"Players are allowed to make mistakes."

If your players made the right decision every time they stepped on the ice, controlled the puck, or tried to get it back, then you’d be out of a job.

Sorry, that’s the truth.

And for decorated Swedish national team head coach Rikard Grönborg, the point isn’t to make the right decision every time, it’s simply the act of trying to do the right thing. This is how the Swedish development model has turned in recent years – to move away from a win-at-all-costs attitude to developing smart young hockey players in the long-run.

That means mistakes will happen. Swedish coaches are taught to be ok with those mistakes even when they’re costly.

You might have heard of such defencemen as Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Victor Hedman, and Erik Karlsson? Even the lesser-knowns like Oscar Klefbom are committed to the modern style of playing defence focused on skating, getting the puck back, and moving it efficiently.

And these days, there are more young Swedes falling in love with the game than ever before.

Recently hired to coach the ZSC Lions in Switzerland, Grönborg has experience coaching various levels of international hockey for Sweden for the past decade. During his career the 51-year-old has won medals at seven World Championships, six World Juniors, and one Olympic Games.

Check out the presentation Grönborg delivered for the NHL Coaches’ Association in 2018 on how Sweden has managed to develop so many exceptional defencemen in recent years.

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  • Is there anyway to get the on ice and/or off of training info of Rikard Gronborg presentation

  • The one concept that stood out to me was the concept of the defence man challenging the first forechecker and coming out with possession to possibly create an odd man situation going back the other way.
    This is something to teach highly skilled offensive d-men to be aware of if they feel that first forechecker is a mismatch skating wise, and work to exploit him.


The NHL Coaches’ Association is a professional organization that provides support and assistance to the head, associate, assistant, goalie and video coaches of the 32 teams in the National Hockey League.

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