Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category


One of Finland’s biggest hockey stars, Saku Koivu has called it a career today. Koivu, during his NHL career was a huge inspiration for me as a player and that I wanted to model myself after. I wanted to be a reliable two-way player, just like Koivu. The reason why Saku Koivu became such an inspiration to me was because we were both the same size and stature. Koivu proved that he could play like a big player, night in, night out, sometimes at a high cost, which lead to his injury history.

 

Koivu’s stature made him an extremely hard worker off the ice, which is how I wanted to model myself as a player. His dedication for the sport, despite battling difficult injuries or cancer, was immense and it was largely thanks to Koivu’s return from cancer that inspired me to take up the sport again, after I had fallen out of love with it. I remember thinking to myself: “If he comes back from cancer, what’s stopping me from coming back from a knee injury.”

 

As the Captain of the Canadiens, Koivu taught me a lot about leadership. Watching him in press scrums during the Canadiens’ woeful years, he conducted himself with class, despite carrying the hopes of an entire province on his back. Koivu always lead with example on the ice, whether it was for the Habs or for the Finnish national team, which I always aspired to do for my own team. It was leaving your heart out on to the ice after every game you played.

 

Where Koivu may not have reached the heights of the NHL’s scoring charts, he was a widely respected player across the entire league. One of those players that no-one had nothing but good things to say. Koivu was never a big fan of being in the spotlight, despite shouldering the C for the Canadiens for the better part of a decade.

 

There was a story about the Koivu brothers in the Finnish media which said that they absolutely hate losing and the reporter – whose name escapes me – said that Saku and Mikko are the types of players that hate losing so much, that the loss will eat at them for months and will fuel their desire to succeed. It is exactly what a great leader should be all about. Hating losing so much, you push yourself and your team to the limit so that you can win again. And again. And again.

 

Whilst Saku may not read this, I wanted to – in some way – acknowledge and thank him for the inspiration he provided me with for my own career, how you need to prepare as an athlete of a smaller stature and how to be a leader.

 

Kiitos, Saku


SuccessisbuiltFans always expect that their teams perform well – and ideally win every game – and fans have the absolute right to want success. There are expectations that teams and players need to meet, week in and week out. There are the expectations for the entire team from the fans and on an individual level, the expectations from the coaching staff.

 

Success is something that every player wants. For their team and for themselves. Otherwise, why play the game if you don’t want to succeed and not feel the elation of winning a game. Success is something that doesn’t magically happen on a game night. It is a long, drawn-out process throughout countless hours of work, sweat and pain. Success is built when there are no eyes on you. It happens at the gym, it happens on the roads, it happens on the bike. It even happens on the trainers table or with the physiotherapist. Success is built when you are on the ice with your team. It is built in bag skates, flow drills, set plays. It is built by countless and countless of repetitions of weights, drills, shots, jumps and miles pedalled on a bike.

 

Success is not something that is achieved overnight. Players can’t expect to be successful just by turning up to training and have the expectation that their effort on the ice will guarantee them success in the long run. The hockey season is a gruelling ride, with all its bumps and bruises and frustrations. What the fans see, is the culmination of all the work that has been taking place out of sight.

 

Success requires commitment. It requires hard work. It requires sacrifice. It requires discipline. It requires a goal, something that unifies a group of individuals to come together and work for that goal. It means leaving personal differences aside and playing for the logo on the front of your jersey and for the goal of becoming a champion.

 

The commitment fuels motivation and success, that success will player through a rock when it comes to crunch time. But all this underpinned by the work that each player does on and off the ice when the stands are empty and when no one is watching you.

 

The signs of success, are not seen on the ice in a 60 minute game. It is seen in the sweat dripping on to the gym floor and on to the ice.  

Review: CCM Resistance Helmet

Posted: September 1, 2014 in hockey, ice hockey, Sports

CCMRES1The CCM Resistance is the first major helmet re-design since CCM introduced its Vector line of helmets a few years ago. While the shell of the helmet still bears a resemblance to the old V-line of helmets, it is a completely new helmet and a first for CCM in many ways.

 

The helmet has a one-piece shell design and a single point of adjustment at the back of the helmet. In a lot of ways this helmet is directly comparable to Bauer’s IMS range (the old Messier project helmet) and Bauer’s RE-AKT (though RE-AKT uses a two piece shell).  The news of CCM’s helmet redesign came in 2012 Forbes article, where the company said that it would be taking direct aim at its competitors and with its unique selling point being the reduction of concussions caused by rotational impact forces. Rotational impacts occur during hockey game, not only from direct impacts to the head. These forces create a spinning effect that can be devastating to a player. Bauer first introduced reduction system in its RE-AKT helmet and some of the features from the RE-AKT can be found in the top of the range IMS helmet.

 

Where CCM claims it has made significant strides in research towards reducing these impact forces, it is still worth bearing in mind that – like with any helmet – they do not protect you 100% from a concussion. Like the IMS range from Bauer, the emphasis is on the reduction of the risk of a concussion.

 

The inside:

What’sCCMRES2 new about the helmet is its Rotational Energy Dampening (R.E.D) system. This is a series of red gel pods that are placed between the shell and the liner of the helmet. The R.E.D system is complemented by an impact pod that sits on top of it, similar to the Seven Technology developed by Cascade sport for the Messier Project helmet (now Bauer’s IMS range). The way that the two technologies differ is that the IMS helmet’s Seven Technology pods have been designed to return to their original form after multiple impacts, which reduces some of the rotational forces and follow on impacts, such as hitting your head on a plexi and then on the ice. In the Resistance helmet from CCM, the R.E.D system with the impact pods have been designed to slow down the rotational forces, as well as spread the impact energy throughout the helmet, as opposed to the head absorbing the full force of an impact (both rotational and linear impacts).

 

The impact pods and R.E.D system is covered by CCM’s traditional EPP foam that it has used across the Vector line of helmets and other protective pieces of equipment.  The EPP foam is used to bring an added level of comfort and to help shape the helmet to suit on player’s head shape to further improve fit.

 

Fit:CCMRES3

As with the M11 helmet that we reviewed few years ago, one of the big benefits of the helmet was its fit. The same goes for the CCM Resistance helmet. Thanks to its single point tool free adjustment, you can get the helmet to fit comfortably on your head and ensure that the helmet doesn’t move away from its place.

 

CCM has achieved this, similar to the RE-AKT and IMS helmets, by placing the adjustment tool by the occipital bone. Similar to the M11, this reduces the pressure that you sometimes get with helmets where the adjustment is done on the sides as the adjustment is done by tightening the helmet around the forehead. Another positive from the single tool adjustment at the back of the helmet is that it reduces some of the weak points seen in helmets where adjustments are made on the side.

 

You can quite comfortably shake your head with the CCM Resistance helmet on and it will not move out of place. This is so key in the modern game as many concussions and head injuries happen when the head makes contact with the ice and/or boards whilst it is out of place. By keeping the helmet securely on the head, it will do a better job at absorbing the impact forces.

 

However, it is important to note that it will take a few times to wear it to achieve the perfect fit and the first couple of times that we wore the helmet, it felt awkward on the head, but it finds its fit quickly. (To be fair, the tester has a funnily shaped head to begin with so every helmet takes a bit longer to break in).

 

Once the helmet has been broken in, it is almost un-noticeable on the head. There is no compression or discomfort and the degree of airflow the helmet provides is superior to some of the other helmets on the market.

 

However, the biggest thing for us – like with the M11 – is the fit. Once you have adjusted the helmet to sit on your head, it will not move from its place with ease. You would have to be rocked pretty hard, or

 

Fitting visor/cage:

The slight downside we noticed with the helmet was when it came down to fitting a visor on the helmet. It was a fairly fiddly process, thanks to the EPP foam padding that sits just in front of the mounts for the visor. Also, we prefer to wear our helmets without the ear guards and these were particularly tricky to remove as they are glued into the foam. We understand that they are there to protect the ears from any direct impacts, but like a lot of pro-players, we prefer to wear the helmet without the guards.

We fitted the Hejduk H700 Pro-line visor to it. We had to do a fair bit of tweaking around the visor as part of it wouldn’t sit on the helmet properly thanks to the curved design of the helmet. The visor fit eventually, but it wasn’t the most straight forward of tasks we’ve undertaken on a helmet. We also tested it with the Hejduk MHX visor and Oakley’s Pro Cut visor, both of which were easy to adjust.

It is therefore worth speaking to your retailer about the best fitting visor as some visor designs might make it a bit tricky to fit.

 

We are not sure whether removing the ear guards will void the warranty of the helmet, so it is something that you might want to check with your retailer when purchasing the helmet. Removing the ear guards hasn’t changed the fit of the helmet or damaged the liner or pods so the helmet is still safe and secure to wear.

 

The CCM Resistance helmet (and other helmets in the range) can be purchased with a cage combo, so if it’s your thing to wear a cage, you might want to go for the combo helmet to avoid some of the fiddling around.

 

Overall

CCM has invested a lot of time into the design of the helmet, and in the process it has designed a helmet that is comfortable and is housed with great technologies. Admittedly – and this goes for every helmet on the market – it won’t prevent concussion from happening, but like its competitors (RE-AKT and IMS series) it has been designed to reduce the risk of sustaining one. One of the big things for us has been the fit of the helmet as it won’t move from its place once adjusted appropriately. The Resistance helmet is a major improvement on the V-10 helmet and definitely one of the industry leading helmets, both in design and protection.

We would thoroughly recommend the CCM Resistance helmet to any player who wants to ensure that they have the best possible protection for their head. However, our recommendation would be to tryout as many helmets as possible to find the most suitable one for your head and for your playing purposes.

 

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Significant improvement from the V-10
  • Excellent fit. Does not move out of place
  • Easy to adjust
  • Good ventilation throughout

Cons:

  • Fiddly to remove ear protectors (Check with your retailer if this voids warranty)
  • Check with retailer which visor makes are most suitable

 


Past couple of times I’ve been at the gym there’s been a few things that have seriously fucked me off. Firstly, before going any further, let me make sure to iterate that the following doesn’t apply to all gym goers, but to a small minority who can just make the whole experience really, really shit.

1). Laughing at people: I’ve seen this happen to a few guys, mainly those who are overweight. Don’t laugh at someone who is working out. Do you seriously think that the overweight person is likely to come back and continue with their fitness regimen if there’s some snot nosed punk laughing behind their back? No! Similar to those kids who have just started hitting the gym. Do you think they’ll come back if there’s some meat head there laughing at them if they can’t curl more than 5kg?

At least they have taken the effort to go to the gym and improve their overall well being and physique. Just because you’ve developed delts and biceps as big as your head doesn’t give you the right to laugh at someone who is trying to better themselves. Remember how hard you had to work to get your body? Other people are working just as hard to get theirs, so when you come to the gym, leave your clown attitude at home.

2). Leering at girls: similar to the above. Do you think all girls at the gym go there so you can check out their asses? If you want to look at girls asses in yoga pants google it or go on Instagram, place is full of shit like that. Let the girls workout the same as the guys. They don’t care if you’ve got the biggest guns in the gym so don’t try and flex your muscles or show off like a peacock.

3). Attitude: walking around the gym looking like you’ve shit your pants or like you’ve eaten a wasp doesn’t make people think you’re hard or that you’re an UFC all-star. There’s no need to carry that attitude or look at people through the mirror with that kinda look. Just let people work out and worry about your workout. No one there is looking to take you on.

Additionally to that point, if you see someone doing a move you’ve never seen before, don’t just stand there and look at the person like they’re from mars or something. If you’re really that interested in it, ask them about it, I’m sure they won’t mind telling you about it.

4). Taking slefies: OK I admit, I’ve done this a few times and I hate myself for doing it, but taking slefies at the gym is not cool. What’s less cool is if you whip off your shirt to pose in front of the mirror and take pictures. Or even worse, strip off and have your friend take pics for you. Wait till you’re home and then take the pics.

Similarly, don’t use the mirrors to check your hair. You’re not Justin Bieber or a spunk trumpet from one direction who has to have the perfect haircut or otherwise their day is ruined. Just fucking workout and get a sweat going. You’re not in a fashion show.

5). Keep your clothes on: yeah, yeah I can see that you’re benching 150kg, but do keep a shirt on you shit-head.

Speaking of clothes; it’s a gym. Wear comfortable workout clothes, whether its compression or lose stuff. What ever is your thing, but just as above, it’s not a fucking fashion show. You working out in the latest designer gear doesn’t make least bit difference to your performance, if anything you’ve been an idiot for buying some expensive brand shit that will get sweaty and smelly. Quick!

That’s my rant over. As I said, this doesn’t apply to everyone, but there are some right old gym idiots who can ruin the experience for someone else. I genuinely love working out and going to the gym, but sometimes people’s behaviour in these places just puzzles me. It’s almost like going back to school where if you don’t have x,y or z, you Don’t really belong.

So in essence, when you’re at the gym, whether its by yourself or with friends, just work out and let other people do the same without any laughing behind backs, attitude or other shit.

Midnight epiphanies

Posted: June 9, 2013 in fitness, hockey, ice hockey, Sports

As I woke up at 01:00 it wasn’t because of a noise outside or that I was not sleeping well. I woke up as I had an epiphany. I usually get these epiphanies every summer at different stages, but these epiphanies are what I use as my triggers and as the subconscious affirmations towards the game.

Where I have been working on off ice conditioning for over a month now, it has been out of habit and because I generally enjoy exercise and I like to stay in shape and to make sure that I’m ready for next season. But the epiphany is really the spark for everything. It is what re-lights that fire that was first discovered when a hockey player laced up the skates for the first time. That primitive calling of ‘this is MY thing’.

Well, as if I needs any more affirmations for it, but I love this game. I couldn’t imagine a life without the game and everything that comes with it. I even love the lengthy preparation for the season. This epiphany, like I said, happens every summer and usually acts as a trigger to say that my mind and body have rested enough from last season.

The only thing now is that I have an insatiable urge to be back on the ice and I’m itching for the opening face off already. I want to be on that roller coaster ride that takes you to incredible highs and through the lowest of lows. Hockey can be a cruel mistress.

I don’t think I’ll be catching much sleep tonight as I’m going to be pumped from this.

Sweat saves blood

Posted: May 21, 2013 in fitness, hockey, ice hockey, Sports

That was the adage that our drill sergeants and lieutenants were drilling into us in the army during basics. It was probably about 28c and we were in the forest in full gear digging fox holes. “Sweat saves blood! You dig that hole now and during an international hard ammo training you won’t bleed” was one line I that has stuck with me.

At the time when this took place I wanted to take my spade and throw it into the forest along with my rifle and tell the ‘man’ to “stick it”. However all that would’ve gotten me was a trip to retrieve said items and probably would’ve made my basics time hell.

But why am I droning on about the army and what I learnt? Well the motto of ‘sweat saves blood’ is good for the life of a hockey player as well. The off season is a time she. You are meant to sweat and put in countless hours of work on the road and in the gym. Your exercises get weird looks, as there aren’t too many people slamming a medicine ball around are there?

If you look into the laundry basket, it would be full of workout shirts and shorts that literally reek of sweat after you have given every last grain of energy in your body.

Sweat saves blood. The work we put in to training during the summer makes all the difference come opening face off. It can give you that split second edge on the ice, which can mean a goal or avoiding a check that might make you bleed. What is better? Have the bleeding and associated pain with it, or go through a smaller amounts of pain and sweat to avoid that injury?

Off season training is not easy. It shouldn’t be a walk in the park. It’s there for you to push yourself and find extra levels within yourself that will ultimately make you a better player, a better, healthier person.

*excuse any typos. Post written on a not so smart device


18 years ago, 7th of May 1995, a Sunday afternoon and Finland was playing in the World Championships. That Friday before, my teacher at school had asked us to show our hands if we thought Finland was going to win gold. I didn’t raise my hand. I didn’t think that the team was going to do it, given the disappointment of the year before.

On that Sunday afternoon I wasn’t paying the game my full attention. Yes, Finland was in the final, but I thought that Sweden would be the winners of the game. They always beat us in hockey, especially in big games like this.

I remember that I had my friend Hannu over at our place and that we were in my room playing computer games or whatever and went to check on the score a couple of times. It was 0-0. Until we heard my mom and dad roar. Finland had scored. Ville Peltonen had put the puck in the net for the first time. That was it, maybe Finland did have a chance.

We watched the remainder of the game and saw Peltonen score two more goals and Timo Jutila add another. It was set, Finland was going to win the World Championship in ice hockey. A sport that is engrained in so many Finn’s psyche. It was a big deal. It still is a big deal.

The country went into a frenzy, just like it would do 16 years after that Sunday in May 1995. There were parades held up and down the country so that people could greet the heroes. I went to one event in Hameenlinna and saw Timo Jutila and Marko Palo with the trophy. I remember that Marko Palo signed my hockey card I had of him (which I have since lost) and that he was wearing these big Ray-Ban sunglasses to hide his blood shot eyes.

One of the relics that I still have at my parent’s house is a signed team photo of that 1995 team. It’s in a glass frame and I don’t dare fly it over to my place in case it would get damaged in transit.

Since then the saying -95 never forget has become somewhat of a joke amongst Finnish hockey fans. Today will be 18 years since the nation’s expectations were changed and we started to patiently wait for gold year after year, only to come away disappointed, until 2011.

We may only have two World titles to our name, no Olympic gold, no World Cup of Hockey honours, but those two World Championships mean so much to the Finns that it’s almost impossible to describe in words, even if the value of the World Championship event has diluted a little bit, it being an annual tournament and all.