Caps Visit Springsteen, Embassy
So the Caps lost again last night. The Caps always lose. Luckily, they also do fun things, like go to the Swedish Embassy, and to the Springsteen show. In fact, the team's Swedish stars did both those things this week.
"Great finish," Michael Nylander's wife Camilla said of the Springsteen show. "The fans went crazy."
"I liked him since I was probably 14 or 15," said Michael, who went to Springsteen with his wife and fellow Swede Nicklas BÃ¤ckstrÃ¶m. "It was very good. Of course, lots of people know his older songs more than his newer ones...."
"Actually he played new songs, from his new album, but in the last part of the concer he played old, old songs," Backstrom said. "I like them the best. It was a good concert. Were you there?"
No, I wasn't, but my editor was! If you're curious, Backstrom's favorite song is "The River," and his second-favorite is "Streets of Philadelphia."
Why write about such nonsense in the midst of this
losing desolation streak? Well, here's what Nylander said during our trip to the House of Sweden on Monday, when I asked about life on a struggling team.
"You have to separate the game," he said. "To be away, to be with your family. It's still gonna be a part of your life, [but] there's moments that you have a chance to separate them. If you dwell on it all day long, it's gonna be too much. We talk about it at the rink, and there's conversations popping up during the day about the team and how we're doing and what we can and should do differently. That has its place. But you have to enjoy the moment outside hockey. Otherwise you go crazy."
And so, on to the Swedish Embassy!
The invite sounded swell, although it didn't occur to me that if two Swedes visited the Swedish Embassy to have a meet-and-greet with Swedish employees, they all might talk in, you know, Swedish. Which they did. So I sat in the embassy's kitchen/lounge and looked at all the modern furniture and modern appliances and modern healthy blond people drinking coffee and wearing modern dark-framed glasses and laughing pleasantly, and waited until they were done making hilarious Swedish jokes, so I could eat some cookies and then watch Nylander's youngest daughter, Daniella, sprint off into the office of Anneli Nilsson. Meanwhile, I scanned recent editions of HÃ¤nt Extra and Svensk DAM.
The King was scheduled to come later in the week, but we were told that the embassy employees were more excited about Backstrom and Nylander. And Backstrom and Nylander were happy to tour what I can easily say was the coolest embassy I've ever seen; it's called House of Sweden, it opened last year, it has exhibit space and lots of visitors. The rooftop terrace overlooking the Potomac and the Kennedy Center, the warm breeze, the books about Swedish architect Gert Wingardh that Nylander stopped to read; all was suitably pleasing.
Since we were surrounded by so much Swedish stuff, it seemed natural to ask the players questions about Sweden. Like, what do you miss?
"Actually, I like U.S., I don't feel I want to go back right now," Backstrom said. "I like it here. We have some Swedish connection with Michael; that's perfect. Only thing left to do is start winning."
The Nylanders go back to Sweden every offseason; they haven't decided yet if they'll stay in the U.S. when his playing days are done, but they both spoke very highly of this town. One of their children was even born at Sibley Hospital. "Absolutely gorgeous city," said Camilla, who has lived in four U.S. towns during Nylander's career.
Plus, Backstrom comes over to the Nylanders two or three times a week; he went to Nylander's son's hockey game last weekend. "I'm not the babysitter; I'm his seventh kid," Backstrom said. Plus, there are more and more Swedish food stores in the U.S., so you can even get your favorite Scandinavian foodstuffs. "Like what?" I asked Nylander.
"Different types of cheeses," he said. "Not real hard, but harder [than American cheese] for sure. It's different flavors to it; we use it on bread in the morning."
Swedish cheese! But of course! VÃ¤sterbotten! Herrgardost! Something else I've never heard of!
(He didn't mention it, but oh my goodness, Smoked Reindeer Cheese? Are you serious?)
Anyhow, there, you've forgotten about hockey now, haven't you?
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