Oilers’ Klefbom returns home as Sweden plays with COVID-19


While the rest of the world remains locked up, Oscar Klefbom is free to do whatever he wants – sit in a cafe for lunch, go to the library and maybe even have a movie at the local theater or a drink in a corner pub.

In Sweden, where the Edmonton Oilers defender and his family are awaiting the global COVID-19 pandemic, life is almost as usual. So far, the only official government policy is not to reunite 50 or more people and keep the elderly and people with underlying health conditions at home.

Otherwise, unlike the isolation and quarantine that takes place almost everywhere else on the planet, Swedes are told to use common sense and continue their daily activities.

“It’s different,” Klefbom admitted in a conference call from his apartment in Karlstad. “Different countries have different tactics to tackle this major problem. It’s hard for me to sit here and say what’s wrong or what’s good. “

It’s a risky strategy that critics say could have dire consequences, but Swedish health officials say the models used to predict how many people will die if isolation policies are not in place are over the top exaggerated.

So if their employees want to work from home, they can. And if they want to have a few friends for lunch, they can do that too.

“Sweden is going in one direction and we just have to understand it,” said Klefbom, who hopes to be right about it. “Because obviously it’s a bigger problem than hockey, it’s bigger than any sport.”

However, the numbers are troubling. Despite just over a quarter of Canada’s population (10.8 million to 37.5 million), Sweden already has twice as many deaths (358 to 171) and four times as many severe / critical cases (469 to 120 ).

Klefbom, meanwhile, says he uses a common sense approach to get discouraged and avoid the crowds as best he can.

“Right now, I’m going home to my apartment in Karlstad,” he said. “But I went to my family’s cottage in the north, I tried to stay away from a lot of people, obviously, and large crowds. It’s crazy times. What’s going on right now is very scary.

“We just have to try to make the most of the situation. I tried to stay away from the elderly and a lot of people. It’s weird, but I think it’s very important that everyone takes this seriously. “

So far, everyone around them has avoided the virus.

“I’m fine, my girlfriend is fine, everyone I know, I drink wood. We were lucky to be healthy right now, but you never know. It looks like it changes every day. Lots of cases are popping up everywhere, but for now I’m very happy that my grandmothers and grandfathers and those of my loved ones are in good health. “

The decision to leave Edmonton for Sweden has not been easy, but Klefbom and his girlfriend want to be close to their roots while the world faces this crisis. With borders closing all over the world, they had to make a quick phone call and he is glad they did

“We talked a lot and we both agreed that going home with the dog would be a pretty smart decision with what’s going on in the world. If we had waited longer, maybe some borders would be closed and we would be hard pressed to go back.

“Even though Edmonton is a good place to live and we like it there, it’s best to be here in Karlstad with the dog and close to his family and friends.”

It’s weird, however, when the body’s internal clock asks him why he’s not playing hockey.

“It is different from being home in March,” he said. “It should be the most exciting time of the year for many players. It’s weird to be at home. “

Klefbom, like all of his teammates, is working the best he can, hoping that the NHL will resume at some point. But he has no idea what the landscape will look like when he does it. All he knows is that a lot has to happen before anyone thinks of lacing up a skate.

“If we go back and start playing again, the league (and the medical experts) will really want to keep that under control. They don’t want to go back to play, gathering crowds of 18,000 if the pandemic is not really over yet. It will be “there we go again” and people are starting to get sick.

“It will definitely take a while. Obviously, we want to play hockey and we want the fans to come and watch us play too, so if we start playing again, we want to make sure we’re ready to go. “

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