Home away from home

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Finland for the first time in 350 days and went up to the newly renovated Helsinki Olympic Stadium and its tower to see the sights.

The view is fantastic – the best in town – regardless of whether you look out south, toward downtown or east toward the swimming pool that was the venue for the 1952 Olympic water sports.

My favourite is the one to the north, toward my home away from home, the Helsinki rink. Built in 1966, the second indoor rink in the country, it’s never really even needed a name. Except “The Rink”.

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A Letter to a Very Special High School Graduate

Son,

School’s out and it’s time for me to give you some fatherly piece of advice, but as you know, I’m not much of a speaker. Besides, all the most profound things have already been said by others before me.

And those others were two American Bobs, namely Gale and Zemeckis, who wrote the screenplay for the best movie ever made: Back to the Future (Part I).

(Who said ¡Three Amigos!?)

It just so happens that the main character in the movie is a kid about your age, about to leave school, stuck in a period between the past and the future, something we call present. It also just so happens that I saw the movie for the first time when I was your age, about to graduate from high school, not knowing at all what I wanted to do.

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Rock! Rock! (Till The Puck Drops)

When the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks in the 2009 Western Conference Semifinal, Mats Sundin sat on the bench and hummed along “Chelsea Dagger,” the Hawks’ goal song.

Maybe it was the sudden shock of his realizing that not only was the Canucks’ playoff run over, so was his career.

Or maybe “Chelsea Dagger” is simply a hell of a catchy song.

“Music is such a big part of hockey games that music has been played at games even during the pandemic when there have been no fans in the stands,” says Kaj Ahlsved, a Finnish researcher who wrote his PhD thesis at Åbo Akademi’s musicology department on music in sports events. Hockey was one of the sports he studied.

“You can’t think of a hockey game without music,” he told Hockey Wanderlüst over Zoom.

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Meet Sweden’s #1 Skills Coach

Last week, in the Maple Leafs game against the Oilers, William Nylander carried the puck into the offensive zone. At the hash marks, he made a quick turn to shake Ryan Nugent-Hopkins off his back, and passed the puck to Jake Muzzin who fired a shot from the point. Nylander followed the play and tied the game with a slap shot from the slot.

It’s a move Nylander does often. He makes a quick turn to win time for himself.

“Turns and winning time” was also the topic of Joachim Ahlgren Bloom’s recent presentation at Global Skills Showcase, organized by the NHL Coaches Association’s partner Coaches’ Site. They went looking for the best skill development coaches in the game and of the original 250 nominees, twenty were invited to make a presentation.

Ahlgren Bloom, 47, was the only skills development coach from Sweden to get the invitation.

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Life on Planet Lankinen

Before the season, few people gave the Chicago Blackhawks any chance of making the playoffs. No, no, this was a team in a rebuild mode, especially when Jonathan Toewshad to step away due to illness.

And yet, the Hawks are currently fourth in the Central division, a couple of games over .500, and they’ve done it thanks to heroic performances by Patrick Kane and their Finnish rookie goaltender Kevin Lankinen.

Lankinen, 25, may be a rookie, but his hockey journey is almost the perfect example of how to build a successful career, step by step.

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Movie magic

In the latest issue of Empire*, English director-writer-producer Edgar Wright invites his famous friends to tell about their magic movie moments, things they remember about having watched movies with others in a theatre. 

Because, as we all know, that’s where the real magic happens. 

In the magazine, there’s Steven Spielberg talking about the desert crossing in Lawrence of Arabia, and Chris Evans looking back at the time he saw Neo stop the bullets in Matrix, and Paul Rudd chuckling at his memory of seeing Indiana Jones shoot the swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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Pelicans ground themselves and go carbon neutral

LAHTI, Finland –– Some fans probably rubbed their eyes when they came to a Lahti Pelicans game in January and saw that some of their favourite players had special numbers on their sweaters.

Top scorer Ryan Lasch’s usual “19” had become 2019 and goaltender Jasper Patrikainen’s “70” had a “%” after it.

Both symbolized the Pelicans and their hometown Lahti’s environmental goals. Lahti s the European Green Capital 2021 and in line with that, the Pelicans aim to become the world’s first carbon-neutral hockey team by the end of 2021.

Lasch’s 2019 is a reference to when Lahti stopped using coal, while 70 percent on Patrikainen’s sweater refers to the decrease in gashouse emissions since 1990. Other numbers were, for example, “8%” and “650 GWh.”

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Top 20 80s coronavirus songs

Here’s my Top 20 list of 80s songs for the Covid-19 era. Because, it’s all in there in the 80s songs. They’re like Nostradamus.

Mötley Crüe – Home Sweet Home (1985)

Madness – Our House (1982)

Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now (1987)

Billy Idol – Dancing With Myself (1981)

Gary Moore – Walking by Myself (1989)

38 Special – Long Distance Affair (1984)

Dire Straits – So Far Away (1985)

The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me (1980)

Stevie Wonder – I Just Called To Say I Love You (1984)

UB40 – Red Red Wine (1983)

Genesis – Invisible Touch (1986)

The Georgia Satellites – Keep Your Hands to Yourself (1986)

Heart – Alone (1987)

Dan Hartman – I Can Dream About You (1984)

Cheap Trick – Ghost Town (1988)

Phil Collins – Take Me Home (1985)

Laura Branigan – Self Control (1984)

Guns N’ Roses – Patience (1988)

Aretha Franklin – Who’s Zoomin’ Who? (1985)

USA for Africa – We Are the World (1985)

Son, 18

Son,

You know, Helsinki in November is not heaven on Earth. It’s dark most of the day and even when the sun is supposed to get up, you’d never know because you’ll never see it. It’s probably cold, too. And windy. It rains … unless it’s snowing, but these days, it’ll probably rain. Unless it rained yesterday and then it got cold overnight and the sidewalks turned into skating rinks.

Well, you’ve seen it.

And the worst part of it all is that before it gets better, things get worse. The days get even shorter and the weather even colder so that by the 22nd, with another month to go until the winter solstice, you’re just about ready to go into hibernation.

And yet, one of those late November days in Helsinki changed my life, made everything better, and brought sunshine into our life. Mine and Mom’s.

You were born. In the middle of the night, on this day, eighteen years ago.

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