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Risto Parkinen

About Risto
Risto Pakarinen is a Finnish hockey journalist and entrepreneur, based in Stockholm, Sweden. His next project is translating Ken Dryden's "The Game" into Finnish. Besides Finnish and Swedish magazines, his articles have been published, for example, in The Hockey News. He also writes his own HockeyBlog, for those who speak Finnish. For more, see www.ristopakarinen.com.

E-mail Risto your comments at: risto@ristopakarinen.com

Recent Posts
Streets of Helsinki
Performance-enhancing Cup
I'm a roadrunner, honey

Season Archive
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005

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.

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 NHL.com 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.

Posted by Risto @ 1:37 p.m.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Performance-enhancing Cup

The Carolina Hurricanes took that one important victory in Edmonton, and return home with a 3-1 lead in the Final series. Of all the 27 previous times the Final series has been in a 3-1 situation, 26 times the team holding the lead has also won the Cup.

The one team to go against the trend was the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, coached by "Happy" Day.

Counting from the beginning of the regular season, the Carolina Hurricanes have won 67 games. They lost the first game of the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning -- reigning Stanley Cup champion for another week, or a day -- and Radim Vrbata got their first goal of the season. Eric Staal scored the second.

Then, Staal scored the second, third, fifth and sixth goals of the season, and Vrbata was a scratch. He did score Carolina's 15th goal before he was traded to Chicago.

Eric Staal has played 104 games this season, and he's played, on average, 26 shifts, and 19:40 minutes. In those 2,700 shifts, he has 356 shots on goal, helping his team win 67 times. He's scored 52 goals. Five more shots, 25 more shifts, and one more goal may bring him the 68th win of the season, and with that, everything.

Twenty-five shifts between the Hurricanes and the Cup.

But it's not over until Phil and Craig from the Hall of Fame put on their white gloves and carry the Cup onto the ice. It ain't over until Gary Bettman presents it to the captain of the winning team.

So the Oilers still have a chance.

To quote Jim Carrey's character in "Dumb and Dumber," responding to a girl who just told him his chances of dating her are one in a million: "So, you're telling me there's a chance." And we just learned that the Oilers have a better chance of making a comeback and claiming the Cup than there is for any of the players getting caught in a doping test afterward.

The NHL vs. the Dopers: 1406-0, and I am still not sure who's winning.

A couple of years ago, former NHLer and Finnish enforcer Sami Helenius wrote about NHL drug use in his autobiography "The Seventh Defenseman." When the media was trying to find out more about doping in the NHL, Helenius sent out a statement explaining himself:

"Doping is a wrong word to use, because that means illegal substances. My experience was that Sudafed and ephedrine were right there next to the cough medicine. They are not illegal in North American hockey and many players use them. Not all the time, but every once in a while during the long and draining season."

Still, I am certain that just knowing that the Cup is in the house is a performance-enhancing drug for both teams in Game Five.

I can also confess that I will be using performance-enhancing stimulants to stay awake. Lots of coffee and many ham and cheese sandwiches.

It's been a long season.

Posted by Risto @ 12:17 p.m.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

I'm a roadrunner, honey

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, one of the biggest rock bands in Finland was called the Hurriganes. (Yes, with a g). It was a trio where the drummer was the lead singer, and they had huge hits in Finland with titles like, "Roadrunner," "Get On," "Tallahassee Lassie," and, well, "Woo Oo Oo Oo O" with lyrics such as:

Well, old Alabama, just a sweet Carolina
Just a-rockin' and rollin' may leave town
Got to be a scoogie, lay on my boogie
Let me hear you say you got my hole around
Got to be a scoogie, bing bong bang
Ain't got no rollin', ain't got no holdin'

Get on, get on baby, get on
Get on, get on baby, get on
Well, let me be, rock and roll with me

Doesn't make sense? Can't really get your head around it?

Well, you're not alone. I've heard -- I've sung -- the song a hundred times but I wouldn't have known what they sang if I hadn't Googled the lyrics just now. The drummer, Remu, was the heart and soul of the band, and for most of the 1970s the heart and soul of Finnish rock. But he didn't speak English, so the lyrics had to be written for him, phonetically.

But that didn't stop them from making it big. According to the press reports at the time, the Hurriganes were huge even in Sweden, which was a major accomplishment for any Finnish rock band back then.

Now, Remu was a great drummer and an excellent songwriter (he eventually released an album in Finnish, and I understood every word), and the Hurriganes had the best guitar players in the country. But their biggest asset was still that they just rocked. The 'Ganes had the Rock'n'Roll attitude, and whatever handicaps they had, they found their way around them.

Remu sang -- "Woo-oo-oo-oo-o/Can I tell you/Woo-oo-oo-oo-o/What I do/Woo-oo-oo-oo-o/Come back honey/Woo-oo-oo-oo-o/love to you" -- in his own style, people loved it, and they were successful.

And that's what winners do. They don't take no for an answer, and they refuse to lose.

Now, if the Carolina Hurricanes take the Cup in the good ol' WHA Finals rematch, they, too, will have had to find their way around pitfalls and adversities. In the Conference Quarterfinals, they found themselves two games in the hole against the Canadiens, and then won four in a row.

In the Conference Semifinals, Cam Ward beat his idol Martin Brodeur. When Ward fell in the Conference Finals, Martin Gerber came back to shut the Sabres out. And in the first game of the Cup Final, the Hurricanes turned the Oilers' 3-0 lead into a 5-4 victory.

Eric Staal has truly emerged as a bona fide star, leading the playoff scoring race, and captain Rod Brind'Amour leads the team in game-winning goals.

Never give up.

I'm a roadrunner honey
But you can't beat me
I'm a roadrunner honey
But you can't beat me
Bye, bye, my baby
Baby, baby, you will see
I'm a heart for you baby
But you're out of my class
I'm a heart for you baby
But you're out of my class
Bye, bye my baby
Baby, baby, you will see

Guitar solo.

Posted by Risto @ 4:07 p.m.


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