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Global Series

Childhood friends Landeskog, Claesson excited for homecoming

Avalanche forward, Senators defenseman expect to have fond memories during 2017 SAP NHL Global Series in Stockholm

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

STOCKHOLM -- Born one day apart in Stockholm, Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog and Ottawa Senators defenseman Fredrik Claesson grew up playing hockey together in Sweden's capital city and became good friends.

Never in their wildest hockey dreams did they imagine they would one day face each other in the NHL in their hometown, but that's exactly what will happen at Ericsson Globe on Nov. 10 and 11 when the Avalanche and Senators play two regular-season games as part of the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series. It will be the sixth time the NHL has played a regular-season game in Europe, and the first time since 2011.

"I grew up 10, 15 minutes away from downtown," Landeskog said during the European Player Media Tour on Thursday. "If you would have told me at any point of my life so far that I was going to play an NHL game in Stockholm, I would have just laughed. It's going to be an unbelievable week first and foremost."

The buildup has already begun with signs advertising the games around city. It's also been a topic of conversation between Landeskog and Claesson when they've worked out together here during the offseason.

"He's one of my best buddies, so it's going to be weird seeing him here in 'The Globe', but it's going to be fun," Claesson said.

Now 24, Landeskog said he and Claesson have known each other since they were 12 or 13 years old. Landeskog's Nov. 23, 1992 birthday makes him one day older.

"We're still close today," Landeskog said. "We talk on a daily basis. It will be a fun time and a fun week. I'll be excited."

Video: NHL Tonight on November's Global Series

Claesson believes playing in Stockholm will be special for all of the Swedish players on the Senators and Avalanche. That includes Senators defensemen Erik Karlsson (Landsbro), Johnny Oduya (Stockholm) and Andreas Englund (Stockholm), and Avalanche center Carl Soderberg (Malmo) and defenseman Anton Lindholm (Skelleftea).

"It's great for us," Claesson said. "My grandmothers have never seen me play in the NHL and they're too old to fly [to North America], so now they can go and see the games here and I can meet them after and we can have dinner. I think it's great for youth hockey here in Sweden, too, that kids can see what kind of level it is and how hard you have to work to get to the NHL, so I think it's good for everyone."

The Senators were one of four NHL teams who traveled to Europe to play in the Bridgestone NHL Premiere 2008. After playing an exhibition game against Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League, the Senators opened their regular season by splitting two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Ericsson Globe. 

This will be the first time the Avalanche play a regular-season game in Europe, but they participated in the 2001 NHL Challenge Series and defeated Brynas IF of the Swedish Elite League 5-3 in an exhibition game in Stockholm.

Landeskog, the Avalanche captain, first played at "The Globe" as a child. Going back there as an NHL player will be surreal.

"We used to have gold-medal games of our [youth] tournaments here, and to be able to play in front of my family and friends and my hometown, my old classmates, it will be cool," Landeskog said. "And then on the other hand, getting to show my [Avalanche] teammates around, show them where I'm from, that will be neat. I see most of their hometowns when we're [in North America]."

Claesson expects the Swedish fans to provide an electric atmosphere with their usual enthusiasm.

"In Sweden, they sing a lot," he said. "I don't know if they have any chants or anything like that for Ottawa or Colorado, but I think it's going to be loud and it's going to be good."

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