HELSINKI — First he did not skate. Then, he cancelled a scheduled news conference at the last minute.
But Team Sweden is hopeful that William Nylander is not only progressing from a head injury that he suffered in the first game of the world junior championship, but that he will return at some point in the tournament.
“He’s feeling fine,” team doctor PA Bergsten said of the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, who has missed two games so far and is not expected to play against Canada on New Year’s Eve.
“We will take it day-to-day and see how it progresses with his rehabilitation.”
When asked if it was Sweden or the Leafs who made the decision that Nylander would not be made available to the media, Bergsten said “it’s mostly Team Sweden.”
“Unfortunately we made a late decision on him not attending this media session,” he said. “I think it’s more about the attention … we decided that we would like to protect him a bit.”
Nylander, who scored on his only shot of the tournament in the first game against Switzerland, was injured when he took a hit to the head from Chris Egli. The Swiss forward was suspended for the remainder of the preliminary round.
Nylander has remained with Sweden where he is rehabbing from the injury. Bergsten said he has been in daily contact with the Leafs medical staff while Toronto director of player personnel Mark Hunter is in Helsinki.
“I think they have the same approach to this as we (do),” said Bergsten. “If he is able to play, he will play, but then he must be 100 per cent … hopefully he’ll play more in this tournament and obviously there’s still that hope, but he has to move slowly forwards.”