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Marcus Hogberg: Hitting the Reset Button for a Future NHL Return

Back in Sweden, former NHL goaltender Marcus Hogberg is hoping a reset at home will help him return to the bigtime in North America.
Marcus Hogberg

By Uffe Bodin

It wasn’t the decision Marcus Hogberg was hoping to hear. After spending four seasons in North America with the Ottawa Senators organization, he was informed by GM Pierre Dorion that the team wasn’t going to tender him a qualifying offer.

It wasn’t a big surprise, though, since last season met neither his nor the team’s expectations. And even though the Sens eventually lost Joey Daccord to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft, they had four other goalies in their immediate and future plans: Matt Murray along with Hogberg’s Swedish countrymen Anton Forsberg and Filip Gustavsson, plus Danish prospect Mads Sogaard. That made Hogberg expendable. “We have the quality and quantity in our goaltending,” Dorion said as he let Hogberg go in May.

“It was sad and a tough pill to swallow,” Hogberg said. “I had been with the organization since 2013 when they drafted me, so I was very disappointed when I found out. But I respected the decision. There really wasn’t anything else I could do.”

In his 14 games with the Sens during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, Hogberg had a meager .876 save percentage – a career-worst mark. “I didn’t have a very good year,” Hogberg said. “I could have done better and I’m disappointed with how things transpired. In 2019-20, I played 24 games and felt like I was on the right track, like I was ready to take the next step in my career. For whatever reason, it didn’t happen.”

The lack of progress was why he decided not to become an unrestricted free agent last summer. Instead of trying to find a new employer in North America, Hogberg instead returned home to Sweden to build himself back into the goalie he feels he has the potential to be. “For one, I feel like I need to play more games – I only played 14 last season,” Hogberg said. “For the sake of my development, I feel like I need a reboot and aim for a return to the NHL in the future.”

In June, Hogberg signed a four-year pact with Linkoping, the team he represented from the junior level all the way up to the Swedish League. He was one of the top goalies in the SHL when he moved to Ottawa in 2017. “I liked what they had to offer me,” Hogberg said. “There’s a progressive mindset within this organization and a lot of good people here, a good environment for me. They have a long-term plan for me and I get security while still having the chance to develop my game. I feel like it’s going to be a good education for me, so to speak.”

The start to 2021-22 was rough for both Hogberg and the team. The transition from the smaller rinks in North America to the international-sized ones in Sweden proved to be a challenge, as he won only three of his first 10 starts while playing for one of the most ineffective teams in the league.

Still, Hogberg feels like he’s a better goalie today at 26 than when he left Sweden four years ago. “I’ve learned a lot about myself and how things work over there (in North America) during these past few years,” Hogberg said. “I started in the ECHL and worked my way up to the NHL, and that was a very neat experience that has given me a lot of insights about myself and my game.”

The move back home doesn’t only give Hogberg a chance to redefine himself as a player, it also gives him the chance to be closer to his family, something that is more important to him than ever before.

In late February 2020, Hogberg found out that his father, Peter, had a brain tumor. One month later, Peter died after complications following surgery. “When he woke up after the surgery, he seemed like himself. The first thing he asked for was an iPad so he could watch hockey,” Hogberg said with a smile.

“But only a few days later, he had a stroke and was deemed brain dead. He also caught pneumonia and was gone within a few weeks after that. I still feel like it was a relief that he didn’t have to suffer.”

On Twitter, Hogberg shared an emotional tribute to his father after he had passed away. “Dad, I love you,” the post read in English. “I miss you already, but know you’ll always be in my heart. Thanks for always supporting me. You’ll continue to be my idol for the rest of my life.”

This season, Hogberg is wearing No. 63, the year his father was born. He takes solace in the fact that his dad got to be a part of a fathers’ trip with the Senators before he passed way. “We got a week to ourselves in Florida and Tampa, and he got to see me play in the NHL,” Hogberg said.

“We had a really nice relationship. He was my goalie coach in the early years. We were really close and I always called him for advice even though I mostly knew what he was going to say. Even if he’s not with me anymore, he still lives on within me. This is obviously the worst thing that has ever happened to me, a nightmare. It’s still tough, but it has given me another perspective of life too. I try to relish every day.” 

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