HELSINKI — If Sweden wins a medal at the world junior championship, it will be without the help of William Nylander.
The team officially announced on Sunday that the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect’s tournament is over. While Sweden had been hoping that Nylander would be able to return from a suspected head injury he suffered in an opening game against Switzerland, team doctors have decided to shut him down and send him back to his NHL team.
“The decision for William not to play the rest of the tournament was the right decision,” Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a statement. “He will return to Toronto and be re-evaluated by our team physicians. We have been in constant communication with the Swedish Federation and have been supportive of all their decisions throughout this process.”
Sweden head coach Rikard Gronborg said the decision to pull Nylander from the tournament was made by the team’s doctor, but the Leafs have reportedly been involved every step of the way, including keeping the specifics of his injury under wraps.
“A player’s health is always No. 1,” said Gronborg. “We also have to protect the player’s integrity too. We feel like we’ve being holding information off, but his integrity is important as well.”
The permanent loss of Nylander, an eighth-overall pick in 2014 who had been leading the American Hockey League in scoring with 34 points in 27 games, is a big one. But the team has been surviving his absence so far, in part because his younger brother Alex leads Sweden with four goals and nine points in five games.
“The biggest loss is for the crowd, said Gronborg, whose team plays host team Finland in a semifinal on Monday. “(William’s) a tremendous hockey player. Obviously, for us he’s an offensive guy that we were hoping would help us on the power play. But we’ve been playing without him for a while.
“I think it’s too bad for him. I know he was looking forward to playing with his brother and winning a gold medal for Sweden.”