The Senators great Swedish adventure is underway. The plane ride over was uneventful although I envy those who can fall fast asleep on planes. It makes a 6 hour time change so much easier to take.
The first surprise when we landed in Göteborg (Gothenburg) was the smiling immigration officers. The ones in Ottawa are very good and very polite but our policies require filling out forms. Not a big deal but I have never landed in a country where they simply look at your passport; stamp and it welcome you to Sweden. Not forms to fill out at all.
The first thing we noticed when driving from the airport to the hotel was the landscape. We could have been on a trip to Sudbury. Pine trees lined the highway which was often cut through rock that looked exactly like the chunks of the Canadian Shield which were blasted out to make the highway into Sudbury.
The city is about the same size as Ottawa and in many ways is very similar. I now understand why Daniel Alfredsson often says Ottawa reminds him of his home. The weather is apparently standard Göteborg fall weather. Cool (about 12 degrees during the day), cloudy and periods of rain forecast for each day we are here.
The Senators had a light practice in the afternoon just to get the players legs moving after the long flight. The local media was out in full force to see Alfredsson. He is like a rock star here. His old club team Frölunda was playing tonight against a club called Rögle BK (the team Kenny Jonsson plays on). During the first intermission they unveiled Frölunda’s first Pillar of fame. They don’t really have a wall of fame. Alfredsson is the first to have a pillar on the concourse adorned with his image, story, signed stick and action shots. The 2nd player to be honored will be Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist who is also a Frölunda alum. This is a rare thing. Swedish hockey reflects Swedish life which is to rarely accentuate the individual over the team.
I have to say the Frölunda game was lots of fun to watch. The Euro fans bring drums and sing and clap through most of the game. Fireworks and flags that cover an entire section of seats are rolled out after each goal. Things you just don’t see at North American games.
The other thing you really don’t see much of in North America is the type of logo the Frolunda Indians have. It’s the head of an Indian chief in full head dress. We all know on our continent the political correctness debate about the logo’s of the Chicago Blackhawk’s and the Atlanta Braves.
The final thing for today is our hotel. The rooms are just like they were taken out of the displays at Ikea. They really do use this stuff over here in everyday life.
Tomorrow the agenda features something very interesting. After Senators practice Alfredsson is going to take the media on a walking tour of his home town. It is heartwarming to see how proud Daniel is of his home and how much of it he wants us all to see. This might be the first and last time this will happen during his career and he is clearly enjoying all of it.
See you at the rink.