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Ericsson can only imagine

by Dan Rosen / Detroit Red Wings
STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Jonathan Ericsson put himself in the shoes of a 13-year-old Swedish boy, something he was just a dozen years ago. What would he have done to secure a ticket to one of the games in the 2009 Compuware NHL Premiere-Stockholm?

"Just about anything," Ericsson told

Ericsson said he recalls a time when Wayne Gretzky came to Stockholm to play an exhibition game and the tickets were gobbled up "like five minutes after they got released. I didn't have any hopes of getting one."

So he can only imagine what it feels like to be a youngster with a ticket in hand to see the Red Wings and Blues at the Ericsson Globe on Oct. 2 and 3.

"People can't just travel to us to watch a hockey game, so it's nice that we're going to them and they can all watch it there," Ericsson said.

Don't kid yourself -- Ericsson is pinching himself, too.

He grew up in Norrkoping, which is about 90 minutes south of Stockholm, and first became enamored with the NHL when he was 8 years old. NHL Hockey, the first installment of EA Sports' NHL video-game series, came out on Sega Genesis and Ericsson thought it was "really cool" that you could shoot hard enough to break the glass.

"I was 8 and I started to play a lot of video games with the NHL on Sega," Ericsson said. "After that I got more interested in watching games. It started with those video games, though."

A few years later, Nicklas Lidstrom was establishing himself as one of the world's best defenseman. As still is the case for many Swedish kids today, Lidstrom was Ericsson's favorite player and he never missed a game.

"Even though the time difference was six hours back home and the games were in the middle of the night, whenever Detroit was playing I always wanted to watch those games just because Nick was playing," Ericsson said. "I didn't record them. I had my own TV in my room so I turned the cable on and watched the game in there."

Ericsson's days of watching Lidstrom from afar and searching for tickets to see an NHL game in person obviously are finished. Instead, he has been trying to find tickets for friends and family who want to see him play alongside Lidstrom.

"We had to order our tickets before we left to go back to Sweden, and I wish I could have gotten more," Ericsson said. "I have to prioritize who I give my tickets to because I don't have that many."
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