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Introducing Johan Gärtner: Broad Street Hockey’s new resident Swede

Why I’m here: The Pantsless Swede.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

I get asked quite frequently how I became a Flyers fan all the way over in Sweden and the answer is pretty simple: Eric Lindros. Let me elaborate:

I’ve loved the game of hockey for as long as I can remember and my mother is the one who introduced me to the sport. She used to take me to watch our local team, Leksands IF, quite often when I was a kid and I was hooked straight away. The atmosphere in the arena was incredible, the fans were chanting songs about the team and the players no matter how good or bad they were playing. There was some sort of undying loyalty and I loved everything about it.

As a young kid in the early 2000’s, my cousin and I each got an autographed and framed photo of a NHL player from our grandfather. My cousin Emil got Wayne Gretzky and I got Eric Lindros. This was at a time where I didn’t know much about the NHL, the only knowledge I had about the league was what they reported on the Swedish news and it was pretty much only about the Swedish players in the league. It’s crazy to think that something as small as one autographed picture could make such a big difference in my life, and all these years later I still have the same framed picture in my living room.

The picture (Unfortunately has some water damage)

I didn’t know who Eric Lindros was when I got the framed photo, and I had obviously never seen him play so I was curious to see what type of player he was — I was blown away. I’m extremely biased but I have never seen anyone dominate the game the way he did. His combination of power and skill was second to none. After falling in love with Lindros, the next natural step was to read up on the team he played for and, in some ways, the Philadelphia Flyers are very similar to my local team Leksands IF. One similarity being that both teams had tremendous success in the 1970’s but have failed to get back to winning ever since.

The more I learned about the Flyers, the more I fell in love with the team and the city of Philadelphia. Everything from the Broad Street Bullies to Ed Snider’s (for better and worse) never-ending pursuit to get the Stanley Cup back to Broad Street. Talking about Ed Snider, his death really hit me personally. It felt like I lost my own grandfather. Thinking back I can’t help to think, man, it would have been so cool if they would have won the Stanley Cup one more time while Snider was still with us. Flyers were close a couple of times but only once during my fandom, and Game 6 of the 2010 finals still haunts me. Fuck Patrick Kane for many reasons, but fuck you Patrick Kane for Game 6.

It hasn’t been easy being a Flyers fan ever since those 2010 finals but I’m still here with my undying loyalty, just like when I was a kid.