William Nylander understands that family comes first.
Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander provided a heartwarming explanation for why he decided not to join Team Sweden at the 2023 IIHF World Championships. Nylander was invited to join the team following the Maple Leafs’ second-round playoff loss to the Florida Panthers.
Nylander was contemplating joining Team Sweden but ultimately decided against it. According to TSN insider Chris Johnston, Nylander was concerned about taking another player’s spot on the roster. Nylander’s brother, Alex, is currently playing for Sweden, and he could potentially lose his spot to William.
Check out this heartwarming tweet from Johnston:
Regarding William Nylander's decision not to join Sweden at the IIHF World Hockey Championship: I'm told he was reticent about arriving late and taking someone's spot in the lineup, especially since it may have belonged to his brother Alex.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 20, 2023
This is pure class from Nylander to put his brother’s success in front of his own. Alex is a fringe NHL player, and he needs every opportunity to show that he belongs in the big leagues. The 25-year-old appeared in nine games for the Pittsburgh Penguins this past year, notching one goal and one assist. Most of his season was spent in the AHL with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Sweden is 4-1-0 through the first five games of the IIHF World Championships and are legit contenders to win it all. Alex Nylander is suiting up in his first-ever Worlds tournament after playing a crucial role for the team’s World Junior team between 2015-2018. Through five games, Nylander has yet to find the back of the net.
William Nylander skipping the IIHF Worlds means he will have more time to rest and begin training for the next NHL season. The 27-year-old Swede registered the first 40-goal campaign of his NHL career this season before following up with four goals in 11 postseason contests.
Nylander has suited up for Sweden in three previous World Championships, so it speaks volumes he chose to pass this time. This was the first time Toronto made it out of Round 1 of the NHL Playoffs, though, so Nylander was also in unfamiliar territory. He clearly doesn’t like the idea of arriving late to the tournament and stealing someone’s roster spot.
While Team Sweden would love for Nylander to come to the tournament and replace an inferior player, we have to respect Willy’s unselfishness here.