Moffatt’s pro career begins in Sweden
By Justin Emerson
Luke Moffatt always dreamed of playing professional hockey.
He just had no idea how far – literally, how far – it would take him.
For this Paradise Valley native, that next opportunity meant a one-way ticket to Sweden to live his pro hockey dream.
“I’m really loving it so far,” Moffatt said. “Over here I’m experiencing life in a whole different culture, on a different continent, and I think that’s also part of the pretty special thing.”
Moffatt had a successful developmental career stateside, playing for Arizona’s Desert Youth Hockey Association (DYHA) and Coyotes Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA), before moving to Michigan following his freshman year of high school. It would be there, in Ann Arbor, where he played for the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP), and ultimately NCAA Division I hockey at the University of Michigan.
In 2010 at Michigan, Moffatt experienced playing in the Big Chill – the outdoor game between his Wolverines and rival Michigan State Spartans. It was played at Michigan’s home football stadium, the Big House, and set a world record for the most-attended hockey game ever, with 104,173 people. He also got to play in the Frozen Four, making it to the national championship game his freshman year.
“Looking back, that was an amazing experience, and something really special,” Moffatt said.
Moffatt got to do it all – including winning gold with Team USA at the 18U World Championships in 2010. He even got his name called in a way most players can only imagine; Moffatt was drafted in the seventh round of the 2010 NHL Draft by the Colorado Avalanche.
Over the years, Moffatt attended a few camps with the Avalanche, and following his time at UM last year, spent some time with the Lake Erie Monsters – the Avs’ American Hockey League affiliate.
While contemplating his next move, it would be Moffatt’s experience traveling and playing in Europe as part of the U.S. national program that would serve him well; knowing the level of hockey over there, his agent got him a deal, making this season his first with the Frolunda Indians of the Swedish Hockey League.
“You envision yourself playing in the NHL,” he said. “But I always had (Europe) in my mind as an option if I’m not quite at the NHL level yet. Somewhere I can … develop and still play great hockey.”
Moffatt’s team is based in Gothenburg, the second-largest city in Sweden to Stockholm, and the SHL is considered one of the top hockey leagues outside North America behind only Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
Moffatt isn’t the only player from Arizona on his team, he is the only American – and actually the only player from the Western Hemisphere. Of the 27 players on Frolunda’s roster, 23 are Swedish, two are Norwegian, one is Finnish and only Moffatt is American.
“It’s obviously scary. You always hear about people – the biggest thing they’re afraid of is change,” he said. “It was something that I decided that I wasn’t going to let a little bit of fear not let me take this opportunity.”
The team has been key in easing Moffatt’s transition. English is commonly spoken in Sweden, and Frolunda has set him up with Swedish lessons twice a week. He graduated from Michigan in the spring, and has spent only two months in Sweden so far after living his whole life in the United States.
“It took some adjusting, but I’m really liking it over here,” Moffatt said. “Glad I’ve gotten the experience and glad I’ve decided to take this chance.”