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Rocking Out

by Dan Myers / Minnesota Wild

Minnesota Wild forward Antti Miettinen won't be confused with Steven Tyler or Mick Jagger anytime soon. But that's fine by him. In fact, the quiet, laid-back "Mitts" seems to be fine with most things. His calm demeanor never seems to change, other than cracking a smirk or two after a well-timed joke in the locker room.

If you've been around Antti, the last thing you'd expect to see him doing in rocking out on a stage in front of a crowd while jamming on an electric six string. Among the many off ice activities Miettinen enjoys is kicking back with some buddies back home and playing music. The group calls themselves "Cement." They haven't cracked the Top 40 yet, or even played a sold out venue. But Miettinen and his band did play one important gig -- his wedding.

"We just decided to do something else besides always go golfing," Miettinen said of his friends and bandmates. "So we picked up the instruments and started learning."

Miettinen plays guitar in the group, which performs "a little bit of everything," but mainly covers, including Nirvana, which Miettinen said is his favorite. But the group has also written some songs of its own. He even got the seal of approval from Assistant Equipment Manager Rick Bronwell, the Wild's resident music expert who also moonlights as a guitar player.

"Some of the stuff I've heard him make on his own, it's really good," said Bronwell. "He's definitely a musician. He can play guitar, bass or drums. He even mixed some complex stuff, and I was really impressed. I would absolutely buy something that he and his band put out there, if they ever do it."

Some of Miettinen's teammates aren't as quick to praise the sound of Cement. Not even his own countryman.

"I heard some on his iPod once," joked teammate and friend Mikko Koivu. "But I've never been invited to watch them, so I've never seen them play."

"That's true," Miettinen said of the invite snub of perhaps Finland's biggest star. "He wasn't at my wedding, and that was our only gig."

Miettinen says his wedding will likely be the group's only performance, at least for now. Despite the heavy praise from Bronwell, he says he has no aspirations of a music career when his hockey days are over. Music, he says, is just something different for him and his buddies to do. It's also a way for him to unwind when things get busy.

Being in a band sounds unusual for a guy who admittedly "isn't the loudest guy in the locker room." The closet rocker usually keeps to himself, but he also tends to be the one to break the ice when things get a little tense.

Consider it the rock star in him.

"I don't know if I'm any good at it," Miettinen said, "but I try to be pretty open, and have a sense of humor."

The 30-year-old forward is in the prime of his career on and off the ice. Since signing a three year contract with the Wild in the summer of 2008, Miettinen has missed only three games. He also suited up for Finland earlier this year at the Olympics where he won a bronze medal. In addition, he and his wife Johanna welcomed their son Noel, the couple's first child, into the world last January.

Fatherhood had changed Miettinen for the good he says.

"Having a little boy at home helps, it gets your mind off of hockey sometimes," he said. "Watching the little guy grow up, it's special. I'm laughing at home more than I ever have."

And getting Noel on skates?

"There is no plan for that, but he is pretty active," Miettinen said. "He's on the move all the time."

But is there a chance Noel could grow up in the house of a hit recording artist?

"I don't think that's going to happen," Miettinen said. "We'll keep playing as long as we like it. But hopefully I'll be too old to be a rock star by the time I'm done with hockey."
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