Michael and William Nylander. (Photo credit: Scanpix)
Michael Nylander appeared in only parts of four seasons with the Washington Capitals, but he’s remembered by fans both for his play and the way he left the organization. The talented Swedish center played on the early 2000’s Capitals teams with Peter Bondra, Olie Kolzig, and Jaromir Jagr. He also helped mentor Nicklas Backstrom in a second tour with the team from 2007-2009.
But after signing a four-year $19.5 million contract to be the top center of the Caps in 2007, Nyles tore his rotator cuff and was never the same. With the Capitals near the top of the salary cap and Nylander unhappy with his role, they loaned the Swede to the Detroit Red Wings organization in 2009-10 (who then assigned him to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL) and then to the Florida Panthers during the last year of his contract in 2010-11 (who later assigned him to Rochester). Nylander, who broke his neck 7 games into his stint with the Americans, then continued his career in Europe the next season in the Swiss National League A.
Since then, the 40-year-old Nylander has returned to his native home of Sweden to finish his career in the second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan. And for a good reason.
On Tuesday, for the first time ever, Nyles and his 16-year-old son, William, played together on the same team, Sodertalje SK (and even skated on the same line). This is the same William who could be seen skating at Kettler Capitals Iceplex after his dad finished practice with the big league team.
After signing Michael early on in January, Sodertalje SK recalled his son William from their under-20 squad a few weeks ago. The younger Nylander, however, could not make his long-awaited professional debut until Tuesday due to a shoulder injury.
In almost a perfect storm for Caps fans, Sodertalje SK and the Nylanders took on Filip Forsberg’s Leksands IF.
The league-leading Leksand won 5-3 to spoil William’s debut. Forsberg scored a goal, but the best moment however was when William Nylander scored his first pro point, an assist, after skating a full circle around Leksands IF’s offensive zone. Sound familiar? William, ignoring his dad wide open in front of the net, instead passed to Johan Jonsson who scored on a shot from the point. Sorry, dad.
Will’s assist can be seen at the 30 second mark. Forsberg’s goal can be seen at 1:00. (Video credit: HockeyAllsvenskan)
Not surpsingly, Nylander’s son is a highly-touted prospect eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft. The Hockey Writers had him rated in their top 20.
We’re pretty sure William will remember this day for the rest of his career.
Sodertalje SK fans’ “Welcome Nylanders” sign. (Photo credit: HockeyAllsvenskan)
Additional reporting by Ian Oland.