Tobias Enstrom is a talented Swedish defenseman, who you'd expect would want to represent his proud hockey nation at the Olympic Winter Games. While he may in fact want to play, Enstrom told reporters he informed Team Sweden that he will skip the 2014 Olympics to focus on the Jets.
"The roster is not set but I sat down with the national team coach [Par Marts] a couple of weeks ago; he came to visit me here," Enstrom said. "First of all it was a hard decision to make but I decided to not play on the national team. I just felt that I want to focus on Winnipeg here and the team and really push for the playoffs. I want to take that time to rest and just be healthy."
Though Enstrom did play for Sweden at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, there's no guarantee he would have made the team this year with its rather deep defensive group. He certainly would have been a strong candidate with his seven points in 14 games and solid puck-moving capabilities.
At only 28, Enstrom still should be in the prime of his career, which is why pulling himself out of consideration for an Olympic spot is rather puzzling.
Enstrom has dealt with injury troubles over the last three seasons, though, having missed more than 20 games in each of the last two campaigns.
"I just didn't feel 100 percent," Enstrom said. "I want to focus on Winnipeg, the playoffs. It was a tough decision but moving on here, get that out of my head and move on with Winnipeg. It's going to be good.”
It's pretty rare for a player in hockey to choose club over country, especially when that club is creeping out of contention rather early this season.
There are some extenuating circumstances here, though. If Enstrom doesn't feel he can go, it's admirable to tell Sweden not to waste their time now. However, if Enstrom feels like he's getting back to full strength when February rolls around, hopefully this isn't something he will regret later.