Flames re-unite Gavle Gang with Calle Jarnkrok trade

Flames' Elias Lindholm and Jacob Markstrom discuss their excitement to be reunited with their good friend and fellow Swedish teammate Calle Jarnkrok, after GM Brad Treliving pulled the trigger to bring him aboard.

Mere hours after being traded to the Calgary Flames, Calle Jarnkrok joked that Jacob Markstrom and Elias Lindholm would have to fight over who will house him.

As his two boyhood besties gathered Thursday to discuss their imminent reunion, the lodging had already been settled.  

“Ah, he can have him,” shrugged Markstrom, deferring to Lindholm, who is Jarnkrok’s cousin.

“Just for a couple days,” added Lindholm.

The odds of three childhood chums from a small Swedish city of 75,000 playing together on an NHL team have to be longer than Victor Hedman’s stick.

Yet, after years of discussing the possibility, the Gavle Gang is back together.

“We talked about this not too long ago,” said Markstrom.  

“When we retire, and are old, we can buy a low division team in Sweden and get all your friends together. But we just figured we’d do it here instead.”  

Given how seamlessly Tyler Toffoli has fit into a room with plenty of familiarity, it only made sense that the third line centre role Jarnkrok is being penciled in for went to a versatile veteran who had several ties to the bunch. So Brad Treliving packaged up three draft picks for the rental who the GM hopes could be swayed to extend his stay.  

His bosom buddies, not to mention a long playoff run, might be able to help with that too.

“Obviously it’s a key to bring in players who are quick to adjust and who are good people,” said Lindholm.

“Toff and Jarny are really good people, and that helps to make good chemistry. He can play anywhere, pk, pp, good on faceoffs. He brings a little bit of everything.”

Everything is exactly what the trio has done together the bulk of their lives.

“We didn’t grow up far from each other – we went through the same school system and hockey was a big part of our lives,” said Markstrom, who is one year older than the 30-year-old Jarnkrok.  

“We had sleepovers at his house. We were close as a family and that relationship has grown. We’ll see him a lot and we live in the same neighbourhood in the summer too. It’s special to have a guy you know so well.”

The excitement was evident in their smiles, not to mention the ribbing that hockey pals are so good at administering.

“Another credit card in the hat on the road - it’s going to be good,” smiled Markstrom, who was asked to describe Jarnkrok’s personality.  

“Same as Lindy. Whether that’s good or bad is up to you.”

Well played for a guy who finishes last in the trio when they gather for daily golf or padel (a tennis/squash hybrid) back home.

Insisting Jarnkrok “beats me in everything,” Markstrom said the perennial 15-goal scorer has his number on the ice too.   

“I think the last six or seven games I played against him he probably scored,” said the humble netminder, who has indeed allowed his pal to solve him in five of their last eight meetings, including both this season.   

“Him and Toffoli were the two most successful against me, so it’s nice to have him on the team.

He’s a workhorse in all three zones, good two-way player and does it all.

“I think everyone is excited, not just us.”

Well, not excited enough to pick him up from the airport.

“Maybe Looch can welcome everyone in,” laughed Markstrom, of the man who picked Toffoli up at YYC International.

Three years his junior, Lindholm last played with Jarnkrok in 2010-11 on their hometown Brynas club in the Swedish Hockey League that included Thomas Greiss, Jakob Silfverberg and Mattias Ekholm.

“We played on the same line there,” beamed Lindhom, whose mother is a sister to Jarnkrok’s father.

Rounding Out the Flames' Roster w/ Brad Treliving
March 17 2022

“We had some success, and it was a dream come true to play with him. And now to be able to do it in the NHL is pretty cool," Lindholm added.

“He was a super talent when we grew up. I always looked up to him because he was so good."

Dinners and stuff with families we were always hanging out. Obviously we’re really close, so it’s exciting times to be able to play with him again.”

Asked how three youngsters from a European city the size of Medicine Hat found their way to the NHL, a playful Markstrom smiled.

“A lot of people that are not from there say there’s nothing else to do,” he deadpanned. “But I wouldn’t agree with that."

“There was (Andreas) Dackell back in the days in Ottawa and Montreal, you had goalie (Johan) Holmqvist, who I train with a bunch in the summer, and the big name (Nicklas) Backstrom in Washington really paved the way. I think everybody that comes from the city looks up to him and sees what he’s done in the league."

“After that there’s been a bunch of good players, us three and Silfverberg. Hockey is big in that city for sure.”

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