Old Swedish friends Arvid Soderblom, Filip Roos thankful to have each other on Blackhawks

Soderblom and Roos grew up 20 minutes apart in Gothenburg, Sweden, and played two seasons together as teenagers. Now they’re teammates and close friends in Chicago.

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Blackhawks Arvid Soderblom (left) and Filip Roos (right).

Blackhawks Arvid Soderblom (left) and Filip Roos (right) have become close friends again after previously playing together in Sweden.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images; Nam Y. Huh/AP

On many days after practice, after taking off his gear and fulfilling any interview requests, Blackhawks defenseman Filip Roos leaves his stall and meanders over to the goaltenders’ side of the locker room.

There, Roos and Hawks goalie Arvid Soderblom smile and talk — mostly in Swedish — about whatever comes to mind.

‘‘It’s always nice having a Swede you know here,’’ Roos said.

Soderblom is more than just a countryman to Roos, however. The two were born eight months apart and grew up 20 minutes away from each other in Gothenburg, the second-largest city in Sweden.

They played against each other regularly growing up in Gothenburg’s youth leagues, then became teammates for the first time as late teenagers in the junior academy of Frolunda, Gothenburg’s pro team.

On Frolunda’s under-20 team in 2017-18, Roos had 12 points in 43 games and Soderblom went 15-14-0 with a .905 save percentage in 29 games.

In 2018-19, Roos and Soderblom made their big-league Frolunda debuts — each playing only one game — and spent most of their time on loan to Hanhals, a third-division semipro team located about 20 miles south of Gothenburg. Roos had 11 points in 24 games, and Soderblom went 18-19-0 with a .908 save percentage in 37 games.

Their paths diverged after that, but they both ended up experiencing career breakthroughs after landing in Skelleftea, a top-flight team in northeast Sweden. Those breakthroughs earned them NHL attention and, ultimately, contracts with the Hawks. The only difference was that Soderblom did so in 2020-21 and Roos in 2021-22.

When Roos was weighing the Hawks’ offer last spring, he and Soderblom reconnected. Soderblom later helped Roos, while they were training together during the latter half of the summer, prepare to move to Chicago. They’re now close friends again.

‘‘It’s pretty cool we’re here now together, four years later,’’ Soderblom said. ‘‘It has been a fun journey for both of us, ending up here in the same place.’’

Soderblom was the lone Swede last season in Rockford, a city not exactly known for its diversity. Swedish defenseman Erik Gustafsson was a fixture on the Hawks’ NHL roster at the time, but their paths crossed only briefly. At times, it was lonely.

The 2022-23 Hawks have one of the NHL’s smallest European contingents, one made up of only four players: Roos, Soderblom, Swiss forward Philipp Kurashev and Czech goalie Petr Mrazek. So coach Luke Richardson, despite being Canadian, appreciates what Roos and Soderblom provide each other.

‘‘We have a close team with a lot of new guys, and they’ve really jelled together,’’ Richardson said. ‘‘It’s always nice to have someone from where you’re from, no matter if you’re from Europe, Canada, the U.S. or wherever. It’s nice to have someone from your corner that you can talk a little bit of ‘home shop’ with.’’

Roos has rotated in and out of the Hawks’ third defensive pairing so far, notching three points in 10 games. Soderblom’s red-hot start, meanwhile, has cooled lately; he now sits at 2-4-1 with a .909 save percentage.

They’re there for each other through the good and bad nights alike, however, and hang out frequently away from the rink. Soderblom has served as Roos’ Chicago tour guide and offers restaurant recommendations. He even helped Roos set up his U.S. phone number.

And when they’re especially missing home, they’ve learned to love visits to IKEA — to buy furniture and meatballs.

‘‘We’re pretty similar, laid-back, chill guys,’’ Soderblom said. ‘‘He likes to have fun and take it easy. He’s a great guy to have around, and it’s fun to have him here now.’’

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