After spending 2 full days in this wonderful European city... what is the craziest thing I've seen?
Mr. Bean is still making movies.
As I touched down in Stockholm after a 12 hour flight from Los Angeles via Frankfurt... I knew I was in the right place. And the locals even made sure the King of Sweden was there to greet me.
Realizing that the aloof stare of Borje Salming wasn't the exact thing that would make tourists comfortable in their country, the Swedes also had a greeter that was known to be a little bit softer.
There was also a Peter Forsberg welcome sign but I was told
they just took it down after putting it back up last year after
taking it down the year before.
After checking into my hotel, I did what any other red-blooded American would do when visiting a small European country known for its amazing design and fashion... I went to a Swedish Elite League hockey game!
This is the Ericsson Globe, where the Kings and Rangers will be playing Friday night.
Tonight was AIK vs HV71 in the battle of the teams with initials for names. The Hovet Arena is like any minor league or high-end youth arena I've been to before.
But like most things I'm noticing here in Stockholm... the ushers are cuter than any I've ever seen at an NHL arena.
When you walk into the arena, you immediately feel like you are on the ice.
Or maybe it's just because the 1 bar is inside of boards and glass.
The colors of AIK are black and gold. Which made me feel like I was at a Pittsburgh sports souvenir shop.
The fans of AIK are known as the "Black Army." And like any good Army recruiters, they had a booth to sign you up as soon as you walked in.
And how could you watch a hockey team play in Black and Gold and not expect an elite leading scorer to be on it?
And by "elite leading scorer" of course I'm referring to Dick Tarnstrom
and his 52 points that led the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2003-04 season.
Enough walking around! Let's sit down and enjoy this game with the thousands of Swedes who love high level ice hockey, huh?
Wait, I was told the Swedes love hockey. What is this, Phoenix?
Just like a NHL arena, the rafters of the Hovet Arena paid tribute to the past.
I think we all remember how Bert-Ola Nordlander lifted a nation.
Then, as a life-long Los Angeles Kings fan... I saw something that shocked me.
An on-ice castle that was WAAAY cooler than ours.
And in order to get the several hundred people who were in attendance up and moving... AIK put together the sleepiest opening intro montage I've ever seen....
Who cares about intro packages? It's time to drop the puck!
Much like soccer games, at the arena in Stockholm you couldn't sit down against the glass. There were boards put up about 6 feet away from the arena. So instead, most fans sat in higher up rows.
And you had no trouble picking out which one was the referee... he was the one with the bad sunburn on his arms.
Much like a college football game, there was a dedicated "fans" section where the most intense members of the Black Army were sitting.
Excuse me, could you tell me where the Supporter section is?
And much like a college football game, they stood up during the entire game.
And much like a college football game... I'm pretty sure they were wasted.
He's also the Captain.
AIK was all over HV71 from the start... leaping out to a 5-2 lead by the end of the 2nd period. The Swedish Elite League is definitely some great hockey. But try to imagine a league made entirely of Dustin Brown and the Vancouver Canucks... and you'll get some sense of the amount of diving you'll see in a typical Swedish Elite League game.
Now I know why Ikea comes from Sweden...
you have to put everything together yourself there.
Being a life-long Kings fan had really prepared me for this game... so when AIK had a 7-2 lead with 15 minutes left in the 3rd period... I knew that HV71 had them right where they wanted them.
Forget about Friday's Kings-Rangers game. After losing a 5 goal lead in the 3rd period
the Swedish fans at this game are getting the true Los Angeles Kings fan experience.
So as their favorite hockey team was suffering the worst collapse in Swedish Elite League history in 10 years, I did what any other hockey fan would do... I joined them.
The Swedes are not known for a lot of emotion, but I'm pretty sure this says "pissed off."
But through it all... they kept cheering and cheering.
Sorry for the blurriness... I'm still learning a new camera.
When your favorite hockey team is blowing a 5 goal lead in the 3rd, as a dedicated fan what do you do?
You turn around your fan section banner in shame... that's what you do.
Or maybe it's the Swedish version of the rally cap?
A couple of the home team healthy scratches were sitting in front of me
and they couldn't believe what was happening.
And the fans took their banner and went home.
It was great to meet fellow dedicated Kings fan, Kids2Kings, at the game as well as a couple other Kings fans who have made the journey to Europe for NHL Premiere. After crashing out from the jetlag, I woke up the next day, ready to explore Stockholm.
I'm just saying... I didn't see "Mario's Coffee" anywhere in the city.
Although I thought it was Green Tea that Wayne was selling.
I saw the off-season home that Drew Doughty is going to buy...
... and the boat.
I know that Stockholm isn't supposed to be showing favorites in the Kings-Rangers game,
but this is just blatant homerism.
If Bjorn Borg can have his own underwear line...
why doesn't Peter Forsberg have a line of fashionable foot braces?
In Gamla Stan, at a Swedish souvenir shop...
I saw the greatest Russian hockey shirt I've ever seen.
It even had a scorecard attached.
As I walked around the amazing city of Stockholm, the one thing I learned about the upcoming NHL Premiere games was this.
It's the 2nd hottest ticket in town next to Britian's top Pink Floyd tribute band.
I just wish there was some way to visually represent how beautiful the city of Stockholm is.