Today, September 29, 2012 I signed a contract with the Kramfors Alliance in the Swedish Division 1 league. I am returning to Sweden for another season after my two applications for a UK work visa have been denied. Also, my coach form last season, Janne Huokko, will be coaching me again this season. I am extremely excited to be able to return back to Sweden where my professional career was resurrected and have another opportunity to share my experience with a younger team. I will be travelling to Sweden on Monday and arriving sometime on Tuesday. I look forward to playing Friday in the teams next game. I would like to thank my agent, Mike Bernier, for arranging this scenario on such short notice. It has been an extremely hectic last couple of months, but I am finally getting an opportunity to play hockey again this season. I look forward to updating all of you in the near future.
***UPDATE*** Since the Blaze have released a statement regarding my visa application, I think it is only fair to let the fans and public know the details of what happened. I received an email from the UKBA a couple of days ago informing me that I have been rejected of my visa for the second time. In their email, the UKBA said that a detailed letter would be sent to me regarding the reason for my denial along with my passport and other documents. I informed the Blaze and our players about the decision. After speaking with Coach Thompson, we felt it best to hold off on releasing the information regarding the decision until we had ALL necessary documents in our possession detailing the reason behind the denial. That way, we could properly informa the Coventry faithful on our plan of attack and whether or not we would be able to appeal the decision. I took it upon myself to inform a Coventry Blaze season ticket holder, Pete McCue, about the decision the UKBA handed down. My reason for this was simple: Pete McCue, as you all know, started an online petition trying to win me favor in the UK and sway the UKBA's minds regarding my decision. Pete also spoke to members of the local Coventry media expressing his views and thoughts about how I should be permitted into the country. Moreover, Pete spoke to local MP's about my case trying to gain some political support on my behalf. I knew about all of this as Pete would update me regularly. I was very much appreciative of everything that he did for me, as anyone in my position would have been. Therefore, when I was denied, I did not want Pete to be running around Coventry trying to gain me support when my visa had already been denied. I was trying to save Pete time and effort by informing him of my decision. However, with trying to do the right thing came a blindside out of nowhere. I was accused of blocking Pete from twitter and unfollowing him as well. There was absolutely no reason whatsoever to block or unfollow Pete after everything he did for me. That would be ludicrous on my part. If I had blocked or unfollowed Pete then why did I still follow and not block all of my other UK followers? I tried to illustrate the truth behind my statement with submitting two photos on twitter last night. I hope that the fans in Coventry and the great people of the UK can see the truth that I am trying to portray. In the end, the people that get hurt are you - the fans. A season ticket holder had NO right to leak information that was sensitive like that no matter what the circumstances were. That information was up to the Blaze and/or myself to release. I will take the responsibility for trusting someone that I should not have and offer my apologies to anyone that feels that they have been wronged in this process. Once again, like I said in my tweet last night, as soon as I have ALL information/reasoning regarding a decision from the UKBA, it will be announced. I will pass along all information to the Blaze and we will decide the course of action that should be taken next. Thanks again for all of your support and my deepest apologies for anyone that feels taking advantage of.
***UPDATE*** Yesterday, September 14, the UK Border Agency got back to me regarding my entry visa. I was told that my case is an exceptional one that needs a little more time to make an informative decision. They told me that they would make a decision as expeditiously as possible. I am taking this as a good sign. If the UKBA wanted to deny my second application then they easily could have done that already. Hopefully, the powers that be are looking into my case with a little more sympathy and recognizing the changes for the good I have made over the last nine years of my life. I would anticipate a decision coming early next week. Keep your fingers crossed.
Today, August 29, I reapplied for my UK entry visa. I had my biometrics appointment this afternoon and couriered my application to the UK Border Agency immediately after. My documents should be arriving in New York tomorrow morning and I should be hearing back from the UKBA within the next week. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that my application gets viewed in a little bit more of a sympathetic light. There is nothing more that I can do. It is out of my control and the decision rests solely in the hands of the UKBA. Let's try to respect whatever decision they come to.
Last month, I signed a one-year contract with the Coventry Blaze of the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL). I will be looking forward to stepping on UK soil for the first time in late August. We have put together a fiercely skilled team this year in Coventry that should be able to contend with every team in the league. I have not been more excited to start a season since my last season in the NHL. This will be my second professional season in Europe after playing in both Sweden and Austria last year. I enjoyed success in both countries last year. Only thing standing in my way is the UK border agency. Fingers crossed that there are no issues with my entry visa.