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Kapanen Talks Fashion, Golfing and Vacationing with "Uncle Tans"

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

The best bromance of the summer has been Kasperi Kapanen and Brandon Tanev.

The Penguins teammates recently vacationed together at Kapanen's offseason home in West Palm Beach, Florida, posting photos and videos to their respective Instagram stories of them golfing, boating and generally just having a great time.

"I played against him when I was with the Toronto Marlies and he was playing for Winnipeg's AHL team, and didn't really care too much for him back then," Kapanen said with a laugh in the first edition of The Summer Shift presented by U.S. Steel. "You know him, he kind of gets under your skin a little bit. But I think those are the kind of guys that end up being the best guys on the team. He has great energy.

"Then I came to Pittsburgh, and it just kind of clicked. Ever since then, we've been trying to hang out with each other as much as we could. After the season, we came down here for a bit and tried to kind of unwind."

As Kapanen recently bought the property, he didn't know the area too well at first. So he appreciated having Tanev around to help him explore.

"We were just going out to eat, meeting new people and making some good connections," Kapanen said.

Most of their time was spent on the course, since Kapanen's place is located on one. He has become extremely passionate about golf the last few years, and likes to go out at least one a day - sometimes even twice a day - after he completes his morning workout.

Kapanen and Tanev golfed there and at some other amazing locations, like NBA legend Michael Jordan's course, The Grove XXIII.

"That was unbelievable," Kapanen said. "That was the video with Tans riding that scooter. So they kind of let you do whatever you want there, which is really cool."

While Tanev may have looked like his typical wild self out on the greens - at one point, he was golfing shirtless, with Kapanen joking about that being a textbook way to lose a country club membership - don't let any of that fool you. "Uncle Tans" has got talent.

"I don't want to admit it, but he is a pretty good golfer," said Kapanen, who would include Tanev in his dream foursome along with Tiger Woods and Jon Rahm, his current favorite golfer. "He's got a good swing, and he really nukes it with his drivers. So I'll see if he can give me a couple tips this summer."

Tanev has certainly developed into a cult hero and fan favorite during his time in Pittsburgh, and Kapanen is well on his way to doing the same.

Particularly with his fashion choices, like the bucket hat, sunglasses and old-school Nike shirt he sported at his season-ending media availability; his beloved Crocs; the flashy suits he wears to games; and the cool jewelry he rocks, like the diamond smiley-face bracelet sent to #HappyKappy by a jeweler in Toronto.

That's where Kapanen's interest in fashion really took off, with his former Maple Leafs teammates Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander providing inspiration. Kapanen said it felt like everybody - even the older veterans - tried to compete with one another when it came to their game-day outfits, which is something he really enjoyed.

"I like fashion. Maybe not to the extent of what those guys are kind of doing, but I like to be within the trends a little bit," Kapanen said. "I think that's a big key, is to kind of look at some styles and just be surfing the Internet a little bit, too. And then probably the most important thing is just having the guts to do it. You just got to do it and not really care about what other people think. So for sure, I'm excited for next year to see what I can bring to the team."

In the meantime, Kapanen plans to spend the rest of his offseason split between Pittsburgh and Florida, while also visiting family in Finland and friends in Toronto. Penguins fans can keep up with the 24-year-old winger through his Instagram account, @kasperikapanen1, where he also likes to post screenshots of certain songs he's into, like Mac Miller's "Spins."

"I listen to a lot of music, and it's kind of just like background noise half the time," Kapanen said. "But if some song kind of gets me in that mood, and I start singing to it a little bit and I'm feeling it, then I'll usually just post it. I feel like I've been on fire lately. So gotta keep it going."

Once he returns to Pittsburgh ahead of training camp, Kapanen is looking forward to trying out some of the golf courses around town, like Oakmont. He's also excited to explore Pittsburgh's restaurant scene, since the NHL's COVID-19 protocols prohibited the players from doing a whole lot.

"I think the golf in Pittsburgh is unbelievable," Kapanen said. "That's a really good place to have some fun with the guys. And then probably just going out to some restaurants. There are a couple that I like - Umi and Meat and Potatoes are good. And just hanging out with the guys in general, hopefully they can kind of show me around and take me some places."

Kapanen has been enjoying himself so far this summer, but truly can't wait to reunite with all of the guys and get the 2021-22 season underway.

"It's just a great group," he said. "Just making me feel at home since the second I walked in."

Here's a few more things we learned about Kapanen…

- Kasperi is actually his middle name. "Samu" is his first name, after his father, the longtime NHL player. "But nobody's ever called me that," Kasperi said. "It's a little something you don't know about me, I guess (laughs)."

- His younger sisters Cassandra and Camilla used to be on the Finnish national team for gymnastics. "They loved doing that," Kasperi said. "They're really good. I think they still teach, but it's a hard profession. You have to be one of the best in the world to get sponsors and get paid for it. Otherwise, it's hard to make a living off that." 

He'll likely be watching that event with the girls during the 2021 Summer Olympics, which are set to begin on July 24 in Tokyo. "That sport is wild. I think it'd be really cool to be able to do that stuff," Kasperi said. But the one event he is most looking forward to is the 100-meter dash.

"There's something about it that's very exciting, especially back in the day when you had Usain Bolt," he said. "Just the kind of specimen that he was and how he broke records was really cool to watch."

- And speaking of other sports, athleticism truly does run in the Kapanen family. As if being a professional hockey player and avid golfer wasn't enough, Kasperi recently had posts showing him dominating in bowling and flipping into a pool. "I just love sports," he said. "And if I'm not good at something, I feel like I'm going to try to be at least decent at it and play it a couple more times. I think ping pong is probably one thing I'm not that great at, which is something I should practice at."

- Kapanen's favorite golf course is Augusta National. He got to play it on back-to-back days during the All-Star break two years ago with Nylander, Jake Muzzin and Frederik Anderson. 

"I played it twice, with dinner in between, and just kind of hanging out at that facility and the clubhouse," Kapanen said. "I don't really know how to describe it. It's probably one of the better days I've had in my life. Just always watching the Masters and then finally being able to be out there with some amazing friends and teammates was really special."

- And finally, for those who think putting ketchup on a hot dog is a faux paus, you're not going to like what you're about to read.

"I'm European. I'm Finnish. We put ketchup on everything," Kapanen said. "It's going on mashed potatoes, it's going on pasta, it's going on eggs." 

Wait…pasta?! That actually may be a crime.

"Not as much anymore," Kapanen laughingly backpedaled. "I've kind of gotten rid of that. But it used to go on pasta all the time, like pasta bolognese. So yeah, it was a little disturbing at one point, but we're trying to get away from it now."

And much to the dismay of his teammate Jake Guentzel, Kapanen has never tried a Jake Shake. 

"I've never really been a big dessert guy," Kapanen said. "I can't really handle it. It's like, too sweet for me. But the one exception I do have is ice cream. I'll have a sundae, like vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and whipped cream and a cherry on top. I'll have that any day."

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