So Long Per-Johan

PJ Axelsson

Boston.com is reporting that today marks the end of the road for long time Bruin PJ Axelsson. After playing all 797 of his NHL games wearing the spoked B, Axelsson will head back to his native country of Sweden to play for his former pro team, Frolunda, of the Swedish Elite League. Axelsson, who was a free agent starting July 1, was not offered an extension by the Bruins after his contract expired. This should not come to much of a surprise as there was speculation by all parties invovled that PJ would not be part of the 2010 team. This non-move by the Bruins to sign Axelsson comes in a long line of moves the B’s have made this off-season, that is changing the face of the team.

PJ served up 287 points (103 goals and 184 assists) in his tenure as a Bruin, while not impressive on the stat-sheet, PJ was dynamite on the penalty kill. However with the recent signing of Derek Morris, the Bruins seem to have run out of cap space, and may have pretty much locked up the roster for the upcoming season. With another forward out of the picture, you can pretty much count on the current lineup to be set, come September. The Kessel sweepstakes are still alive and well, and at this point Peter Chirelli must be waiting for an offer sheet to come in for the Restricted Free Agent Kessel. It will then be up to PC to match the offer, or wave bye-bye to the Madison Wisconsin native.

Back to PJ, I’m indifferant about the B’s not resigning the 34 year old to another season. The B’s have made some good moves this off-season and seem to be in decent shape to defend their Eastern Conference title. PJ’s effectivness really came on the penalty kill, along with his europoean flair, and that spot can now be taken over by Begin who is a more effective scorer. My only concern is getting someone with legitimate sniping power, a player the Bruins have lacked over the years. However, with the return of Sturm this year, there will be a new look to the B’s front men. However, it’s going to be weird not seeing Axelsson this year, who has obviously been a fixture for the Bruins. Much like Aaron Ward, a player that did everything that was asked of him, and played with intensity.

Fluto Shinzawa has the entire story:


P.J. Axelsson, who appeared in 797 NHL games (all with the Bruins), has signed a four-year deal with Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League, his former club. The signing closes the door on Axelsson’s Bruin career, which included 103 goals and 184 assists. Axelsson, the team’s seventh-round pick in 1995, established himself as one of the league’s best defensive forwards.

“When you look at Bruins history, the classic Bruins, it’s lunchpail hockey,” said Neil Abbott, Axelsson’s agent. “P.J. was a Bruin through and through, true to the core. With his hard work and determination, he gave it his all. I never saw any client work harder and have more fun doing it than P.J. He loved wearing that jersey.”

Abbott said he had discussions with several teams in each conference about three-year deals for Axelsson. But those deals were dependent on those teams clearing cap space, which the clubs had trouble shedding. Axelsson then considered one-year offers. But after weighing different factors such as moving from Boston, escrow concerns, and his growing family (Siw, Axelsson’s wife, is expecting their second child in October), the career Bruin opted to return to his old team in Sweden. Abbott said the Bruins did not make an offer.

Last season, the 34-year-old Axelsson scored six goals and 24 assists in 75 games. Axelsson, always favored for his versatility, skated on every line, killed penalties, and saw time on the first power-play unit. Axelsson, who served as an alternate captain, was well-liked by his coaches and teammates and was one of the most vocal players in the dressing room.

Axelsson was part of one of the most controversial plays in team history in the first round of the 1997-98 playoffs. In overtime of Game 3 against Washington, Axelsson’s game-winning goal was rubbed out by referee Paul Devorski because linemate Tim Taylor had part of his left skate in the crease. The Capitals would win the series.

Axelsson, who won an Olympic gold medal in 2006, is under consideration for Team Sweden duties in Vancouver. Abbott said Axelsson would like to play four or five more years, with a return to the NHL not ruled out.

“He’s sad to be leaving Boston. No question,” Abbott said. “He’s been here for a long time, his whole career. He’s very appreciative of the Boston fans and sends his thanks.”

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