I turned to the Society for International Hockey Research where on the internet discussion mailing list I was introduced to a fellow named Krister Ericsson. He kindly sent me a a lot of translated information on Eje Lindstrom. This profile would not be possible if it were not for Krister.

Eje Lindstrom was born in Sunsvall on August 9th, 1937. He was always tiny - so tiny that  as a kid his jersey was too big and interfered with his gloves, and he had trouble holding a hockey stick. He started on defense but soon settled up front on left wing, where he would become a star as pro. He also starred in soccer as a youth, admitting he may have been even better on the pitch than on the ice. He eventually had to choose between the two sports, opting to play for the Swedish national hockey team rather than the national junior soccer team.

Lindstrom's met his lifelong best friend as a kid - long time teammate Bert Ola  Nordlander. They grew up on the same street, and went to star with the Swedish national team together.

Eje's idol growing up in was Ingvar "Tjotta" Naslund, the father of Montreal Canadiens great Mats Naslund. "Tjotta" one day gave Lindstrom his first job after he dropped out of high school.

But Lindstrom's future was not in the Naslund workshop, but rather on the ice.  From 1953 through 1960 he starred with Wifsta/Ostrand IF in the top Swedish league. By the age of 22 he was a playing coach. That would serve him well in coming years.

Three times Lindstrom played in the World Championships. His career highlight came in 1957 when Sweden won gold in Moscow.

Playing on a line with Garvis Maatta and the great Sven Tumba, Eje scored 2 of 8 goals in the gold medal clinching game against the Russians.

"I scored two goals and assisted on one in the 4-4 tied against the Russians and that was enough for a gold medal. If it had been today you would be a national hero, but back then only a couple of reporters from the press were there," he said.

Strangely, Lindstrom was dropped from the national team in 1960 prior to the Olympics, in favor of a player named Einar Granath.

Krister Ericsson describes Lindstrom as "small and very speedy skater. Not a physical player. The best description may be small and weak but very well conditioned and technical.

After being cut from the national team Lindstrom became more and more focused on coaching. In the 1960s he coached both Grums and AIK as  well as the junior national team. In 1970 he was even offered the job as national team head coach, but he walked away from the dream offer in a dispute with Helge Berglund, chairman of the Swedish Hockey Federation. They wanted Eje to coach, but they wanted full control on who was named to the team, not the coach.

Some of Lindstrom's prized pupils include Lennart "Lill-Strimma" Svedberg, Inge Hammarstrom, Lars-Erik  Sjoberg, Christer and Tommy Abrahamsson, Willy Lindstrom and Dan Labraaten.

Lindstrom coached until he was 39 years old. It was then that he turned to working in the school system. He also worked as a salesman for an electrical installation company later in life.

Special thanks to Krister Ericsson.

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