STOCKHOLM -- Here in Sweden’s largest city, it’s William Nylander's world and we’re all just living in it.
Such was the case Saturday afternoon.
There was a chilly bite to the breeze in downtown Stockholm on this day, but the avid hockey fans on the street didn’t care. Indeed, hundreds were lined up for more than two city blocks for the chance to wedge themselves into a room at the XXL store where the Toronto Maple Leafs forward was signing autographs.
And he was more than happy to oblige.
Wearing an omnipresent smile on his face, Nylander had a pleasant greeting for everyone. He posed for a photo with a fan in a wheelchair. He laughed when another said he’d come from Finland to get a signature from the Swedish star, something you don’t hear very often in these parts.
It’s reflective of the feel-good visit to Sweden for Nylander and the Maple Leafs this week as part of the 2023 NHL Global Series Sweden presented by Fastenal. From honoring the late Borje Salming to having their starting lineup read by franchise icon Mats Sundin, it’s been a love affair between a franchise and a country.
As such, all eyes will be on Nylander again when the Maple Leafs play the Minnesota Wild on Sunday (8 a.m. ET; BSWIX, BSN, NHLN, SNO).