Tobias Johansson: Changing Hockey One Shift at a Time
Tobias Johansson: Changing Hockey One Shift at a Time

Tobias Johansson: Changing Hockey One Shift at a Time

Henrik Lundqvist. Daniel Alfredsson. John Klingberg. These NHL superstars have one thing in common: they originate from the legendary Swedish Hockey Club Frölunda, known worldwide for its superb player development. 

For nine years, Tobias Johansson helped continue the program’s esteemed track record, coaching many of the program’s junior teams and serving as Director of Player Development. During his time with the program, Johansson helped develop NHL sensations Rasmus Dahlin and Lucas Raymond, both of whom were recent top-four picks in the NHL Draft. 

Despite his tremendous success, Johansson had more to offer the hockey world, making the difficult decision to leave Frölunda. After nine successful seasons with the club that resulted in multiple NHL Draft selections and a Swedish Hockey National Championship, he joined the Norwegian Ice Hockey Federation, taking on the challenge of growing the game of hockey in Norway.

In 2021, Johansson was named Director of Player Development and Head Coach of the Men’s National Team. His primary task was to improve a young, but promising Norwegian squad. As Norway is known more for football, handball, and cross-country skiing, hockey lacks the popularity it has across other Scandinavian countries. Johansson’s goal was and remains to build a program in Norway that climbs to the top and stays there, not just one that experiences success for a few seasons. To make a real difference, Johansson knows the process takes time and it will be an effort from top to bottom. 

The 42-year-old from Ljungby, Sweden, has committed to not just the development of the nation’s players, but the growth of the coaches as well. As a coach himself, Johansson knows it’s not just the practice drills themselves that grow players, but also the person teaching the drills who can have a huge impact.

In addition to his fierce commitment to developing hockey in Norway, Johansson brings a unique and aggressive coaching philosophy to the game, which makes him one of the more influential coaches in the game today. His coaching philosophy contains three key elements;

“When we have the puck go forward, when we have the puck dare to play, and when we don’t have the puck pressure to get the puck back.”

Johansson has previously benched players in juniors for not attempting to beat a defender 1-on-1 at the blueline, a move that would go against what most coaches preach to their young players. Clearly an aggressive philosophy, he pushes his players to be creative and to try new things, especially at the youth level. 

While most coaches in hockey highlight the importance of creating 2-on-1s, Johansson takes on a different perspective. He aims to develop players who are strong and confident with the puck on their stick and can attract multiple defenders. He encourages his teams to seek 1-on-2s, situations where a single player attracts multiple defenders to draw the opposing team out of position, subsequently creating an odd-man rush. Johannson has gone away from the traditional style of coaching, so much so that he has removed the word “simple” from his coaching vocabulary.

Combining Johannson’s track record with Frölunda, his dedication to growing hockey in Norway, and his aggressive coaching style, results in one of the more unique and influential coaches in hockey. 

It will take some time, but under Johannson’s leadership, Norway is poised to grow and compete at the national level in the coming years. As a coach, he has the impact to change the game of hockey that very few other coaches possess.

This June, Johannson will share his experience with the global coaching community at the TCS Live Coaching Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Register today to learn from Johannson and over 35 other presentations from the best and brightest minds in the game.

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