Penguins discover 'joys' of Stockholm in scavenger hunt
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STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- It's amazing what grown men will do in the name of team unity with a side of fun and an undercurrent of competition.
Like assemble something from IKEA with eight hands in the mix.
Or climb 365 steps up a tower.
Or provoke armed guards.
Or try to decipher the origins of food.
Or run for a ferry, only to watch it leave with the taunts of teammates in its wake.
Or pose with a couple of uninterested female moose.
Those were part of the to-do list for the Penguins yesterday as they called off practice and spent the afternoon on a scavenger hunt around the city.
"It was awesome, just walking around and finding our way around the city," goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said.
The team is in Sweden as part of the NHL Premiere and will open the regular season here with games Saturday and Sunday against Ottawa. Fleury was teamed with defenseman Darryl Sydor and forwards Pascal Dupuis and Fox Chapel native Bill Thomas as the players were split into groups of four with each quartet given Swedish flags, a camera and a Viking helmet. Their group was dubbed Team H&M.
The race wasn't so much about time as it was about completing missions, taking good photos along the way that included the flags and helmets, and working together to navigate from place to place.
"We got to see a lot of different things," center and captain Sidney Crosby said. "We covered a lot of ground. We were all over the place. Got a good little workout out of it. Ran some stairs. Saw some cool things. You're working together with your group, trying to figure things out and you're crossing paths with the other teams."
That included passing each other on the sometimes narrow stairway up a massive tower at city hall, the first stop after the groups assembled a storage container at their hotel. From there, they were to visit the king's castle, but organizers of the hunt hadn't counted on the guards taking exception to the players' appearance in the courtyard and perhaps an ill-advised joke or two from them. The next stop was the Katarina Lift, a tall, windowed elevator, and a ride to the Gondolen restaurant.
That meant a walk through Old Town, and Team H&M stopped in a little shop to buy Swedish underwear, briefs in the country's bright yellow and blue, for a later photo idea.
At the restaurant, which had sweeping views of Stockholm, players were served beverages and a fancy plate with several small appetizers. They had to pick which item was not Swedish. (Hint: It wasn't the meatballs or the salmon.)
Next up was a ferry ride to the zoo. Team H&M saw the boat but went the wrong way and had to backtrack around a canal to get to it. The four were on a bridge when the boat began to pull away with several other players -- whose laughter was probably heard across the city.
"You see the boat's leaving and half the guys are on it and half didn't quite make it," said Crosby, whose group and another trailed Team H&M and saw everything unfold. "They're waving and giving each other a hard time. It's definitely good for the spirit of the team."
After waiting for the next ferry, three groups of players rode to Djurgarden Island and the zoo, where they were to find the moose and take photos.
Team H&M let the others get ahead and ducked into a men's room to plan a surprise. After the others had visited the moose enclosure, Team H&M lined up in front of the two resting moose and stripped for a photo.
There they were -- Fleury, Thomas and Dupuis posing in their Swedish skivvies. But they had only bought three pair, so Sydor was left to strategically place the team's Viking helmet for the picture.
They quickly dressed, left the zoo and caught up with the other two groups of players who had been at the zoo with them. All rode on a crowded city bus back to the hotel. The creative photo wasn't enough to earn the H&M team the win in the hunt. That was OK.
"It was a great time," Sydor said. "We got to see Stockholm and run around. You've got that adrenaline. You want to do well, too. You're talking. Everybody's doing something to try to help their team. It was fun."
At a team dinner last night, Team H&M learned it was beaten out by the team of Brooks Orpik, Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke and Jeff Taffe, called Team Roxette. The prize? A copy of ABBA's greatest hits.
First Published October 1, 2008 12:00 am