Stuff of Legends: Hakan Loob
Friend of The Hockey Guys, Bill Kellet, takes a look at the historic career of Calgary Flames great Hakan Loob. We hope you enjoy the latest installment.
by Bill Kellet
There are many players who saw their careers defined by there longevity. The fact that they can put together 20 seasons in such a physical sport is amazing in itself. And then there are those whose careers are defined by great bursts of success in a short period of time. The latter category would describe Hakan Loob to a tee.
Per Hakan Loob was born July 3, 1960 in Visby, Sweden. His career was short, but his accomplishments will live on in the hearts of Calgary Flames fans forever. The rock group Trooper once wrote “we’re hear for a good time, not a long time”. Its almost like they could see into the future of Hakan Loob.
What he was able to accomplish in just five seasons in the NHL was amazing, and every year the chants of “Looob, Looob” would reign down from the Saddledome seats. It was a spectacle to behold.
Drafted 181st overall in the 1980 entry draft, the Flames took a big chance as many people felt the young Swede would never make the trek to North America. Drafting him was like throwing away a pick, yet the Flames saw something there and were convinced they could coax him to the NHL.
Loob would have plenty of success with his hometown Farjestad team, a team which he always held near and dear to his heart. Every season from 1979 on, his points totals increased to a whopping 42 goals and 34 assists in just 36 games in 1982-83. That’s right, 76 points in 36 games! He was becoming the Swedish Wayne Gretzky; well, with those kind of numbers that isn’t too much of an exaggeration.
After that ground breaking season in Farjestad the Calgary Flames had witnessed enough and figured it was time to make good on that draft pick. After much convincing, Loob agreed to try his hand at the North America and enter the NHL. What a ride it would be.
The 1983-84 season would be the first for Loob in North America. It would take him a while to adjust to the much more freewheeling style the NHL played compared to the controlled style of Europe. It didn’t take long to find his game. Loob would be a great pick up for that season for the Flames. He would end the year having scored 30 goals and adding 25 assists for 55 points in 77 NHL games.
Due to his previous seasons in Europe he was not considered a rookie therefore could not be a Calder candidate, but his numbers that first season proved he belonged. Flames fans were happy he did. The organization was even happier.
After two straight seasons of posting over 30 goals, 37 and 31 respectively, Loob would mysteriously dip to only 18 goals in the 1986-87 season. He would end with 44 points in 68 games. It was feared his production was declining and he was contemplating returning home to Sweden. The Flames brass once again stepped in to sway him to stay. It would be a rewarding decision.
During the 1987-88 season Loob would make history. He would pot 50 goals, and add 56 assists for 106 points. Those totals would make him the first Swedish born player to earn 100 points in a season, but also made him the only Swede to score 50 goals, a record which still stands today.
Although the Flames would be defeated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers that season, Loob made a staement that he belonged. He registered nine more points in only nine playoff games that year and was becoming a playoff demon. He seemed to save his best for last. Something of a tradition behind Loob; it seemed as he always was there at crunch time.
The 1988-89 season would become famous for a few things. That year, the Flames would hoist their only Stanley Cup. It ended in dramatic fashion with the great Lanny MacDonald, playing in his last game, getting the winning goal to lead them to victory. It would be a wonderful moment for Flames fans, but lost in the moment of that was the fact that another player also skated for the Flames for the last time that night.
Hakan Loob, who had recorded a respectable 27 goal and 85 points that season was a force in the playoffs as well by earning 17 points in the 22 playoff games played.
Loob was always there in key situations. He would expereince the joy of winning the biggest trophy in all of pro sports and would soak it in like a true North American. Smiling from ear to ear as he raised the Cup over his head. Little did we know that would be the last image of him in North America.
Figuring he had accomplished all he could in Calgary, Loob returned to Farjestad where he would play until his retirement in 1996. He would end with a total of 501 points in just 405 games in Sweden and 429 points in 450 games in the NHL. Numbers, that combined, would place him in a Hall of Fame class. His accomplishments in the NHL were outstanding.
Loob also won the 1981 Swedeish Championship with Farjestad and was an Olympic Gold medalist in the Lillehammer games in 1994, one of the few player to win all three championships.
Today Hakan Loob is right where he wants to be, still with the Farjestad club, now as the general manager. He is quite happy in his capacity and enjoys giving back to the team which gave him so much joy. He was a Calgary Flames player, briefly, but no doubt his heart was always in Sweden.
IF only the band known as Trooper had known of Hakan Loob, perhaps they would have dedicated their song to one of the all time unsung heroes.