Capitals’ Swedish Heritage Night Includes Furniture Assembly

It's because of IKEA, in case that wasn't obvious

Mar 07, 2017 at 11:10 AM ET

When a professional sports franchise hosts a cultural heritage night, the standards are often pretty low, skewing to the baseline of national identity readily recognizable by average Americans.

When hockey’s Washington Capitals held their Swedish Heritage Night on Monday, for instance, the jumbotron Dance Cam featured Dancing Queen by the Swedish group, ABBA; intermission musical interludes included Swedish House Mafia; Swedish meatball recipes were discussed; Viking hats were given away; and, of course, a furniture assembly competition was held.

No, really: a marquee event replicated the worst part of moving into a college dorm—building IKEA furniture. While this had the feel of a cheap marketing ploy and a borderline case of cultural appropriation gone wrong, few people, if any, seemed to mind. Quite the opposite, in fact: A scan of social media suggested general praise for the event. (IKEA reportedly cracked more than $2 billion in furniture exports to the U.S. as of at least 2010.)

In fact, the event included an appearance (and thus tacit approval) from the Swedish ambassador to the U.S., Björn Lyrvall, who gave an interview to the in-house pregame show and tweeted his support of the event.

The team’s mascot dressed in a Swedish national team hockey sweater and rode around the ice touting the Swedish flag.

Fittingly, the team’s most high-profile Swedish player, Nicklas Backstrom, scored a goal and added an assist in the game. All three of the Capitals who hail from Sweden held a Q&A with fans after the game.

In all, Washington is hosting four heritage nights this season, with the other events having taken place for Germany (pretzels and beer) and Canada (with a poor imitation of poutine).

The final night is for Russia, which is the native home of Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin. One can only imagine the potential for awkwardness at the particular event — to be held March 23 — given the current political climate and proximity to the White House.