The Law of Jante
Posted by Dean Holden at April 3rd, 2014
by Kevin Hartzell, 27 March 2014
The hockey season is reaching its annual climax. The Minnesota High School Hockey tournament is now over. College hockey is in the heart of its playoff run to the crowning of a new national champion. It is a fun time of year with the NHL just weeks away from the greatest team tournament in sport: the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Here in Norway we too are in the middle of our playoffs. Last Monday, we won an exciting 2-1 nailbiter in game two of our best-of-seven semifinal playoff series here in Norway’s top professional league. The series is tied at one game apiece. We have been on an awesome run and in a position to reach the league finals for only the second time in the history of Lillehammer hockey. It sure has been a fun run thus far.
Speaking of runs, I went on a good run recently through beautiful Lillehammer. As I released a little nervous energy during my run, I was able to relax my mind a bit. Whenever I relax my mind, my brain starts to work a bit better, certainly freer to explore. I was thinking about the similarities of our Scandinavian culture in Minnesota to that of Norway. I also thought about Jante’s Law, hockey culture in my home state of Minnesota, Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau and Minnesota’s Kyle Rau.
Let me first backtrack a bit. Not long ago, I was asked by a couple of folks in Minnesota what I thought about the seemingly neverending discussion regarding Minnesota high school players leaving their prep programs “early” for junior hockey. I understand at times this year it has been a topic of conversation in Minnesota … again!
For me, I find the conversation to be old and a continual rehashing of the same arguments and opinions. People have their opinions and most are pretty set in their view of things. What I say is simply this: I could put together a long list of elite players who have decided to leave their high school programs early and an equally long list of elite players who have decided to stay and play out their high school eligibility. I believe that the vast majority of players who make up each list would tell us they made the right decision for them. To me, that is all that needs to be said. I thought that was my final thought on the subject, until I relaxed during a run and allowed my thinking to explore something new.
Next thought, Jante’s Law, or as it is also called, the Law of Jante. Jante’s Law is a belief in Scandinavian countries and in particular Norway and Denmark, that the individual should not put himself/herself above the group. It is not looked upon favorably to stand out from the crowd so to