With more than half the season behind them, Berglund and Luleå are looking for a strong second half and a chance to repeat their regular season success of last year.
Currently sitting at the top of the standings with 62 points in 31 games played, Luleå is on pace for another successful campaign. Last season saw the team finish second overall in the regular season, putting up their second highest point total in club history at 101 points. They haven't seemed to miss a step this season as they have given themselves a decent chance to equal or potentially eclipse last seasons point total. That success, Berglund says, is due to the depth and the hard work of all guys on the roster.
– First of all we have a good team and we were able to keep key players from last season. Not only that but we've added some good players as well, we had successful scouting pre season so we have a good team. We battle hard every night as well and every player plays for the team, not themselves, we don't have any egos on the team.
Keeping consistency in the roster from season to season is no easy task. Many teams see a large amount of turnover from one season to the next. Whether it's losing young guys to North America, players moving to different leagues around Europe, or simply moving to another SHL team, it's always hard to keep a roster fully intact. However, this years Luleå team features more than a dozen returning players from last year, including their big scorers like Robin Kovács, Jack Connolly and Nils Lundqvist.
– I think many of the players like to play in Luleå. We have a team that is established as one of the top teams in the league right now. Not only that, I think many of the players want to play on a kind of team that stands for something, we play as a team and a lot of players want to play on a team that work for eachother so hard.
Due to their success last season, Luleå is back in the Champions Hockey league this year. Although it's extra travel and adds extra games to the schedule, Berglund says it has been a positive thing for the team this season.
– I think the CHL has been really positive for us. First of all we've met some great teams around Europe, in Germany, Czech Republic and Switzerland and I think its been a great experience for all of our players. CHL is a tournament that we said at the beggining that we want to win it and we have played good so far. Hopefully we can beat Frölunda at home and play the final in February.
Although they currently sit at the top of the standings they are just three points ahead of Färjestad, four ahead of Örebro and remain within striking distance of every team in the top six. In a league that is always so close right up until the end, a hot streak for one team and a skid for another can drastically change the standings in the blink of an eye. However, Berglund says hes got his eye on a couple teams he thinks will be their biggest threat in the second half of the season.
– I think Frölunda and Färjestad are going to be our biggest challenges this season. Some other teams are good as well, but those two teams in particular are the ones I think will be most competitive.
The SHL has always had a North American presence that varies from season to season. in the 2017/18 season there were 39 Canadians and 22 Americans. Jump to this season and we see only 20 Canadians and 13 Americans, an 8 year low for North American content. Berglund says he believes this is due to the risks associated with bringing over players who don't have experience in this league.
– I think the teams are aware that it's not easy to play in the SHL even if you've had success in leagues like the AHL. It's not easy to come here and score points on the same level as the AHL. It's a tactical league that is very skilled and I'm not sure all the players from North America have what it takes to become a successful player in the SHL. The Swedish teams are some of the best in Europe and I think the teams don't want to pay much money to players that they don't know are going to be successful. They've seen many players from North America that have had a good career in North America but in Sweden it's not that easy. I think most of the teams are thinking twice before they pay players big money to get them here.
Any SHL fan will be aware that before his coaching days, Thomas Berglund was a mainstay on the Luleå roster. Having retired from playing after the 2004/05 season, he took no time off and instead immediately jumped in to his role behind the bench. Taking over as head coach for his home town team of Piteå HC the very next season, Berglund says coaching was always something he knew he wanted to do.
– I don't think it's natural for everyone to become a coach, but I was interested even when I was playing, so it was natural for me to become a coach. I don't think it's natural for a lot players to make that jump from playing to coaching, not everyone is interested in the tactical parts or the leadership I don't think everybody has that desire. But I was pretty much determined to become a coach and so for me it was a natural step.
Berglund currently sits fourth overall in Luleå club history with 669 regular season games played over the span of 17 seasons. After his retirement from playing he jumped from Division 1, to SuperElit, became the Assistant Coach in Luleå before being named Head Coach in Brynäs and then in 2017/18 became the bench boss of his former team.
– It meant a lot to me to come back to Luleå. I was in Brynäs for the two and half seasons before that and had a good experience there. I think it was a natural step for me to come back and coach in Luleå where I had so many seasons as a player and where I have my roots. It's really nice that they wanted to have me as a coach and I think we do a good job together now.
Favorite TV Show: Peaky Blinders
Movie: I like historical dramas or documentaries. Especially things about World War 2.
Music Genre: I like most music. I like Avicii
Meal: A good steak with french fries
NHL Team: I've only watched one NHL game live and it was Toronto, so I like to follow them
Dream Car: A red Ferrari