Some things in life are bigger than the game and Buffalo Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark is unfortunately experiencing that now. He’s missed the past two games for personal reasons, and he shared the reason why with Sabres.com.
Ullmark found out right after Monday’s morning skate in Philadelphia that his father had passed away in Sweden.
“I had my worst pregame skate in my whole life, probably,” he said. “Usually when these things sort of happen, with me, there’s always been a common theme, and that’s been that my dad has either been very sick or that something bad has happened back home. I sensed that something was wrong.”
He said he’d been checking his phone a lot since his father entered the hospital early last week. When Ullmark reached the locker room, he found that he had a missed call from his mother.
“The hunch that I had was true,” he said. “She just wanted to call me and say that that afternoon, Dad left us. He left us around 5 very peacefully, calmly with her by his side.”
Ullmark was scheduled to start that night, but talked with the coaching and support staff about taking some time away from hockey.
“There was no question about it for me, personally,” he said. “…I just told them that hockey’s not a priority at the time. From there, it was basically just trying to deal with all the emotions that came. I’ve been kind of holding back.”
Carter Hutton started in his place on Monday and made 21 saves in a 6-1 win over the Flyers.
“Same thing for [Tuesday’s] game as well. I was in a better place, but not in the state of mind that I felt that I could go out there and perform the way I wanted to,” Ullmark said. “And, also, that I wasn’t done dealing with the emotions and the thoughts that I had – still have – regarding all this.”
After Monday’s game, Ullmark was surprised when he was handed the game puck by captain Jack Eichel.