And I haven't seen a single one because I've been running around Scandinavia with my wife on our honeymoon. Although, do you know what I have seen? Swedish hockey. Three games of it. Live. And now I have thoughts. Five thoughts, specifically. Well, more than five, but Eight Thoughts for Friday doesn't have the same ring to it.
For those curious, the three games I attended: Timrå IK at Djurgårdens IF. Brynäs IF at MODO. Växjö Lakers at Frölunda Indians.
Here's what's on my mind in Five Thoughts for Friday, Scandinavian Edition:
1. On Djurgårdens: Mika Zibanejad's former team was demoted to the Allsvenskan (second-tier Swedish league) a few years back, and when Zibanejad was sent back the Senators were less than thrilled with how the team developed him. I can see why. The Allsvenskan is not a very good league, and every team is focused on getting back into the Swedish Hockey League (formerly Elitserien), meaning they're playing their best players and not worrying about developing future stars. EDIT: As pointed out on Twitter, Djurgårdens was in the SEL at the time of Zibanejad's return.
2. On Marcus Sorensen: Former Senators prospect Marcus Sorensen plays for Djurgårdens right now, and oh boy is he good. Or, at least, he's too good for the second-tier. Sorensen's biggest drawback is that he doesn't play defence. At all. He's also scrawny and doesn't play very physical. But he cycles between wing and the right point on the power play and looks deadly. Scored the overtime winner to end a ridiculous match.
3. On Frölunda: As the developer of current Senators Robin Lehner and Erik Karlsson, as well as former Senator Daniel Alfredsson, I naturally gravitate towards Frölunda as my SHL team of choice. Unfortunately, the team is called the Frölunda Indians, and their entire identity is really racist. I picked up some Frölunda gear, including two jerseys, but I'll be sure to only wear them at home. As the Swedish friend I went to the game with said, "it's not really considered racist in Sweden because we don't have indians, they're a mythical creature." We should all have more cultural sensitivity, no matter where we're from.
4. On the Scandinavium: If you watched the Frölunda-Ottawa exhibition match five seasons ago, you saw the inside of the Scandinavium, Göteborg's premier venue. What you couldn't tell from the TV cameras is just how North Americanized the arena is. Of the three arenas I went to games in (Scandinavium in Göteborg, Hovet in Stockholm, and Fjällräven Center in Örnsköldsvik), and the three I went to and didn't see games in (ABB Arena in Västerås, Läkerol Arena in Gävle, and Cloetta Center in Linköping), the Scandinavium definitely felt the most like an NHL arena. That's not a good thing. From McDonald's to the only instance of "Make Some Noise" on the scoreboard, this rink felt the least Swedish. And not a single Robin Lehner or Erik Karlsson jersey to be found!
5. On Brynäs IF: While driving around the country, I made a stop at the arena in Gavlë that Brynäs IF plays at to get a jersey. The store at the rink was awesome, far and away the best I visited. But what really made it special was the manager. When he saw my Senators hat, we immediately began talking about Jakob Silfverberg. He taught me how to say Jakob properly (and it wasn't any of the three ways Silfverberg himself decided it should be said), and then we watched highlights on YouTube for ten minutes. He explained the #100 jersey that Silfverberg wore (it was the team's 100th anniversary), and we marveled at his wrist shot. The manager told me to go check out the arena and come back through the store on my way out. When I returned, he'd found a printed photo of Silfverberg - autographed - and gave it to me. We might cherish our former players in North America, but it's nothing like the Swedes do. I now understand why they go home.