When Carl Hagelin made the trip from Sweden to the United States, the first two things he lost almost immediately was his hair and his name.
On the latest episode of Capitals podcast “Between Two Blue Lines” with Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway, Hagelin spoke with his linemates about his transition to the United States from Sweden, and what his adjustment to the US was like as he enrolled at the University of Michigan.
Notably, two of his most identifiable characteristics were gone almost immediately.
“In my first year at Michigan, (coach) Red Berenson told me I had to get a haircut,” Hagelin said with a chuckle. “My first meeting there, even before I decided to play for Michigan, he told me and my dad, he said ‘the hairdresser is that way.’ Even before the meeting started. I still wanted to go to school there. As you get older, he lets you do more things.”
But another aspect to Hagelin’s transition was his name, which has a different pronunciation in the United States than he does in Sweden, which comes at the 7:45 mark of the episode.
His first name is pronounced in Sweden with almost no notice of ‘R’ in his name, and his last name is pronounced as “Hogaleen.”
“It was hard at first,” Hagelin said, as Dowd and Hathaway poked good-natured fun at Michigan for shaving his head and taking his name. “I kept saying, ‘Yeah my name is (Carl).”
Hagelin, a 2007 draft choice of the Rangers, played four seasons at the University of Michigan and tallied 61 goals and 91 assists in 171 games. He noted he was the only European that the Wolverines brought over, which helped his “very average” english improve through his first year living in the United States.
“A lot of guys were on me about my english,” Hagelin said. “So I would say my first year I would say I learned a lot, kind of sat back and was quiet and kind of understood the entire culture, but also the language. Taking classes in english also helped as well.”
Hagelin’s brother, Bobbie, is a scout for the Calgary Flames and his sister, Helene, played D-III college basketball in Florida. So while Carl’s transition to the US was a bit of a unique start, he’s certainly made the most of it.
“When I came to talk to Red Berenson about potentially playing college hockey, he said, ‘You gotta know, this isn’t summer hockey camp anymore. This is the real deal,’” Hagelin recalled. “ ‘Maybe you can come over here and play junior hockey here for two years so we can take a look at you,’ and I wasn’t really ready to do that. I would turn pro in Sweden or play college hockey that year. Things changed and they asked me if I wanted to come play for them. And the rest is history.”