You can go home again

Children have their first idols close. The first ones are their parents and siblings, and then when the venture outside of the house, the cool (bigger) kids at school and sports teams, and naturally, for hockey playing kids in Europe, the players on their hometown teams and then the national team and NHL stars, although things have changed somewhat in the 21st century, with the access to NHL games having gotten better. Even then, often children idols are NHLers that come from the same country as them.

No wonder then that Anders Engqvist, a big, lanky kid who lived five minutes from the rink in a northern Stockholm suburb found an idol who also was a big, lanky kid from a northern Stockholm suburb. Also a right-hand shot, who had also started his career elsewhere but ended up in Djurgarden, one of the oldest hockey clubs in Sweden.

That they’re both right-hand shots and centers also made the comparison between them almost too easy to draw when Engqvist was coming up the ranks. That’s how a local scout described him to Djurgarden and maybe that’s why he had turned down a contract offer from AIK, the other big club in Stockholm.

Of course, by the time Engqvist made his men’s league debut with Spanga in Division 2 in 2003, Sundin had been the Toronto Maple Leafs captain for six years, and had won three World Championship titles with Team Sweden.

Four years after having signed with Djurgarden – or seven years ago – Engqvist led the team in playoff scoring with 13 points in 16 games as they went all the way to the final. They lost to HV71 in six games but five of the six games were decided in overtime. After the season Engqvist followed in Sundin’s footsteps, and left for the NHL when he signed with the Montreal Canadiens.

Since then, he’s played for five different teams in the NHL, the AHL, and the KHL, but now he’s back.


Continue reading

Gospel of Boston

His father and grandfather built houses, but rather than homes, Jonas Reinholdsson is turning his O’Learys into a sports bar empire.

“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.” That’s the opening line of the 1980s TV show Cheers, about a Boston bar, its staff and all the regulars. Cheers was the place where “everybody knows your name.”

And it was that kind of place Jonas Reinholdsson wanted to open when, as a 26- year-old looking for a fresh start, he bought a debt-laden Gothenburg restaurant for one Swedish krona.

Today, Reinholdsson’s single restaurant has grown into more than 130 franchises in 12 countries. Most are in the Nordics but as far as Reinholdsson is concerned, the journey has only just begun – he foresees 150 restaurants in the Nordics and 250 restaurants in total by 2019.

“I want to grow into one of the world’s biggest restaurant chains. We opened 21 new bars in 2016, we’ll do 25 this year, 35 more in 2018 and 50 in 2019,” he says. “If things go to plan, we’ll be opening one restaurant per week.”

Continue reading

Do the unna

There I was, leaning against a construction site wall, looking out to Sergels Torg, the heart of Stockholm’s downtown. That’s the location of the main subway station and the commuter station hub, with a tunnel connecting it to the main train station. It’s also the place for markets and on most days, demonstrations of all sizes and for all causes.

Right behind me on the wall, there was a gigantic H&M logo and in front of me, a stage where a band was playing Swedish pop. All around me, there were blue-and-yellow flags, and faces and wigs, also blue-and-yellow, as Stockholmians got ready to celebrate the nation’s beloved hockey team, Tre Kronor, the national team that had won the world championship the night before.

Continue reading

Baby’s got blue eyes

For longer than I care to admit, I’ve known that “baby’s got blue eyes”. How blue? Well, like a “deep blue sea on a blue blue day”. I know this because somebody at Dad’s work had taped Elton John’s song ”Blue Eyes” on the same cassette tape as Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra” and while I was a much bigger fan of Steve’s gang than Mr. John, sometimes I wasn’t quick enough to press “stop” and listened to Sir Elton’s ballad, too.

Continue reading

Robin Hood lives

By the time I was driving down the M1 between Leeds and Nottingham, I was pretty comfortable driving on the left side of the road, and passing others on their right. That’s exactly what I was doing – driving on the farthest lane to the right – as we approached Nottingham, and I saw a brown sign by the side of the road.

It said, “Sherwood Forest”.

I looked at Wife (my co-pilot, to my left).

“What do you think? Shall we?” I asked her.

“I don’t know. You?”

Continue reading

Oxford on my mind

When Wife and I decided to take the family circus on the road again, to the UK, we knew there were two cities we absolutely had to visit: Cardiff and Oxford. (London was a given so it was never even discussed, and we began our trip with a week-long stay there).

Cardiff, because Wife spent a semester there during her university days, and Oxford because that’s where I spent a few weeks in my teens, on a memorable language course. It was the first time I had traveled abroad on my own, and I’ve carried fond memories of the trip with me ever since.

Continue reading

Upside down and looking daft

Often, when I see street artists, and every time I see artists that do things that completely surprise me, I try to think of how they get ready for another day’s work.

How the large man in Cologne gets up, checks his water bottles, fills them up with fresh, clean, pure water, and then takes the bus to the shopping street next to the cathedral and entertains people by drinking up all the water, a few liters at a time, only to then somehow get it all up and become a human water fountain.

Continue reading

Facts of wife

Travel does broaden the mind, and if broadening your mind is something for you, nothing works better than a road trip. One day, you may wake up in a container in Cornwall, then walk through a rain forest biome in the Eden Project, take a left turn and find a wonderful inn, visit King Arthur’s Tintangel, and end the day at Grittleton. Or, maybe you wake up in Grittleton, drive to see the Stonehenge in the morning, and then have lunch at Bath, and dinner at Grittleton’s Neeld Arms.

Basically, you just learn things.

Continue reading

John, Paul, and Risto

Today, the world looks a little sunnier. The colors are a little brighter and the sky a little bluer, and I feel peaceful. The reason for that is that I’m sitting on a hotel bed in Liverpool, England, wearing my new £3 John Lennon styled yellow-tinted sunglasses.

Liverpool was a household name in our household thanks to the Beatles, and Kevin Keegan, Liverpool FC’s (and England’s) small but skilled midfielder with a big hair. While I liked the Beatles a lot, it was a Kevin Keegan magazine clipping I had on the wall. “Don’t let success get to you head,” he advised me.

But obviously, I’m not doing “bed peace” because of Keegan. It’s just that the the city and the Beatles Story exhibition rekindled my love and admiration for the Beatles, the greatest band ever.

Continue reading