The Wild has spent three days in Finland, with five more to come. There hasn't been a game yet, but the Wild players have kept busy with a practice in a cave, a practice in front of thousands of fans, a trip to sauna island (cameras forbidden) and a bus tour of Helsinki (photos to come in another photo diary later this week). There was also a Finnish Elite League game, which players did not attend but management did (a photo gallery from that night will come later as well).
Today's photo diary has a look at the player lives from the first steps onto Finnish soil to today's open practice at Hartwall Areena.
Okay, so this photo wasn't taken during the trip, but it was emailed to me while we were on the plane to Helsinki. It's Antti Miettinen's band, Cement (Semmentti), and there's the Wild winger on the left tickling the six string.
Mikko Koivu is all smiles as he departs the plane upon landing in Helsinki. Actually, he's smiling at Cal Clutterbuck, who is leading the way and blowing kisses to the media crowd gathered on the tarmac.
And here is that media crowd. The guy on the far left is Star Tribune beat writer Mike Russo. Look at the intensity in his eyes!
Speaking of intensity. Antti Miettinen, seen here before entering an airport press conference, could not look happier to be having his picture taken after nine hours on a plane.
Chuck Fletcher answers a question in English. Backstrom, Koivu and Miettinen answered their questions in Finnish, and Backstrom even spun some Swedish to show he hasn't lost his linguistic edge.
The good guys dress in black, remember that. Just in case we ever face to face and make contact. The Men In Black take a light walk to get their legs moving after arriving at the hotel.
Saturday's skate was held in the Hartwall Areena practice rink, which is dug into a cave, and has this white rock surrounding all of it. The overhang you see actually is suspended about 12 feel over that corner of the rink.
I assume this is the workout facility for media.
I'm thinking about entering this photo into some contests. You've got Finnish native Nik Backstrom with the Finnish flag on the back of his helmet about to encounter a young Finnish boy prior to the Wild's open practice. I mean, the imagery is just spectacular.
The two other fan favorites throw their signatures down.
The folks in charge of the Minnesota Wild's Hockey Lodge team store are smiling right now.
The entire lower side of the Hartwall Areena was packed, and they even had to add two more sections to accomodate the masses.
After attending a game last night, I am an I.F.K. fan to the core, but you've got to hand it to their rivals, Jokerit. That is one of the best logos in all of sports. He will be keeping one eye on the Wild and Hurricanes at all times on Thursday and Friday.
This is a very large germ that was in the concourse during the open practice. Kids, make sure you wash your hands, or else...
...A germ might eat you! (side note: look how hard the kid in the background is laughing. I love Finland!)