The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

These guys flew from Sweden to see two Caps games. They were both snowed out.

At the Winter Classic. (Courtesy Simon Thurgren)

Simon Thurgren knows a little bit about snow. As a resident of Borlänge, in central Sweden, snowstorms are a mundane part of Thurgren’s winter life. So when he first heard about the pending East Coast blizzard, Thurgren wasn’t particularly worried about his weekend stateside plans, which included a Caps home game against the Ducks on Friday night, and another against the Penguins on Sunday afternoon.

“I was thinking it’s nothing to worry about, they won’t cancel the game because of that,” the 26-year old IT contractor said Saturday. “Then when we turned on the TV Friday morning, they said on the news it was chaos.”

From there, things got worse. Friday’s game was moved up, and then canceled. And so Thurgren — who believes himself the No. 1 Caps fan in Borlänge, who regularly stays up until 3 or 4 in the morning to watch Caps games live, and who flew to the U.S. this month in order to see his favorite team play twice in one weekend — instead spent his Friday night “just hanging out” at a friend’s house. Then came news that Sunday’s game was also off.

“Very, very disappointed; very disappointed, of course,” Thurgren told me sadly. “I mean, the main reason for going here right now was to go to the games.”

Why is a Swedish kid so taken with the Caps? It started not with Nicklas Backstrom or Marcus Johansson, whom Thurgren actually played against in junior hockey. It started with Alex Ovechkin. Like so many teenagers in the last decade, Thurgren was so taken with Ovechkin’s game that the Caps became his team, that “it just became normal to follow the Caps.” Adding a pair of top-nine Swedish forwards didn’t hurt.

That’s why Thurgren stays up for most of the team’s 7 p.m. games, which start at 1 a.m. in Borlänge. It’s why, even when he does go to sleep, “I can wake up three or four times during the night because I’m worried and wondering how they’re doing.” It’s why he watched all 14 games during last year’s playoffs — “I was very, very tired that month,” he said — and why he’s seen them play about seven times in person.

He came to D.C. for last year’s Winter Classic, and thought about a trip to Washington for some games in November. But his friend Adam Barragan — whom he met when the local Tri-City Eagles hockey club ran an exchange program with  Borlänge Hockey — asked him to time his trip with his winter break from Virginia Tech’s Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. Thus, Thurgren and his pal Andreas Forsman flew to New York on Wednesday, and bused to Baltimore on Friday, and then watched the increasingly dire weather reports from Anne Arundel County.

“We were actually thinking this is a normal Swedish day,” Thurgren told me. “Where we are right now, it’s just snowing a little bit. They would never cancel a game because of this weather. I don’t know how it is in downtown D.C. Perhaps it’s worse there. But as it is here, no, it would never happen.”

It’s hardly ever happened here. According to the team, this is the first time consecutive Caps games have been canceled since 1993, when Thurgren was all of 3 years old.

What happens next? Thurgren called their travel insurance company, but got nowhere on the matter of his Caps tickets. He doesn’t even know if he’ll be able to go home on Monday, as planned.

Still, this experience won’t discourage him from following the Capitals. He watches all the team’s post-game interviews on the Caps app, says following the team is “my biggest hobby,” and cares more about the Caps than about his favorite Swedish team. And how will he console himself after being shutout out this visit?

“Now I’m looking for to the next trip,” he said.”I will probably go during the playoffs if I really want to see them this year. Hopefully I will come in [June].”

(This is a family Web site, but the message below offers a few choice words to our current blizzard.)