The New Jersey Devils have fans all over the world. This is a world class hockey blog because there are fans all over the world. Occasionally, I will be surprised by what the world has to offer. Prior to Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Avalanche where Bratt scored a goal and provided a primary assist, AAtJ reader, Talking Red listener, Devils and AIK fan Emil Lindgren (@eplindgren) alerted me to an interview with Jesper Bratt conducted by Ronnie Rönnkvist at Hockey Sverige published on Thursday, October 5. The interview was about his transition to the NHL and working with coach Andy Swärd.
Lindgren offered to provide a translation of the interview, which is what I am presenting in this post. It is far better than trying to make sense of whatever Google Translate would determine. I only edited the format as I wanted to keep Lindgren’s translation. I suggest you read the whole thing as it provides some insight as to what a young professional player may go through in getting to the NHL level. What follows is Lindgren’s translation of this article at Hockey Sveirge. Please credit Lindgren for the translation and Ronnie Ronnqvist and Hockey Sveirge for the original interview itself.
Jesper Bratt knew he had the potential to have a big breakout season. But he didn’t know how he could be the best version of himself every day. Working together with his mental coach Andy Swärd has certainly helped, and now the 19-year old will make his NHL- debut Saturday night.
“Every time I’ve stepped out on the ice I’ve felt extremely comfortable,” Bratt tells Hockeysverige.se about his work with Swärd.
Not too long ago, not many people believed that Jesper Bratt would earn a spot on the New Jersey Devils team. But this Saturday, he will most likely make his NHL debut in the game against Colorado Avalanche, which, by the way, will be televised on Swedish state television (SVT). Despite flying under the radar in his native Sweden, Bratt has been keen on making it to the NHL.
“I went over here with the goal of making the team. I had a terrific summer with exceptional physical training thanks to Andreas Öhgren. It really worked out well,” says Bratt. “I’ve also had very good support from family, friends and relatives and my agent Joakim Persson. In addition to that, I’ve been helped with the mental aspects of the game by Andy Swärd. I don’t think that I would play here if it wasn’t for Andy.”
“I came here extremely well prepared for the rookie tournament as well as the training camp. Since day one, I’ve worked hard and tried to show all the coaches and the other players that I deserve to be on the team, and this time things turned out well.”
“A person that could help me extremely lot”
The mental coach Andy Swärd in Malmö, Sweden works with several hockey players including goaltenders Oscar Alsenfelt, Christopher Nilstorp, Joel Lassinantti and Markus Svensson. The collaboration with Bratt has given the youngster an extra boost on the ice.
Bratt: “Together we have focused on how to be prepared and knowing what to do every time I step out on the ice. It´s made me feel extremely comfortable when I´ve played. I´ve been very focused on what to do and that´s helped me a lot.”
Rönnkvist: “Is this a collaboration that started this summer or have you been working together previously?”
Bratt: “It’s a new thing. I started working with him after the season with AIK because I felt that I didn’t really know how to perform on top every night. I felt that he was a person that could help me a lot. My agent helped us come in touch with each other and we’ve been having great conversations ever since, which is something that has benefited me a lot.
My agent and I have put up a long term plan for me to strive for - a plan that has made me feel comfortable. Things might have happened a little sooner than we expected 3-4 years ago, but it´s immensely fun to be here now.”
“Everybody has been really happy for me”
Rönnkvist: “Have you had time to catch up with your everyday life besides of hockey?”
Bratt: “Mostly I’ve stayed at a hotel so far so I haven’t really had any chance yet to adapt to everyday life. I will move to an apartment in a few days and that will be really nice. Everyone on the team have been fantastic and they’ve been taken care of me really well. They’ve invited me out for dinners so that I wouldn’t just sit in the hotel room all the time. All of them have been happy for me and they think that I have deserved my spot on the team. They’ve been good at helping me become a member of the team as well as to create a great atmosphere within the team.”
Rönnkvist: “Last year you played with AIK in Hockeyallsvenskan [Sweden’s second division] and this year you will start out on a NHL team, how do you look at this speedy transition?”
Bratt: “It has been a fast journey for sure. I think my problem in AIK was that I had a lot of potential, but I didn’t really know what to do in order to push myself to the max every night. It´s also because of that, I believe, that I’ve gotten a great boost now that I know how to prepare and what it takes of me to play my best hockey every night. That´s something that I now have learned.
Of course it´s been a big step from Hockeyallsvenskan to the NHL. But for now I feel comfortable with it. I´m over here now, and I can’t really think too much about Hockeyallsvenskan.”
Rönnkvist: “What have the coaches been telling you about what they want to see from you in your first game and during the rest of the season?”
Bratt: “They just want me to continue doing what I´ve done so far. The coaches have been appreciating my creativity, my skills and speed. But the one thing that I believe that they’ve been liking the most is my competitiveness - that I always want to win.
I don’t think they want me to change anything, it´s just for me to go out there and prove that I belong and show them that I want to stick around for the whole season.”
Rönnkvist: “Regarding your competitiveness, is that partly due to mental coach Andy Swärd?”
Bratt: “Yes, for sure. But it´s also something that me and my agent Joakim Persson have been working on. It has matured since I got over here and since then I’ve felt that I really could compete for a roster spot. I wanted to make the team and there wasn’t any other thing on my mind.”
Mom and dad will watch the debut on Saturday
The Devils will play their season opener on Saturday, which is something that Bratt looks forward to.
Bratt: “It´s going to be very fun. My mom and dad will fly over to watch the game live, and to be able to share this experience along with them feels amazing. I really look forward to the game, and I feel ready to go and I´m stoked about the season getting under way.
Rönnkvist: “If you’re not staying around with New Jersey after the introduction of the season, would you prefer to play in the AHL, OHL or make a return to Sweden?”
Bratt: “That we’ll see. I haven’t thought of being sent down. My focus is on being here and play as well as I can and practice hard every day.
I am here to stay, but we’ll see how things play out. It´s partly up to how New Jersey sees things, and I got London Knights as an alternative.”
Rönnkvist: “You didn’t make the World Junior team last year, is there an expectation to make the team this year?”
Bratt: “Yes, of course. To put on the national team jersey and get a chance to play in the WJC is a dream for all of the Swedish players. If I would stay around in the NHL it´s up to the coaches to decide if I´m going to the tournament or not. We´ll see, but for now I don’t think too much about the World Juniors. That´s something that will come later on, when we all know how things turn out.”
Again, I thank Emil Lindgren for his translation of this Ronnie Rönnkvist interview with Bratt at Hockey Sverige from October 5. While Bratt may end up in juniors, this interview points to his mindset and that he received some help to get the mindset that he is in. It appears to have served him well as Bratt really could make a case for staying in New Jersey. Scoring goals like this one will help - which was seen in his home country, as per this interview.
In the meantime, what did you think of Ronnkvist’s interview and Lindgren’s translation? Did you learn more about Bratt? Are you hoping he is good enough to play beyond nine NHL games this season? Please leave your thoughts in the comments. Thank you for reading.