This past week, Winnipeg product Dale Weise officially put pen to paper on a professional contract with the Swedish Hockey League’s IK Oskarshamn. For the 32-year-old right winger, the 2021-22 season will be looked upon as an opportunity to prove his worth in one of the best European leagues around, while exploring the beautiful country of Sweden.
“I started talking to European teams in Russia, Switzerland and Sweden,” Weise told Game On. “Honestly, I just wanted to find the best situation where my family can come along with me. We want to live in a nice place that is safe and will provide a really good family experience. So that being said, I chose Sweden, and a team in Oskarshamn that really wanted me.”
Located in southeastern Sweden along the coast of the Baltic Sea, Oskarshamn is home to 20,000 locals – roughly the same number of people that could cram themselves into Montreal’s Bell Centre, pre-pandemic.
Spending five of his 10 NHL seasons with the Canadiens, Weise is ready for a change of scenery. Unable to secure an NHL contract for the 2020-21 season, the veteran winger opted to look for work overseas, rather than bounce around the minors.
“With the pandemic, I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to take an NHL tryout or even play in the American League for that matter last season,” Weise reflected. “So the question came down to if I wanted to play in the AHL when I knew this would have probably been my last year in North America anyway. With the AHL schedule not even set, I decided that I didn’t want to miss talking to teams early in Europe. So that really factored into my decision.”
Since beginning his lofty career at Gateway Recreation Centre in 1995 in the U-9 house league, Weise’s focus on top performance and a high-quality, on-ice product has taken him from AAA hockey to the Western Hockey League, and now through the National Hockey League’s New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens. But for Weise, Sweden is now the name of the game.
“Oskarshamn is a team that wanted me badly,” he said matter-of-factly. “First of all, that’s really great that a team actually wanted you, which really goes far me. The GM and the coach went out of their way to speak with me, and that holds a lot of weight; I just really liked what they had to say. I think we were all on the same page, that was big for me. I’m pumped up and ready to get the season going here.”
First impressions certainly mean a lot. And according to Weise, Oskarshamn presented him with the best overall feeling following his meeting with the club. While on the other hand, some teams were out of the running after just one conversation.
“It was funny because I had a few chats with some teams in Europe who said, ‘well you played a third or fourth line role in the NHL, so that’s kind of what we see for you here,’” Weise laughed. “I was just like, ‘ummm, what are you talking about?’ We all know that third or fourth line NHL guys are top line guys in any league in Europe. I think there was just a little disconnect on that side of it with some other teams. So again, I’m happy we are all on the same page here in Oskarshamn.”
Despite his eagerness, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound power forward will unfortunately have to wait another couple months before on-ice activity begins in Sweden. But hopefully he will be able to start training in Winnipeg within the coming weeks.
“I believe training camp starts August 2, so I’ll be leaving end of July as long as everything goes well,” Weise said. “I’m hoping restrictions in Winnipeg loosen up here on June 12th so that rinks can reopen. Because again, this is kind of something that handcuffed me in the fall and then again in January where I wasn’t even allowed to skate. It’s tough to not give yourself a chance. So if restrictions don’t open here pretty quickly I’m going to have to go somewhere else to start skating and training.”
While he waits, Weise has more than enough on his platter to which he can turn his attention. Now a father of four, the former Swift Current Broncos star of the mid-2000s has recently been juggling life as a professional athlete, while balancing parenthood and business ownership.
Alongside his recent real estate venture with Paragon Design|Build and his involvement with WowMoms World, the always industrious Weise has also recently begun an online Montreal Canadiens-relative platform, Habs Tonight, to which he brings high-profile guests online and talks all things Habs.
My rental building is coming along! pic.twitter.com/bOZEBJvXm7
— Dale Weise (@daleweise22) March 6, 2021
“Oh, for sure I’ll be continuing with all of that,” he said. “WowMoms and my real estate business are set up very nicely to be done passively for me. I have property managers managing my buildings. We’ve got a great partner in WowMoms who is essentially there every day running it. Habs Tonight has been a fun project that I threw together with a couple people and it’s been so easy to do. I hop on my computer and then we have some fun. So that’s something that is definitely easy to continue going forward.”
The former fourth round selection of the Rangers (2008) put up 55 goals, 125 points and 355 penalty minutes in 513 career regular season NHL games, while adding another six goals, 11 points and 26 penalty minutes in 45 postseason games over his career. Although having much familiarity with most of his peers in Canada, things will look a little different in Sweden next season.
“I could be the only Manitoban on the team,” Weise said. “They had another Winnipeg guy on defence last year, but I don’t know if he’s coming back next year. It’s actually Nolan Zajac, the youngest brother of Travis. I also did play with Philip Samuelsson for about a week in Lehigh Valley. He and I really kicked it off though, so we have been texting the last little bit here. It will be different, but I’m really excited.”