Other International Stars
By Patrick Houda
experts regard Svedberg to be the most talented Swedish defenseman ever. Everybody called
him "Lill-Strimma". He was an exceptionally creative defenseman who was a joy to
watch. Lill-Strimma was born on February 29,1944 in Östrand and began playing hockey as a
As a senior he made his debut in Wifsta / Östrand (later Timrå) as a 16-year old.
Lill-Strimma made his international debut on the Swedish national team in a game against
Czechoslovakia on December 8,1961. At that time he was only 17-years old and one of the
youngest ever to represent Sweden. He scored the game tying 3-3 goal in his debut (
a 4-3 win). At that time he still was a forward.
When he arrived to Brynäs IF in 1963 the trainer Thure Wickberg told Lill-Strimma that he
would switch him to defense. Little did he know that it would be one of the best
moves ever suggested to Swedish player. At that time both journalists and fans thought it
was a crazy move. Why change the position of a player who's on the National team ?
Soon it became clear that Lill-Strimma was born to be a defenseman.
His unpredictable moves and effortless skating made him extremely hard to stop. He was a
Paul Coffey type of player in regards of skating and offensive play. He didn't score many
goals, but he set up a lot and created havoc in the offensive zone. He had his weaknesses
in his defensive play, which of course wasn't strange considering the fact that he had
been a forward for over 15 years.
After the 1968 Olympic tournament legendary Russian trainer Anatoli Tarasov invited
Lill-Strimma to Moscow and the CSKA team. He wanted Lill-Strimma to train with them.
Lill-Strimma even played a friendly game for the CSKA team against Dynamo Moscow. Tarasov
was fascinated by Lill-Strimma's spontaneous rushes and his creativeness. Lill-Strimma
remembered how he was late for one of the training sessions.
" One morning I came late to the training, so they punished me by letting me jump
over the boards
back and forth 25 times. You bet that I wasn't late again."
In 1969 he was on Detroit Red Wings training camp, training alongside such legends as
Gordie Howe and Alex Delvecchio. Detroit's GM Sid Abel suggested to Lill-Strimma
that he should stay in Detroit. But Lill-Strimma and his wife went back home to Sweden.
Lill-Strimma represented Sweden 125 times, scoring 16 goals. He was named to the
World Championship All-Star team three years in a row (1968-70). In 1970 he was voted as
the best defenseman in the World Championships.
In the Swedish league he played 229 games and scored 72 goals. His clubs in Sweden were
Wifsta / Östrand (later Timrå IK) (1960-62), Grums IK (1962-63), Brynäs IF (1963-67),
Mora IK (1967-69) and Timrå IK (1969-72)
On July 29,1972 hockey fans received the shocking message that Lennart
"Lill-Strimma" Svedberg had died in a car accident, only 28 years old and at the
peak of his hockey career.
Those who saw him play will never forget his high speed
rushes over the ice that captured fans everywhere. He was a bohemian player and didn't
follow any given patterns. It was this unique trademark that made him stand out among the
He was a "Michelangelo" on ice.