Wait a minute, Patrik Berglund
wondered, is that my face on all those fliers?
Indeed it was. And yes, strange would be the appropriate word to use right now.
During a day trip to Stockholm in late July, Berglund, the young St. Louis Blues
center who is from nearby Vasteras, also the hometown of Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom
, felt like he was staring into a mirror as he glanced at the advertisements decorating downtown to promote the Compuware NHL Premiere-Stockholm.
"I saw my own face on the fliers and (Henrik) Zetterberg as well as Lidstrom," Berglund told NHL.com. "That was a little weird. I didn't know about that. It was fun and a little unreal, kind of hard to believe."
While categorizing the Blues' journey to Stockholm as "a business trip," Berglund also admits he's bursting with excitement.
It's one thing to realize his dream of playing in the NHL, but playing an NHL game in Sweden is "almost a bigger dream," one that was too farfetched to imagine just a year ago when Berglund was entering his rookie season and getting comfortable in North America.
"It's a real big deal for me," said the 21-year-old Swede, who had 21 goals and 26 points as a rookie last season. "You're playing in the NHL and going home to play the Detroit Red Wings
, our rivals and the team with all the Swedes. It's just an exciting moment."
For Anders Berglund, too.
Anders, Patrik's father and a former teammate of Lidstrom's for Vasteras IK in the Swedish Elite League, had 11 people with him at Friday's game and 22 more, including many business associates, at Saturday's game.
Anders saw Patrik play in eight games last season and he was also in Montreal for the YoungStars Game presented by Upper Deck during All-Star Weekend. This experience will easily top those.
"Yeah, it's quite emotional, of course," Anders, who is now a sales manager for an office supply company in the Nordic area, told NHL.com. "Actually, when you are a father like me you don't really enjoy it because you are very nervous. You want the kid to have some success and everything, but it's very emotional and I'm of course very proud of him."
Patrik played for VIK Vasteras HK in the HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden's second highest league behind the Swedish Elite League, from 2005-08. He remembers only one time playing at Ericsson Globe, but it was a national team game and he didn't recall the details.
In fact, Stockholm, even though it's only an hour drive east from Vasteras, is not a city he knows all too well. He said if his teammates were looking for a tour guide, they might have to look elsewhere.
"Even though I live close, my hometown is pretty big itself," he said. "I have to be a translator for the guys when they need it but I don't know if I can show them around."