Posts Tagged ‘Mikko Koivu’

I’m going to answer this in the first sentence: No!

Not that I have anything against either of the players, but I believe that the best thing for the two would be is to have a long summer off. Koivu, the perennial captain of Minnesota Wild, didn’t have the easiest run in the playoffs and was shut down by the Blackhawks. It wouldn’t surprise me if there would be an announcement to say that Koivu has to undergo surgery in the post season. Urheilu-Lehti did a good piece on why Koivu should decline the opportunity to play for Finland at the World Championships, so and to be honest, I can’t say it any better. So I suggest you go to their pages and read the story (For the non-Finnish speakers through the power of Google Translate).

Mikael Granlund however, I think should be left alone for this year. Since that golden spring of 2011, he has been torn from one place to the next and last years’ world championships were not his sharpest, which I think in some respect hindered his rookie season in the NHL. For the past three years, Granlund has been under a magnifying glass and this is the first time that he can go into the summer with little or no media pressure. There are no stories of him being linked to this, that and the other Miss Finland candidate, there’s no stories about his airhook goal and the Finnish Ice Hockey Association has not had the chance to whore the World Championships with Granlund’s face plastered everywhere.

My advice to MG would be to stay in Minnesota/Houston until the world championships are done. Stay there and start training for next season. I have a feeling that the less Granlund is bothered by tabloids this summer, the better he will be, as he will have more time to prepare for the season, both physically and mentally. The last three years have been a whirlwind for the 20 year old and he surely needs his batteries fully charged.

I know there will be fans clamouring after Koivu and Granlund to come and play for Finland and be the saviours, but seriously, I don’t think that in the current mind frame of Koivu or Granlund they could act as the saviours everyone seems to perceive them as.


Edit @10:18 GMT: According to MTV3 in Finland, Finland will ask Mikko Koivu if he would like to join the team. I think it was inevitable that he was going to be asked, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he declined. MTV3 also reported that Mikael Granlund will not be asked at this stage as Finland only has one roster spot available and want to offer it to Koivu. If Koivu says no, it would open up a door to Granlund.


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The Switzerland vs Finland game was probably the first real test for the Finnish team. For the past couple of years the Swiss have shown its potential. Long gone are the days when David Aebischer had to stand on his head and make something like 60 saves per game and still allow several goals.

I missed the first period due to being stuck in traffic and so forth, but judging from the highlights, the Swiss did control the first period, despite the Finns getting on the board on the power play. Judging by the stats, the Swiss had more shots on goal and were more aggressive on the hitting front.

From the second period Finland were struggling with the Swiss teams’ aggressive fore check. The Finnish game relies on accurate passing and what the Finnish media calls a slow breakout (if any Finns know the real term for the style, please let me know as my Finnish to English hockey vocab is rusty). The breakout style allows the Finns to play the puck control game that took the team to the World Championship last year. However, with the Swiss sending sometimes up to three fore checkers to the Finnish defensive zone, it caused the Finnish defence a lot of trouble at times.

The aggressive fore check lead to some turnovers which could’ve lead to goals, if not for Kari Lehtonen in the Finnish net.

On the whole the power play I think still takes a lot of work from the Finns. Sure it converted twice during the game but I have seriously lost count on the opportunities the Finns had in the game and have had throughout the tournament. One thing that I think is missing from the Finnish top line is a strong body presence in front of the goal. Last season there was Tuomo Ruutu, who is out of this years tournament after the birth of his first child. This year, the top line doesn’t have that kind of rough and tumble player in it. The line of Filppula – Koivu – Jokinen is showing some signs of waking up, though at times Jussi Jokinen seems completely lost on the ice.

When I was watching the Finns play, there is a lot of good work and cycling taking place in the corners, but for some reason I can’t help but think that the distance from the corner to the net is too big. If the rink was a little bit smaller then it would be ideal. Right now I don’t think the Finns are generating enough traffic on the net which would lead to scoring chances on the rebounds and cause general nuisance at the opponents net. The only line I see capable of doing it, is the Finnish 3rd line of Jesse Joensuu – Niko Kapanen – Leo Komarov. Komarov showed his strong side today, by showeling home an important 2-1 goal from in traffic.

The good thing to take away from the game is that Finland scored more than one goal. I would say that this was the first real test on a hockey level that the Finns had to play. At times, yes, it seemed like the Finns were struggling in their own end and a part from a few defensive lapses, the defensive crops seems capable… so far…

The Swiss however, could’ve won the game if it stuck to its playing style. In the 3rd period it seemed like the Swiss had changed their fore check from the aggressive one to a more anticipating one, which played to the Finnish teams’ hands due to it giving them the space they needed for their breakout.

The other thing that worked against the Swiss was the refereeing. There were some unbelievable calls against the Swiss, which hindered their offensive opportunities, even if the team did get a shorthanded breakaway in the third period.

Valtteri Filppula with his two goals on the night was Finland’s best player for the night. Mikael Granlund played an energetic game, as did the entire third line, which has been Finland’s best line throughout the tournament so far. The other bright spark of the night was Jarkko Immonen with his two goals, even if his line struggled the most in the defensive zone.

For Finland the best thing to have happen from the Switzerland game would’ve been to play either Canada or USA. However, the next game against France should be an easier game for the team and an opportunity to get ready for the big games against Canada and USA.

The attendance tonight was 12,448, which is getting closer to the maximum capacity of the Arena.

The World Championships draw closer and obviously the team that I am most interested in following is the Finnish team. The team was published last night after the final Euro Hockey Tour game against Sweden, which Finland won 4-1.


The roster is as follows:


Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars

Karri Rämö, Avangard Omsk

Petri Vehanen, Ak Bars Kazan


Juuso Hietanen, Torpedo Nizhni Novgorod

Topi Jaakola, Luulaja

Joonas Järvinen, Pelicans

Lasse Kukkonen, Metallurg Magnitogorsk

Mikko Mäenpää, Amur Habarovsk

Janne Niskala, Atlant Mytishi

Anssi Salmela, Avangard Omsk

Ossi Väänänen, Jokerit


Valtteri Filppula, Detroit Red Wings

Mikael Granlund, HIFK

Jarkko Immonen, Ak Bars Kazan

Jesse Joensuu, HV 71

Jussi Jokinen, Carolina Hurricanes

Niko Kapanen, Ak Bars Kazan

Tuomas Kiiskinen, KalPa

Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild

Leo Komarov, Dinamo Moskova

Petri Kontiola, Traktor Tsheljabinsk

Janne Pesonen, HIFK

Antti Pihlström, Salavat Julajev Ufa

Mika Pyörälä, Frölunda

Jani Tuppurainen, JYP


Players that were cut from the roster include Petteri Nokelainen (Montreal Canadiens), Lennart Petrell (Edmonton Oilers), Pasi Puistola (HV71) and Ville Peltonen (HIFK). From the cut players I am surprised that Petteri Nokelainen, a member of last years championship winning team, was cut from the roster. Nokelainen could’ve easily filled the fourth line centre role. Nokelainen has carved himself a niche in faceoff and is an excellent two way player. His role in the Habs wasn’t a big one, but he did play to his role. Nokelainen was bugged by injury towards the end of the season so it could be that he has not fully recovered, leading to him not being at his peak, which is something that head coach Jukka Jalonen wants from all of his players.


Lennart Petrell is another surprise. When it was announced that he was to join the camp, I thought he was a shoe in and that the Finnish fourth line would consist of Leo Komarov – Petteri Nokelainen and Petrell. Petrell played his first season in the NHL this season just gone and provided the Oilers with some energy and also hit home a few goals. Petrell was never going to be a high scoring player in the NHL, but he possesses a great work ethic and is willing to put his body on the line for the team. Petrell was supposed to play in last years’ World Championships, but an ankle injury prevented him from taking part.


As for Ville Peltonen, I’m not surprised that he was left out. Peltonen is an icon in Finnish hockey, but in my opinion it was the right call to not include him in the roster. There is a crop of younger and equally good and hungrier players out there. I know Peltonen is hungry for success, but as the saying goes, it is time to let the kids play the game. Peltonen could’ve added leadership to the team, but to be honest, the roster as it stands has plenty of it.


I have confidence in Jalonen’s choices and ultimately it is responsibility how the team performs. However, being a couch coach, I probably would’ve not included Janne Pesonen and Antti Philstrom in the roster and would’ve brought in the afore mentioned NHL players (Nokelainen, Petrell). With Pesonen, he’s a decent player on all fronts, but something is missing. He had a good stint in the AHL with Wilkes Barre Scranton, but since then it sort of seems like his game has been a bit lost. He failed to make the Winnipeg Jets’ roster from the training camp and returned to HIFK and in light of statistics wasn’t anything spectacular.


With Philstrom, I’ve got two fold feelings of him. He is a great energy player and has probably the best set of wheels I’ve seen on any hockey player in years. Sometimes, however, I think his speed gets ahead of his thought. I was on the fence with him last year as well and I’ll continue to sit on it this year as well.



The goalie situation is something that Finnish fans shouldn’t have to worry about. There is an abundance of world class talent in the native SM-Liiga. If there isn’t a goalie there that is available, there’s always the KHL and a couple of nifty NHL goalies. Kari Lehtonen has been stellar the last two years and is starting to show the promise and skill we all knew he had. He has now had two injury free seasons and has been able to give Stars a chance night in, night out.


Vehanen is familiar from last year and was amazingly solid throughout the games last year. Last year I questioned his ability but he convinced me of his skill and ability. It will be an interesting fight between the two.


Ramo will likely be the third goalie in the games. He has been solid in the KHL and played OK behind a weak Tampa Bay defence a few years ago. He was one win away from the KHL championship. Should be able to challenge for a spot on the team should Vehanen or Lehtonen tank during the games.



Rather unsurprisingly, not a single NHL defenceman in the roster. Then again the Finnish NHL defence man is a dying breed. Sami Lepisto declined to play this year, as did Sami Salo. Last year I thought our defence was weak on paper, but on the ice it executed relatively well, though there were one or two too many scary “holy c**p!” moments on the ice.


There are experienced players on the blue line and key pieces from last years’ team, which should ease things a little bit as majority of the defence is familiar with Jalonen’s playing style.


 I’ll probably get into trouble for saying this, but in my opinion, on paper the Finnish defensive roster is the weak point of the team again. It will mean that all the goalies have to bring their A-game night in, night out.



The forwards of the team consist of the core of last years’ champions and culminate in the leader of the team Mikko Koivu. In many people’s opinion (including mine) Koivu is the best Finnish forward. He is able to play both ends of the ice and like his brother, he is a natural leader who has such a passion for the game and most importantly, winning.


The forward crops has some familiar names, ensuring that the system is easier to implement this year. Names that are back from last years team include: Mikael Granlund, Jarkko Immonen, Jesse Joensuu, Niko Kapanen, Mikko Koivu, Leo Komarov, Janne Pesonen, Antti Philstrom.


The NHL additions of Valtteri Filppula and Jussi Jokinen, should bring more offence and puck control, specially in Filppula’s case to the roster. Let’s not forget that Jalonen prefers a puck control style of play.


One of the interesting (and at the same time sad cases) is how Mikael Granlund will perform. The youngster became an overnight sensation after last year and has been used for so many promotional activities and extras off the ice that it has bound to have taken its toll on the guy. I wrote earlier that the nation has unrealistic expectations for the kid and as much as it pains me, they will be waiting for something to top the airhook goal, which will not happen. I believe Granlund will be on top form, and play in a style that is borderline erotic (seriously, the things that the kid does with the puck and how he reads the game are unbelievable.)


Surprise names to me include Tuomas Kiiskinen and Jani Tuppurainen. Both have had strong seasons in the SM-Liiga and it will be interesting to see how the guys will respond to being chosen. I can’t say that much about their individual skill sets, but I’ll be following these two rather closely.


Overall? I think Finland will do OK. We have a tough group to start the games from, with the likes of USA and Canada in the same group, but you know what, I think we are within a shot of a medal. I doubt we will be able to get the gold, but I have a feeling that this will be the year that Finland will finish high in its home games. Hopefully there isn’t anything extra in the works that would distract the players from the job at hand.

The IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships are just around the corner. In the host nation the anticipation for the games is at its peak. The reigning world champions are hosting the games with Sweden and Finland is ranked at number one at the IIHF rankings. Not bad for a nation of 5.5million and who have only won the world championship twice and is eagerly waiting for its first Olympic gold medal (no pressure guys).


However, one thing that has actually hit me quite hard after reading an open letter by the editor of the Finnish Urheilulehti. The editor, Esko Seppanen, criticises the Finnish Ice Hockey association’s chief, Kalervo Kummola over the pricing policy of the games.


I have seen stories written about the high priced tickets at the games, but the letter written by Seppanen really hits the nail on the head.  In a letter published in Urheilulehti on 26.04 and the magazine’s Facebook page ( Seppanen writes “Dear Mr. Kummola, You have deserted the Finnish hockey fans with your extortionate ticket prices. You have shown that the fans do not matter in your money making scheme.” (see translation of the letter at the end of this post)

Harsh words on the eve of the games in a nation that has seen a huge boost in hockey since last years’ World Championship finals. In fact, the hockey boom was evident in nearly every news outlets’ reporting. The local professional league Sm-Liiga was covered more widely than ever before and attendance was up, not to mention the emergence of some of the greatest young talents the Finnish hockey system has produced in years! Even the NHL was covered to the point that it didn’t matter whether a team had any Finns on its roster. This maybe a slight over exaggeration, but this years’ coverage has been a real pleasure to follow and it feels like for the first time in years that hockey is generating discussions around the water cooler again.


While I have been relying mainly on the news papers and Twitter to get a feel of the preparations to the games, it would appear that the marketing effort for the games has not focussed on the ticket sales, but rather to push TV packages to watch the games from the comfort of your home. In his letter  Seppanen calls out this fact by stating “The tournament in Helsinki starts next Friday. Mr. Kummola, have you seen a single advert that sells tickets to the games? No, you haven’t. Neither have I, or anyone else for that matter. What have we seen? Buy this super-turbo-mega package of channels. Watch the games from your couch! Better yet! Upgrade to a HD-Package”


Every time I visit Finland, I am confused of the TV packages and what provider offers what channels and what bolt-ons one would have to buy to get the channels that show hockey. Trust me, I feel sometimes feel like you need a degree in astro-physics to make sure that you get all the games. What I have learnt is that in Finland Nelonen Pro shows the NHL. For the World Championships the TV rights for the games were sold to MTV3 from Yle (think of Yle like the Finnish BBC). With MTV, I have no idea what channel in its vast plethora of pay to view channels the games are going to be shown on. It is incredibly confusing. Imagine if you are a tourist and want to catch a game in your hotel room. Chances are the hotel doesn’t have the channel on its channel list, or then there is the option of calling reception to ask what channel a game is on, go to a bar to watch it, or just simply give up.  


But what of the ticket prices themselves then? One would like to think that Finland being the reigning champion and the games being hosted in Finland (and Sweden) that the prices would be competitive and comparative to the other World Championship tournaments. Well, according to the letter by Seppanen a family of five would have to pay €1000 ($1,320) to go see Finland vs France. A THOUSAND Euros for Finland vs France. Comparatively, tickets to Canada vs USA would cost €196 ($258) and the semi-final would cost from €175 ($231) to €226 ($298), though I have seen a tweet of someone getting a ticket for the afore mentioned CAN-USA game for €40.


I need to take a breather here as I’m about to faint from just looking at that. How can a family of five afford a €1000 in this economy to go watch hockey, not to mention all the other expenditure (parking, refreshments, merchandise etc etc) associated with a trip to a hockey game. To some the €1000 is half of their monthly salary, if not all of their monthly salary. As Seppanen points out in his letter, it would be cheaper for that family of five to go watch the Champions’ League Final in Munich than to go watch Finland play France.

In fact just to put it into perspective, I saw someone tweet earlier in the week that in 1998 when Finland last hosted the World Championship, they were able to buy a ticket to the final in the black market for €90. That’s cheap for a ticket to the finals… on the black market. I dread to think what a single ticket on the black market would cost to go see the 2012 finals. And yet, Kummola has the audacity to wonder why the tickets aren’t selling as expected, or proclaim that the prices are on par with NHL regular season game prices. Well, him and his peers have set the prices and it’s too late to back out now.

If I was to go and watch the games in my native Finland, I would have to shell about €250-300 on flights alone and then pay almost the same to go watch Finland play France? Give me a break. I love my hockey, I really do, but there has to be a line somewhere. For those kinds of prices, I’m expecting that I would be treated like a royal.

I would rather use that money and go on holiday somewhere. At least the holiday would last longer than  60 minutes.

I really do feel bad for hockey fans in Finland and those foreign fans who have paid a top dollar to fly over to support their nation in the games. It is a huge expenditure just to watch a few games, not to mention the fact that Helsinki isn’t exactly the cheapest capital city in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I like Helsinki, but it is expensive.

I really can’t help but feel that these games are for the elite and that there is a them and us mentality between the organisers and the fans. It is almost like a throwback to the good old days of societal class structure. I’m sure there are fans who will pay tooth and nail to go see the games, but my mind boggles at how someone can seriously think that the pricing structure for the games is fair? To be honest, if I was in Finland, I would rather go to a bar to watch the games than shell out money for an additional TV package or one of the ludicrously priced tickets


I fear that the cheapest way to watch the games for any fan would be to buy their nations’ game package from the IIHF website, hook their laptop to their TV and put the radio on for commentary. That’s what I’ll have to resort to as there is no way that I can justify spending what would be probably two month’s wages to go watch some hockey, or less if I just wanted to soak up the atmosphere.

I don’t know whether we’ll see a colourful cavalcade of fans at the games, like we are used to with the World Championships, due to these prices or whether we will have arenas full of men in suits. I for one want to see people decked out in quirky outfits and that dude dressed in the cat costume drinking a (blow up) bottle of Fisherman’s Friend flavoured vodka.

Seppanen sums up three key facts that the organisers have done well and I have to agree with him. “Mr. Kummola, you have succeeded in three things: 1. You started to cash in on the national pride, which died at the collective level really quickly. 2. You abandoned your core fans. Those fans who lived vicariously with the Finnish team throughout the whole 2011 World Championships have been ruthlessly cut off. 3. You have turned our home games into a neutral event, where the home team has no advantage on its side as the stands have been turned into venues for the games’ corporate partners.”


Seppanen fires off a great finish to his letter by stating “I know that you don’t care Mr. Kummola. But the Finnish hockey fan does care!”

I hope that the games will be entertaining and that people will fill the arenas as otherwise the games might go down in history, and not in a good way. My fear is that this will leave a massive brown, smelly stain on the Finnish hockey credibility if the games are not sold out. Could you imagine either the semi-final or final that would be played to a nearly empty arena?


Thanks to Esko Seppanen at Urheilulehti ( and for permitting me to quote and paraphrase his article. You can follow Seppanen on Twitter at:!/EskoSeppanen (tweets mainly in Finnish). Also thanks to Teemu Lindfors (!/TeemuLindfors) and Jan Johansson (!/JanPPa) for ticket price information.

The letter translated:


Dear Kalervo Kummola,


You have shockingly abandoned the Finnish hockey fans with the ticket prices at the World Championships. You have coldly shown that the fans mean nothing in this money making scheme.

You have also shown, that ticket sales are just a part of the whole concept. Mr. Kummola, if we are honest, ticket sales have nothing to do with the games. It is only a plus in your cash flow at the end of the games. Look around you and you’ll understand.

The tournament in Helsinki starts next Friday (4th May). Have you, Mr. Kummola, seen a SINGLE advertisement that would sell TICKETS to the tournament itself? No, no you haven’t. Neither have I – or anyone else for that matter. What have we seen?

Buy this super-turbo-mega package of channels. Watch the games from your couch! Better yet! Upgrade to a HD-Package! (It is perverse that these adverts are displayed at Hartwall Arena, and there is not a word that would push sales of tickets!)

This is what we have seen, however, perhaps more now than at any other point in time in the Finnish sporting history. Regardless of what Finnish website you visit, you will see advertisements for the TV packages. You will not see a single advertisement that would encourage you to buy tickets to see a game.


How can this be Mr. Kummola?


When you shrewdly out-priced the “people” out of your games, you are in the position where you can sell your TV packages for prices that don’t look half bad to the average consumer. If a family of five went to your friends’ Arena to watch Finland – France match, the head of the family would have to pay over a thousand euros for lower level seats! And you have the audacity to wonder why the tickets aren’t selling like hot cakes.


Did I forget to mention that the TV Package providers are the biggest sponsors of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association?


Your goal was never to allow the average income fans to the games at all. That is why you have bolted the doors shut to the average Joe at the Arena. You know full well that the family of five’s wallet will choose the TV package rather than pays a THOUSAND euros for ONE Finland – France match. Unbelievable.



Mr. Kummola, you have succeeded in three things: 1. You started to cash in on the national pride, which died at the collective level really quickly. 2. You abandoned your core fans. Those fans who lived vicariously with the Finnish team throughout the whole 2011 World Championships have been ruthlessly cut off. 3. You have turned our home games into a neutral event, where the home team has no advantage on its side as the stands have been turned into venues for the games’ corporate partners


This letter will carry on in the Urheilulehti World Championships special, which goes on sale on the 26th of April.


I know Mr. Kummola, that you do not care. But the Finnish hockey fan does care!

For the love of sports


Esko Seppanen, Urheilulehti

16 years is a long time to wait. In that 16 years a small nation has come close several times. There has been the World Cup Of Hockey, Olympic games, several world championships, all accompanied by bitter disappointment. But on one fine Sunday in May, that all changed.

If you haven’t guessed what I’m talking about, I’m talking about the Finnish victory in the World Championships over Sweden. I have to admit that when I first saw the roster for the games, I was not willing to bet any money on Finland. The past few years had been weak performance wise and it had been somewhat painful to watch the Finns play. I had, however, always agreed with the game plan that the coach Jukka Jalonen had drawn up, but I did think that if he didn’t get into the medal games, his days would be numbered.

I remember watching in frustration when the Finns took on Latvia, then Czechs and even later on Germans. After the Germany game, I was ready to write an article titled, “Finnish ice hockey on life support” and had planned to follow that up with an article, should the Finns have been knocked out early, titled “Finnish ice hockey: An obituary.” I’m happy that I haven’t had to write those articles… yet.

But after the Germany game, something changed. The players wearing the Lion emblem on their shirts became a team. There was something that was good to watch and there was some real guts in the play that I felt had been missing since the start. As we played the Russians in the semi finals, I was first captivated by the performance put on by a ‘no-frills’ Finnish team (not to take anything away from the Finns, but Ovechkin, Kovalchuck and co are bigger names). It was particularly amusing watching that game how the Finns completely shut down the big Russian forwards. And then of course, there was THE goal.

I’m not going to mull over Mikael Granlund’s Lacrosse move, but I will say this: The news coverage I’ve seen has been kids talking about and practising the move. It’s all well and good kids. Be creative with the game, but do not forget to pay more attention to your shot selection and play. Chances are you will not ever get a chance to score a goal like Granlund did in a proper game.

The final was a thing of beauty and to watch it in a Bar in London (Thanks to the owner of the Pipeline Bar for putting on the game and acting as a brilliant host). I lost my voice cheering the Finns on and along with many fellow countrymen, we all felt relieved as Mikko Koivu hoisted the trophy. The long wait was over. I was 13 when Finland last won the title, so it has been a long time coming.

The celebrations have caused somewhat of a stir, due to various members appearing drunk in live interviews, falling off the plane and not showing up for the public celebration. I have no problem with celebrating the win with alcohol, hell I’ve been there, done it and got the T-shirt for winning competitions on a much lower scale than the World Championship.

The truth is, it mattered to the players and rightly so, they have deserved their party. But I do have a problem with the rush of organising the celebrations. Less than 24 hours after winning the title, the players were rushed in front of the adoring public still in the best party mode from the night before. We all have seen coach Pasi Nurminen being helped off the plane and then falling on the red carpet. Sure people think “he’s just celebrating it”, but when you take a step back, it does look embarrassing.

The teams’ management had no control over the team in the events leading to the public celebration. If I was in charge, I would’ve made sure that I had a handful of people that were allowed to speak to the media and I would have left Nurminen on the plane until everyone else had gotten off and whisked him to sleep it off while no-one was watching. I would have stuck someone to tail Anssi Salmela to make sure he didn’t say anything moronic and I would’ve sent Timo Jutila to sleep it off as well. If there were questions (like there has been) about the whereabouts of the personnel, I would’ve been honest and said that “they are resting for the benefit of the team.”

However, there were members of the team that conducted themselves well, despite the amount of alcohol they had consumed. Mikko Koivu was exemplary, yes he had been drinking, but he was not slurring his words (much) and spoke like a true captain. Also coach Jukka Jalonen handled himself respectfully. Other players such as Niko Kapanen, Janne Pesonen and Mikael Granlund acted like real professionals. Should the party have been delayed by 24 hours and let the team return in peace, we might have seen a different team on stage.

But that’s enough about that. Main thing is that we have captured a world championship title once more and it is great to see what the sport of hockey and the success on an international stage means to our nation. I guess you could say that about any other sport and it’s importance to us Finns. However, I’m going to say this and I don’t mean to take anything away from the team who won the title. This does not reflect on the true state of Finnish hockey.

We are on the right path with developing young players, but we are still a couple of years off the pace of the Canadians and so on. We have a pool of talented players and proven veterans, but we are not in a position where we can take our eye off the ball, like we have done, and say everything is OK, we are champions.

What I also hope that this championship will do to hockey in Finland is that it will encourage kids to take up hockey and for parents to actively support their kids hobby. It can lead to great things and hockey can teach kids many values and make them better people. Any sports will, not just hockey.

People will also need to be realistic moving forwards. It is unlikely that we will win the title two years running, but I do hope that we won’t have to wait for another 16 years for the trophy to be in Finnish possession. For now, let’s be happy that we have won and we can call ourselves world champions once again.