Saturday, October 9, 2010

Who's that? That's Kent Huskins

Hej from Stockholm! The city has been awesome so far. It's beautiful, has good public transport, everybody speaks English (notable exception: cab drivers. We must have told ours to take us to the Hilton, not the Sheraton, half-a-dozen times and he still had us within a block of the Sheraton before we got through to him) and they're all really helpful. It helps that I like colder weather. The streets are cobblestone and the architecture is ancient. It's a hipster's wet dream; bicycles have their own roads, there are coffee shops all over town, and the weather means nobody looks stupid wearing a pea coat and a scarf. Our first night here my family and I visited the Vasa museum. The Vasa is a Swedish warship dating back to the era of shipwrighting before they figured out that new ships could be designed with mathematics instead of just trial and error. The ship sunk in the harbor on its maiden voyage in 1629, but since it was in the supercold harbor the whole ship has been remarkably well preserved. It was only brought to the surface again in the 1960's. Maybe not something that I would have chosen to do, but it was definitely worth a look.

Thursday was a fan-viewable practice and a player "meet and greet." I put that in quotes because was more like the players trickling through the gauntlet of a hundred fans on their way to the bus. Just a mad scramble for autographs and pictures. There wasn't any structure to speak of, and if it had been in San Jose it would have been intolerable, but as it was with the limited number of fans on the trip it was pretty exciting to say hi to all the players, to congratulate Jumbo Joe on his new child and Niemi on his Stanley Cup (I didn't know what I was saying; it just came out), and to tell Logan Couture that it's nice for somebody awesome to be wearing the number 39 again. I overheard some guy congratulating Boyle on becoming the captain. That must've rubbed a little salt in, given that Danny Boyle had heard only minutes before that Joe Thornton had been named captain. It's interesting to see the kind of fans that have come on this trip. Most of them seem to purchase the Sharks ten-game pack or split season tickets with several other people, some are season ticket holders. But there is one thing it appears everybody had in common: no one could recognize Kent Huskins.

At practice: "Who's that?"
Me: "That's Kent Huskins."
5 minutes later: "Who's THaT?"
Me: "That's Kent Huskins again! They just switched sides."
Lady at the team meet & greet: "I don't think I recognize any of these kids up from Wooster."
Me: "Well, that's Kent Huskins."

Lady: "Oh!!"
It went on.
I guess he's just got one of those faces.
Had a conversation with Dan Rusanowski regarding why Thomas Greiss wasn't given any game time during the Mannheim game. The goalies for Mannheim switched at the half-way point of the game. He said that the decision was to not reward Greiss by playing in his home country because, with their first game less than a week later, it was important to prepare for the coming season. When I asked if you shouldn't play your German players if the purpose of the exhibition game was to grow the sport in Germany, Dan said, "Not the goalie." (He also confirmed that Jeff Friesen still plays for the Berliner Eisbaeren)
One complaint this post, at the risk of coming across as a spoiled ingrate: The gifts we got from the Premiere Sports Package were chintzy and lame, verging on insulting. My parents celebrated their thirtieth anniversary by going to Japan for the the Sharks GAME ONe a dozen or so years ago. They each received an authentic jersey with the GAME ONe patch on the sleeve. Naturally, my family and I had been hoping for and half-expecting one the jerseys the Sharks are wearing here with the Stockholm patch on the chest and the XX twentieth anniversary patch on the sleeve. What we got when we checked into the hotel 6,000 miles later was a puck, a give-away bag with cords for straps, and a tiny plastic helmet you don't buy at the store for $15 because what are you gonna do with that piece of junk? It's also a huge pain to pack for the ride home. Maybe not everyone feels that way, but I can tell you it's not just me.
Oh, one last travel tip from Stockholm:

We were walking about the city with a Swedish relative of ours who lives ten blocks from our hotel, looking for a place to eat, and after the first restaurant was too expensive and the next two had too long of a wait, we just stepped into what looked like a pub. Apparently, and according to our local relative, every bar here is required by law to have a full kitchen and to serve food! So if you ever find yourself in a similar position, the cheapest and most fun way to go may just be the local bar.

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