I spoke to Anders Strome by phone early last week about his return to the Texas Brahmas. The interview was held until the anouncement of his signing was made by the team today, as is customary for The Insider.
Strome played for the Odense Bulldogs in the top Danish ice hockey league last season. He tallied 40 points (25 G, 15 A) and 101 penalty minutes in 36 games played during their regular season. The Bulldogs lost in the semi-finals of the AL-Bank Ligaen Playoffs.
As you probably know, Strome was granted some time off after last season began in order to return to Canada to get married. Strome told me that he and wife Meagan are expecting a child. They have decided not to learn the sex of the baby ahead of time.
Here is our conversation.
Q: For those who may not be familiar, can you describe how the season works out in Denmark?
A: Well, we had a 36 game schedule there. We had two cups; the first is the Pokal Cup and that’s the cup that we won, that was played off as sort of a side tournament. It meant something to them; it was a big deal over there, but to us North American guys, we were more concerned with the year-end trophy, sort of like what we have back here. So that was a separate cup. You play a best of seven playoff, just like we would back here. We lost in the semi-finals.
Q: The Pokal Cup that you won; what’s the significance of that cup?
A: It’s just a tradition. Kind of like, in soccer they do things like that. Soccer’s huge over there, so a lot of the hockey is modeled after their soccer or football as they call it. So it’s just for pride amongst the cities competing in the league.
Q: How were the fans over there?
A: The fans were good (laughing). They get very much soccer, or football influenced. They constantly chant and sing; they have drums at the games so it’s quite loud. Not necessarily huge crowds but you definitely knew they were there.
Q: The home arena that you played at, was it similar in size to NYTEX?
A: Yeah, a similar size. It might have held a few more. But yeah, it had a similar feel and the rinks vary in size quite a bit over there. We had the bigger ice; all the rinks were Olympic sized sheets so it was a little different in that regard.
Q: You got married at the beginning of the season and brought your bride back with you. How was it, being newlyweds in Denmark?
A: It was good. It was sort of a whirlwind. We got married in August, it was August 6th and I had already been over there for a couple of weeks. I flew back for the wedding and then we went back there after that. We had a chance to do a little traveling while we were there because we had breaks. Over in Europe we had these national team breaks so sometimes we’d have 8-10 days without playing a game so it was different. Often we’d get two or there days off so we could do some traveling. My wife and I went to Italy one time and we went to Germany a couple of times; we drove down there. So it was a good experience.
Q: You had a couple of Canadians playing out there with you, Tyler Redenbach and Brad Rooney as well as a couple of American guys – John Laliberte and Peter Metcalf. Outside of the Danish players, did you spend a lot of time with those guys?
A: Yeah, definitely. We all had a lot in common and for a lot of us, it was our first time over in Europe. It was great to have those guys as well as the wives and girlfriends that were all in the same boat. Then again, the Danish people were very friendly and they speak a lot of English there which was really helpful. The language barrier wasn’t a huge issue because of that. I’ve heard it’s a lot worse in other countries.
Q: I know that you had originally talked to Dan about maybe getting back here in time to qualify to play in the playoffs after your season there was finished…
A: It was always a possibility. Dan and I kept in contact but just the way it worked out with our playoffs, the timing didn’t work out for that. We knew as long as we made it to a certain point it would no longer be an option. We won our first round of the playoffs and we went to the semi-finals. At that point, it was too late.
Q: Did you get a chance to see any of the Brahmas games during the playoffs and the finals on the Internet?
A: I watched a little bit of a couple of the games on the CHL-TV, which was nice to have. A couple were from the NYTEX Centre so it was nice that they had that up and running…so I watched the games; I definitely followed and it was great to see the guys. I was really pulling for them in the Finals against Colorado because I still had a bit of a sour taste in my mouth from losing to those guys the year before in the semi-finals.
Q: Did you think it was pretty cool that they ended up facing the Eagles in the Finals and then beat them considering the experience of the previous season?
A: For sure, yeah. It was awesome to see. They had a great run. They’re obviously a great bunch of guys. There were a lot of guys that I played with and some new faces of course, but it sounds like they had quite the team and I was just happy to see them make the run.
Q: It appears that a lot of the same guys will be back again for the coming season and a number of the guys that you played with in 2007-08 will be back. You’ll be back as a player/assistant. What’s your excitement level in regards to being back in North Richland Hills and back to playing with the Brahmas?
A: Oh, it’s great. I’m really excited. I’m happy that Dan brought me on board. We’re working on putting together another great team. Like you mentioned, a lot of the core guys are going to be back and always it’s tough to keep everybody, every year, especially coming off a championship year but we’re going to do our best to get as many guys back as possible and then fit in the missing pieces and we’re in the process of doing that now.
Photo Credit: Odense Bulldogs