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Ducks on Euro Trip

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

When Green Day recorded the song "Wake Me Up When September Ends" I'm pretty sure they were talking about NHL hockey.

Over the weekend, the calendar flipped to October -- the month hockey fans wait for all summer -- meaning we can turn our attention from the preseason to the highly anticipated regular season. (Remember that preseason loss Friday night to the Kings? Yeah, neither do I.)

For the Ducks, that regular season begins in Helsinki, Finland, (5,600 miles away and 10 hours ahead of California) where they actually have one more exhibition game before they get into the games that count. That's tomorrow morning (a bright and early 9 a.m. Pacific puck drop) against Jokerit of the Finnish Elite League. Unfortunately, there is no TV for that game, but the radio broadcast will be carried live on AM 830 and on, where we'll also do our best to have other updates.

Jokerit is the same team Teemu Selanne played his junior hockey with from 1988 through 1992 and they have won six Finnish Elite League championships (1973, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2002). Selanne, who invested in Jokerit in the mid-'90s, currently owns about 2 to 3 percent of the team and their home, Hartwall Areena (not a typo).

Boston goalie Tim Thomas' incredible climb from toiling in the minors and Europe before becoming the reigning Conn Smythe winner included some time with Jokerit. Thomas played there during the 2004-05 lockout, his fourth stint in Finland, and even signed with the team in August of '05. But just before their season started, Thomas signed with the Bruins. 

The Ducks will see on familiar face on the Jokerit side, as Jarkko Ruutu signed with them over the summer and has two goals in the seven games they've played so far this season.

This trip hasn't been completely about hockey though, despite the fact the Ducks started practicing almost immediately after landing in Finland Sunday morning (that started after midnight Anaheim time). After that workout the team took a day trip to a place called Sauna Island, half of them via a yacht called "Lucky 8" (see if you can guess who that belongs to) and the rest on a yacht belonging to a friend of the aforementioned lucky 8. (If you haven't heard already, saunas are very big in Finland. Kind of like breathing is big in the States.)

In this story by the OC Register's Jeff Miller (who is along with the Ducks this whole week), George Parros said before the trip, "I'm super excited. This island, it sounds like Shangri-La. We're going across some fjord to some spa. Sounds like a 'Fantasy Island' thing. I'm not sure. Are there going to be gnomes out there waiting for us or something? I don't have a clue."

Said Selanne of the trip, "This is awesome. There's not going to be any hassle or anything like that because we want to keep the low profile. Low profile, low profile. I try to be a normal guy."

Yeah, this photo of the side of Hartwall Areena shows exactly how "normal" Selanne is not over there. (In case you can't tell, that's Teemu's 50-foot-high face hanging from the side of the building.)

We've had coverage of the Ducks' arrival in Finland and their preparation at a practice rink adjacent to Hartwall Areena. You can find all of the features, video, photos and Twitter feed of players and reporters on the trip on the NHL Premiere page

Meanwhile, here's a video report from Kent French on the first couple days in Finland. More to come later in the week.

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