Posts Tagged ‘Urheilulehti’

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.


Get 20% discount on hockey equipment (skates, sticks, protective, fashion, skills training tools) please click on the image above. When registering your account, use virtanen (all lower case) as your agent password and you will receive the discount on all your hockey shopping



For the best deals on ice hockey sticks, protective, skates and accessories, click on the image above

Finnish defence man Kimmo Timonen will be playing his 1,000th NHL career game tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Timonen’s story is one of inspiration to a young aspiring athlete. His story is about never giving up and fighting to achieve his dream.


Timonen is not the biggest of players and in NHL standards, should have never become a established defender in the league. At 178cm (5’10”), he is overshadowed in size by many frontline defenders in the NHL, however, Timonen has made it work. He has an unrelenting work ethic and has a great eye for the game, which has helped him along the way.


When he was drafted by Los Angeles Kings in 1993, he was told that he would never play in the NHL as he was not big enough, he wasn’t enough of a deterrent to play on the power play. However, Timonen, now in his 14th NHL season, has made it work in the NHL and has become one of the most respected D-men in the game. He has appeared in four NHL All-Star games, and has played under 70 games in a season only twice in his career (1998-1999 and 1999-2000, his first two seasons in the NHL).


Timonen made his break with the Nashville Predators and was a key part of the teams’ defence during its formative years. He was even named captain of the team for the 2006-2007 NHL season, however he was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers during the off season. Timonen has been a core element of the Flyers defence since then and has now taken an even bigger role with the absence of Chris Pronger.


Timonen is known for logging big minutes on the ice and has this season averaged 21minutes and 16 seconds of ice time per game, only Barydon Coburn and Claude Giroux have logged more minutes per game on the Flyers’ roster than Timonen, who is 38. Not bad going for the ‘old’ guy. At the time of writing this, Timonen is ranked 4th on the Flyers’ point scoring and is one of only five players who have a positive +/- rating on the Flyers’ roster.


I think one of the moments that will stick with me from Timonen’s career is a picture of him from the 2009-2010 Stanley Cup Finals. I saw a picture of him in a Finnish paper and the guy looked physically tired. The tiredness and the injuries he was carrying was visible on his face, but when you heard him speak and read the interview, there was a burning desire to win. The desire of reaching that goal by squeezing every last little drop of energy out of your body, no matter how much it hurt and no matter how badly something at the back of the head was screaming “no more!”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. Timonen said then, and has said after every lost Stanley Cup Play-Off series, that he has a taste of s**t in his mouth as the ultimate goal was not realised. A sign of a true winner, when nothing else except hoisting the cup will do. Timonen admitted in an interview with Finnish Urheilulehti that winning the Stanley Cup is what drives him.


So ahead of tonight’s game, congratulations on your achievement Kimmo. It has been a long hard road that you have traveled and hopefully one day, you will realize your dream and hoist the cup. 



The NHL Lockout talks took a turn for the better yesterday it would seem. Many of the sources following the meetings closely tweeted saying they received texts from players involved in the talks have said that it was the best and most productive day during this whole debacle.

The NHL has entered into crunch time during the lockout. Both sides have admitted that they are fast approaching the point of no return in saving the season and the idea of having the players talk to owners has seemed to have turned the corner. At least based on yesterdays’ meetings there has been an air of cautious optimism about the end of the NHL Lockout.

I missed parts of the happenings as I was on the ice with my team, but I half expected that by the time I got home, I would check my twitter feed and other sources to find that the meetings had concluded after an hour and that the season would most likely be cancelled. Imagine my surprise to find out that the meeting was still on-going and that they had breakout sessions of smaller groups.

With the Board of Governors (BOG) meeting taking place today, there is as good of a chance as ever for both sides to table an offer and discuss it in-depth. Jason Brough of NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk has reported that the players intend to present the owners when the two sides reconvene after the BOG meetings. There has also been rumours on the social media front that Gary Bettman has already put together a schedule for a 60-game regular season. I don’t know whether that schedule has been drawn up prior to these meetings or as a result, but it certainly seems that the closer the threat of cancelling the season comes, the harder the two sides are trying to find common ground. Despite these rumours and the potential presentation from the players, Nick Kypreos has tweeted to say that “important to note with so many optimistic, no new written proposals have been shared yet.”

However, throughout this long-drawn, farcical process the fans’ hopes have been brought up again and again, only to be crushed. However, this time there seems to be a common consensus among people that there is some real progress. The only thing that we are now nervously anticipating is the conclusion of the BOG meeting and wait for news whether or not someone will torpedo the progress from yesterday. As Samuel Savolainen, NHL correspondent for Urheilulehti said in his column, the BOG meeting is the place where someone can add fuel to the flames and if that happens, I think we can pretty much kiss the season goodbye.

Should there not be an NHL-season, it would do irreparable damage to the NHL’s brand, not only in the USA – where a year-long lockout  would most likely render hockey a redundant sport – but worldwide as well.

At the end of the day, whether a deal is reached today or in the coming weeks, the only thing even the most disgruntled fan will care about when the deal is made and when the puck is dropped. Despite the lockout and the whole CBA process has probably changed my view on the NHL forever, I’m still anxiously waiting to hear the outcome of these talks. Maybe I wont follow with the intensity as I have but, I guess time will tell.

Whatever happens, this chapter will enter the NHL history books as probably one of its darkest moments, not only because it is the third lockout, but – as mentioned above – the farcical nature of the negotiations at stages throughout this process

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

It looks like Finland is going to have NHL on the TV as well now. According to Finnish magazine, Urheilulehti, the games will be shown on Viasat and Nelone Pro channels. What gives credibility to the rumours is that there have been tweets going around from sources close to NelonenPro to say that they hope to have something soon and a Swedish press release posted on the Viasat pages about the NHL.

According to Urheilulehti, the deal would cover the next five years (also the length for which Medge Consulting has the rights for). Earlier last week, EPSN America announced that it had withdrawn from the NHL in UK, Ireland and Scandinavia/Nordics. Finland, a known hotbed for hockey, has not had any NHL games shown, apart from the Premiere games that took place in Helsinki and Stockholm.

Urheilulehti says that the deal is radical change to last year as Viasat and Nelonen Pro can broadcast as many games as they want and the channels can choose which games they are going to show due to the exclusivity of the deal. This would allow the channels to broadcast games that are most interesting to their audiences and have greater flexibility among the broadcast of games. So theoretically, if Viasat and Nelonen Pro so wish, they could show a game or two every night of the week, which seems a hell of a lot better than deal than some other countries have gotten.

The deal is quite different to the one that was unveiled in the UK with Premier Sports that are going to be showing ‘up-to 10 games per week’. As for Premier sports, they have expanded the offering of the games, but majority of the games are still showing Western Conference teams and most have a start time of 3am UK time.

Medge Consulting and Viasat are expected to make an official announcement about the rights during this week, according to Urheilulehti. There has been no confirmation on what will happen with Game center live in the countries the deal will effect, and whether Viasat and Nelonen Pro will offer their own online streams as part of the package.

I guess everyone remembers that GCL was switched off in the region for the NHL Premiere games aired on Nelonen Pro and Viasat.


The original story can be found here (in Finnish only)