Tobias Enstrom will not be going to Russia in February.
The Winnipeg Jets defenceman has told Par Marts, head coach of the Swedish national team, that he will skip the 2014 Olympics to focus on a potential playoff push with the Jets.
Speaking to reporters in Winnipeg on Thursday, Enstrom said he told Marts when he visited with Enstrom a couple weeks ago.
“First of all, it was a hard decision to make but I decided to not play on the national team. I just felt that I want to focus on Winnipeg here and the team and really push for the playoffs. I want to take that time to rest and just be healthy.”
Enstrom, who turns 29 on Tuesday, played four games for Sweden at the 2010 Olympics, registering two assists. While his spot on the national team for Sochi wasn’t guaranteed, Enstrom bowed out because he wants to remain committed to the Jets.
Enstrom has never played in the playoffs, and the current incarnation of the Jets hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2006-07 season, their only appearance as the Atlanta Thrashers.
In total, Winnipeg fans haven’t seen playoff hockey since the 1995-96 season, their final season before moving to Phoenix.
Jets head coach Claude Noel praised his defenceman, saying Enstrom’s decision was commendable, and it “speaks volumes for us and for him.”
“I do know he wants to win. I do know he wants to get stuff going in the right direction here, as a lot of players do.”
The Jets will have some work to do to get into the playoff picture. They currently sit sixth in the Central Division with 12 points, six points back of the Los Angeles Kings for the final wild card berth in the Western Conference.
Enstrom is a strong two-way defenceman who could have been a vital part of the Swedish team, especially as former Swedish captain Nicklas Lidstrom has retired since the Vancouver Olympics. While the Swedes will miss Enstrom’s ability to log big minutes, it’s a selfless decision made in the name of helping the Jets return to the postseason.