We're in the final countdown till the 2010-11 NHL Season opens in Helsinki at 12 noon tomorrow. The Carolina Hurricanes have had full practices the last two days at Helsinki's Hartwall Arena, but there have been a few extra-curriculars both the team and the 320-plus fans have been enjoying as well. I've got links to keep you up on both the on-ice and off-ice endeavors.
First up, the Finnish media have been focusing much of their energy on the three Finns on the Carolina roster. Jussi Jokinen, Joni Pitkanen, and Helsinki native Tuomo Ruutu are indeed the center of attention.
From NHL.com's Dan Rosen who has been traveling with the team since the game here in Raleigh last Friday: 'Canes coach Maurice high on his Finnish triumvirate - 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere Speaking to a Finnish TV station Tuesday, Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice had high praise for the trio of Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu and Joni Pitkanen. Plus this audio link of Maurice to hear all his comments.
Reports are now that Joe Corvo is unlikely to play in the opener as his lingering lower body injury, described as minor, needs another day of rest. There are still seven NHL players with them, so who will be the one to sit with Corvo tomorrow. Rosen writes: Hurricanes facing tough decisions on defense The Hurricanes are fortunate to have so many defensemen playing well. The tough part now is going to be picking who stays and who goes.
We also hear that Jiri Tlusty, though cleared to play, was considered by Paul Maurice as not quite in game condition with only two games in the preseason. Tlusty will sit out tomorrow, and Drayson Bowman will go in his place.
Here's a report from Minnesota Wild's hometown newspaper, the Star-Tribune's Mike Russo who has been all over Helsinki the last few days.The connection between Matt Cullen and the Hurricanes is also becoming a good story line: Hurricanes arrive in Helsinki | StarTribune.com Clutterbuck deserved every goal he got yesterday, but do you see the common trait of camp so far? Players succeed next to Matt Cullen, whom I happen to be writing about tomorrow. And Cullen was real good talking about his hockey life and how Carolina saved his career and shaped him as hockey player and in particular a leader. His follow up piece on Cullen is a great read, and he shot some video with a few observations about the Canes at their practice included in this story: Change is career elixir for Cullen | StarTribune.com
The Hurricanes' Paul Branecky posted a story (though, regrettably, no slideshow) at his Tracking the Storm blog: Canes Make Final Preparations While he talks about the status of the team on the ice, he also did his darndest to get some comments from the players regarding the evening they spent together Tuesday at Sauna Island. This is the best he got:
"I’ve been to the sauna many times, but never like that," said Joni Pitkanen.
A bit more on the Sauna Island excursion, more video, and some other links (including an awesome look at team chemistry from 2006 Stanley Cup winner, Bret Hedican) you'll enjoy after the jump,
Again today there were a bunch of post-practice videos at NHL.com.
Jussi Jokinen :
Plus this audio-only link to comments from Jim Rutherford, Wednesday with the Finnish press.
But all work and no play makes Tuomo and his teammates dull boys
Building on the little details Paul Branecky coaxed out of team members regarding their Sauna trip, Dan Rosen gets us maybe a little more: Ruutu enjoyed showing off sauna experience to 'Canes - 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere
The Carolina Hurricanes players experienced a unique Finnish tradition Tuesday when they spent the day at Sauna Island. Asked what he has heard about the players' full-tilt sauna experience, one of Finland's cultural phenomenons, Maurice said, "That they had a great time and it was a really, really good team event. I don't want too many details on the event."
Today's practice at Hartwall and the group luncheon with all the Hurricanes and the hundreds of Carolina fans today is surely something LTD will be sharing with us before long. But Canes Country regulars Cyn4Canes and RaccoonFink posted over a hundred candid photos here on facebook. That's a lot of Caniacs.
Hope you've been over at some point to read the always superb Hurricane Siren blog from another blog regular, caniacgirl, to check out the 36 Reasons Jussi Jokinen needs to be an All-Star (which was also shared as a fanshot yesterday). Because the campaign is getting geared up with 35 days till the voting starts, now would be the right time to become a fan of the official Jussi for ASG page on facebook. Because, first off, Jussi is watching, and secondly, y'know, for the moments of joy he's given us fans the last eighteen months, we kinda owe him.
The N&O has posted a couple stories on the Hurricanes today as well.
Canes' Skinner ready to take shot at career - NewsObserver.com Jeff Skinner was named "Man of the Match" for the Carolina Hurricanes and was clutching a small trophy Monday after a 5-3 preseason loss to SKA St. Petersburg of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. and this earlier this afternoon: Canes Now - For Canes, it's time to play
Finally, in the context of one crazy game in Russia and the open-to-anything shared experience that was Sauna Island, here is a look back at how important it is to build team chemistry as described by the one-and-only Bret Hedican. For Championships, Chemistry Is Often the Best Teammate | Playbook
Last look at St Petersburg
Cory Lavalette minces no words in this story on the show we witnessed Monday: Russian Revulsion: NHL-KHL Exhibition Turns Ugly - From The Rink The winners of the Carolina-SKA exhibition walked away looking like losers due to the KHL team's dirty play.
And similar sentiments here: Should the NHL continue to face KHL teams in the preseason? - Puck Daddy
Sure, playing KHL teams exposes Russian fans to the NHL product. But it also elevates the KHL to that of an equal; which, from a global marketing perspective, would some counterintuitive for the NHL. Still, it might make sense in an international tournament or in a series of games; but in an exhibition one-off, it has no upside for the NHL.
"What kind of fairy tale would it be without some wild twists in the plot? For the first three and a half minutes of the second period Carolina whipped up a hurricane which overwhelmed the SKA defense and the guests leveled the score. Then a different kind of contest appeared, the kind hinted at in the evening program. Alexei Petrov went to the aid of Maxim Sushinsky, who had been on the receiving end of some pretty rough treatment, and although Petrov’s tussle with Tim Gleason came to nothing, it at least showed that European players can stand up for themselves.
AHL and Prospect News
The Hockey News: Headlines: A closer look at 10 compelling storylines heading into 2010-11 NHL season More Calder Trophy mentions for Skinner in the Rookie storyline.
Other 2010 Draftpicks in the news: The Atlanta Thrashers have signed their first round pick (8th overall), Alexander Burmistrov who sure seemed to put in a good showing when we faced them in the preseason. Out in Anaheim, the Ducks pick, 18-year-old defenseman Cam Fowler, who was expected to go much higher than 12th overall in June, will start the season in the big league. However, it's an interesting scenario in Sunrise, as the Florida Panthers couldn't afford to sign their #1 pick: Seven June picks stick; shockingly, Gudbranson's not among them - Buzzing The Net - Yahoo! Sports Make no mistake, on merit, Gudbranson won a roster spot. TSN's Darren Dreger tweeted just a few minutes ago that, "Budget restraints stopped Florida from giving Gudbranson the bonuses he was after. He made the team, but is now headed back to the OHL."
Meet the Checkers: Brad Herauf | Checkers Chatter The 28 year old is an energy-type player. The kind you hate to play against but love to have on your team.
"Hockey In The USA" Teaser Video Clip " from Backyard-Hockey.com includes a 4-minute video previewing a hockey documentary filmed during the Vancouver Olympics. This clip focuses on the hockey mad fans in Hershey, PA. BTW, you have heard about NHL problem-child Sheldon Souray's deportation from Edmonton to Hershey today? Oh, to be a fly on the boards when he and Wade Redden trade stories during warm-ups of a Bears vs Whalepack game this season.
A look at who's on the hot seat in the East - 2010-2011 Season Preview NHL.com goes through team-by-team and looks at 15 players in the Eastern Conference who will be under big pressure to perform in 2010-11.
Down Goes Brown: Take the Quiz: How will your team do this season? The multiple choice test will answer all your questions as only DGB can do it.