Streets of Helsinki 2006

I wrote my first Tuukka Rask story seven years ago when he was a young, up-and-coming goalie prospect. Now he’s backing up Tim Thomas in the Stanley Cup Final. Five years ago, another Finnish backup goaltender got his chance to play in the Stanley Cup Final, and I wrote about him, too. Sort of. So, here’s one from the archives. From my blog:

Monday, June 19, 2006
Streets of Helsinki

Yes, the NHL Final has been completely overshadowed by the World Cup. The World Cup that doesn’t have to have the name of the sport in the title. It’s just the World Cup. You’ve all read the stories about the ratings in the U.S., how the Americans apparently prefer professional eating contests and left-handed poker to hockey, so you know what I’m talking about.

An actual Helsinki street.

In Sweden — which has a team in the World Cup — the NHL Final Game 5 story was parked all the way on Page 9 in the country’s biggest morning paper, Dagens Nyheter. About 200 words.

And thanks to the time difference, two days after the game.

I don’t mind, I can watch the games on TV and I have my and so on, so I survive. Then again, I am not a Canadian traveling in Helsinki, trying to find a place that would show Game 6.

Andrew Work is. He emailed me the day before the game, asking if I could help him find a place to see the game. Unfortunately, with the game starting at 3 a.m. Finnish time, I couldn’t think of a bar that would be open to show it. So I suggested that Andrew listen to the game on NHL radio.

My good deed of the day.

Yesterday, I got another email from Andrew. Apparently, he had not stayed in his hotel room to listen to the game, but had instead been on a desperate pursuit of hockey fan happiness in the Helsinki nightlife.

“I was actually looking up Veijo Markkanen (the father of Edmonton goaltender Jussi) in the phone book but couldn’t find him. I figured if anyone knew where to find the game, it would be him,” Andrew wrote.

So, when he left the bar 45 minutes after the start of the game, he had to get the score. Preferably also the play-by-play, but at least he had to know the score. He was thinking of calling his mother, but his newfound Finnish lady friends didn’t think that was a good idea.

“So instead I called my oldest best friend in Toronto, a guy named Sean Lee — an old McGill and Hong Kong friend. He gave me the update that the score was 2-0 in the second period,” Andrew said.

Off to get something to eat.

Back at the hotel, Andrew called Sean again. Same score. Fall asleep.

“Woke up, called Sean. No answer. I called my mother in Victoria where it was midnight and she delivered the good news.

“The team that wasn’t supposed to make the playoffs — weren’t supposed to get this far with a goalie who wasn’t supposed to play — got the shutout. What a story! I’m so happy for these guys,” Andrew says.

For Game 7, Andrew is going to be in Hamburg, Germany.


I hear there’s some kind of soccer tournament going on. Good luck finding a hockey bar, Andrew.

Sean and Veijo, it’s best you sit by the phone.

PS. Of course, you can still buy Off The Post*, the collection of my blog entries.)
PPS. * denotes a link.

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