STOCKHOLM -- It was 25 minutes south of here, in a suburb of Stockholm, where Fredrik Claesson grew up. He keeps an apartment near the Ericsson Globe, three minutes away, right by best friend Gabriel Landeskog. So he feels comfortable playing tour guide for his Ottawa Senators teammates during the NHL Global Series this week, ahead of the games on Friday (2 p.m. ET; NHLN, ALT, TSN5, RDS, NHL.TV) and Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, RDS, ALT, NHL.TV).
But while he has been taking his teammates to dinner -- at Hillenberg on Tuesday night -- and out for shopping, which was the plan for the off day on Wednesday, he agreed to take another group around on Wednesday morning: a half-dozen media members.
He was there to escort a group of Ottawa media -- and one interloper, me -- through the streets of Stockholm, from the team's hotel, through a park where the base of a monument turns into a skating rink in the winter, to take an approximation of a Swedish fika, a coffee break with a cookie or pastry that's taken any time of day; after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner. It affords people a chance to relax.
The outdoor rink brought him back, to his younger days and the outdoor rinks in Sweden. That was where he played, where he learned -- or at least where he learned what he didn't want to play.
"When I was younger we were playing outside a lot and I started as a goalie," Claesson said, smiling. "It was just freezing, so that was why I quit playing goalie. But now I'm here, so I'm happy."
For our fika, we went to Joe and the Juice, an option selected by Claesson that offers coffee, smoothies and sandwiches. He highly recommended the power shake, which combines strawberries, bananas and vanilla milk for a bright pink concoction that I can confirm was pretty darn delicious.
Claesson opted for a power shake and a coffee, along with a sandwich.
But we didn't stay long. The place was filling up and we were out the door, headed back for the park for photos of Claesson and a short interview session.
Along the way, he pointed out some of his favorite shopping (at NK), as we walked the streets where Claesson, despite being followed by a camera and a pack of people, didn't seem to be recognized that often. He was stopped once, just outside the hotel, for an autograph, and once more inside while standing in line at Joe and the Juice.
There, he was asked whether he played for a team; once he admitted that he did, he was asked for another signature. Not that this happens to him often.
He's not the star in Sweden, even in his hometown of Stockholm.
"I think that was because of all of you guys, actually," Claesson said, smiling. "It doesn't happen that often. It's more probably [Ottawa defenseman Erik] Karlsson and Landeskog."
But he was happy to stop and oblige, either way. And happy to be back here, in his town, showing it off. He's been looking forward to this since he first found out about it, from Landeskog.
"Super excited," Claesson said. "I didn't think this was something that was going to be able to happen. As soon as I heard of it and now we're here; I'm super excited. It's really fun to go back and see my family and friends and show you guys around Stockholm."