NHL.com: World of hockey

Recovering from the Worlds, getting ready for the Stanley Cup Finals.

Risto at the Worlds

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Wonderful World of Hockey

It’s been a while since my last entry but if you think I went all Calgary Flames and took the first flight out to Hawaii and have been lying on the beach or hanging out with Hollywood starlets for three weeks, you’re mistaken. I was immersed in hockey in the motherland of the game, attending the IIHF World Championships in Quebec City.

Oh yes, Canada.

I saw 29 games in three weeks, plus all those Stanley Cup Playoffs games on TV, including the quadruple overtime game between the Stars and the Sharks. I saw the final between Canada and Russia and I saw the two games between France and Italy for a spot in the Worlds next year as well.

I saw Henrik Lundqvist first save the Swedes, then witnessed him running out of gas and getting pulled in the game against Canada.

I saw Teemu Selanne’s last game in the Team Finland sweater when the Finns beat Sweden in the bronze medal game.

I saw Nicklas Backstrom captain the Swedish team, in the absence of former Maple Leaf and Islander Kenny Jonsson.

I saw Niklas Backstrom stop the captain of the Swedish team.

I saw Tomas Kaberle, Marek Zidlicky, Jaroslav Hlinka, Martin Erat, and Patrik Elias open the Russian defense like a can of tuna, sending the puck across the ice so many times it made my head spin, and I wasn’t even on the ice.

I saw a young Danish goalie called Patrick Galbraith make 39 saves in a game against the Russians, and then telling people he wanted to keep the puck as a souvenir after each save.

I saw more fans wearing the French colors in the stands of the magnificent Colisée Pepsi arena than there are hockey players in France.

I saw Ilya Kovalchuk’s shot hit the plexiglass right in front of my face – on his third try.

I saw Belarus take the Russians to a penalty shootout – while waiting for my interview with commissioner Gary Bettman after the game.

I saw Belarus lose another shootout two days later, this time to the Czechs.

I saw former Montreal Canadien Paul DiPietro lead his Swiss team in scoring, becoming my favorite quote in the process.

I saw Martin St. Louis jump in Dany Heatley’s lap after Canada scored the go-ahead goal in the final.

I saw Alexander Ovechkin crush Ilya Kovalchuk on the boards celebrating the game winning goal of the final.

I saw Mikko Koivu entering the interview zone with two blonde kids each wearing Team Finland T-shirts with “KOIVU” on the back, one with number 11 and the other with number 9, then handing them over to their dad, Saku.

I saw Montreal Canadiens’ Mikhail Grabovsky’s father and grandfather proudly watching Mikhail play and give interviews.

I saw the Stanley Cup and Punch Imlach’s old skates.

I saw Vladislav Tretiak beam on “Kiss Cam.”

And I saw Valeri Kharlamov’s son accept his late father’s award, a spot on the IIHF Centennial All-Star team, somehow cosmically connecting my two biggest hockey heroes, Kharlamov and Wayne Gretzky, the center of the team.

What a wonderful world.

How does that make you feel?