Welcome to what will be the final episode of WHIH before the friendly skies part and the small army that is Caniac Nation invades mysterious, exotic, remote, tiny, wacky Finland. By this time next week the long plane trip will be behind us, hopefully along with the jet lag, and we'll be ready to rock Helsinki. Please forgive me if I'm starting to sound just a little giddy.
It struck me as kind of ironic that the premise of this entire blog series has been that what happens in Helsinki STAYS in Helsinki, but in reality we travelers are going to do everything we can to bring Helsinki to the readers here at Canes Country!
Read more after the jump.
If all goes according to plan, I will be posting daily with stories and photos so stay tuned here and on twitter and I'll do my best to make sure all the news and events get the attention they deserve. If you want to bookmark my trip album on flickr you can click here, for non-Canes events I share phoblographer duties with the rest of the family so who knows what treasures you might find.
I have a few odds and ends to cover and if there's anything I forget or if there are any questions, just let me know!
The LTD family arrives in Finland on Sunday, and the majority will follow behind us shortly, leaving Monday and arriving Tuesday morning. For the first few days, while the team is in Russia, the focus will be on experiencing Helsinki and Finnish culture. Just to set appropriate expectations, my priorities for these first few days are:
2. Reindeer meat.
3. Anything else is gravy (which is probably especially tasty with reindeer).
Once the team arrives in Helsinki, starting on Wednesday, we'll be shifting focus to the team events and then the Compuware Premiere games before heading back on Saturday, October 9.
As a reminder here are the scheduled events for the AAA tour group:
Sun, 10/3 thru Tues, 10/5
Team practice and luncheon
Helsinki tour (am), first game (7 pm, noon Raleigh)
Porvoo tour (am), second game (7 pm, noon Raleigh)
Sat, 10/9 and beyond
On a somber note, I've been notified by one of the trip participants that due to family circumstances they may not be able to make the trip. They are a party of two and purchased the land-only package with lower-level tickets and separate air fare. If there is anyone in the viewing area that has a change of heart at the last minute and would like to pick up their travel package, please contact me (you can get to my email from my profile) and I will pass along the information.
Our own John Forslund will be covering the games on Versus along with Billy Jaffe. You all must keep us posted and let us know if the man with the lustrous sideburns mentions the Caniacs or the WHIH t-shirts (I suspect he might). As far as I know, ChuckandtheletterK will also be calling the game for 99.9 The Fan.
If you haven't already checked it out, do yourself a favor and check out Dan Rosen's blog on nhl.com. Dan is covering the Canes during their European tour and he's already been a wealth of great (and humorous) information. He will travel to Raleigh for the final preseason game on Friday and then from here travel with the team on their many adventures through Russia and Finland.
EDIT 9/30/2010: Dan Rosen has just updated his blog with the team's itinerary for next week, worth a look if you want to track their whereabouts.
Friday: Preseason game vs. Atlanta at 1:30; Charter flight to St. Petersburg departs after the game, around 6.
Saturday: Arrive in St. Petersburg at 1 p.m. local time; off-ice workout at Jubilee practice facility followed by players-only dinner with NHLPA officials.
Sunday, Oct. 3: Practice at 11 a.m. at Jubilee followed by a player/staff/media bus tour of St. Petersburg and a team-only dinner at a local restaurant.
Monday, Oct. 4: Morning skate at Ice Palace; Team lunch at hotel, Game vs. SKA St. Petersburg at 7 p.m.; Charter departs after the game and arrives in Helsinki at 11:15 local time.
Tuesday, Oct. 5: Practice at Hartwall Arena followed by player-only event at Sauna Island.
Wednesday, Oct. 6: Practice at Hartwall Arena followed by a team lunch with fans and a press conference.
Thursday, Oct. 7: Morning skate at Hartwall Arena; Team lunch at hotel, Game vs. Minnesota at 7 p.m., Post-game dinner at team hotel.
Friday, Oct. 8: Morning skate at Hartwall Arena; team lunch at hotel; Game vs. Minnesota at 7 p.m.; Charter departs from Helsinki at midnight.
Saturday, Oct. 9: Charter flight arrives in Raleigh at approximately 4 a.m. ET.
Still no formal word as to whether the game against SKA/St. Petersburg will be broadcast online. We know it is being televised in Russia and Mike Sundheim previously reported that the Canes are trying to get at least online feeds to be made available through nhl.com; if there's any announcement in that regard we'll report it here. The game is not planned for TV broadcast in Helsinki either; previously I investigated whether it would be feasible to reserve a room with a projection unit for the online broadcast but it was VERY cost prohibitive for the small number of fans who will be there by game time, so that plan was abandoned. In the meantime, Puck Daddy found a KHL promotional ad that's worth a watch so we can check out our opponents (I think it's fair to say that most of their team, as opposed to ours, is indeed old enough to shave).
Have you spotted the #WHIH t-shirts in and around the arena? Well, they're everywhere! I know they've been tweeted and made the videoboard for at least one of the preseason games, and according to some reports were quite a hit at the Caniac Carnival for a certain population of hockey-playing Finns. We have a few local celebrities sporting them, and more interest than ever imagined.
If you are reading this and ordered a t-shirt but have NOT picked it up, your last chance to do so will be at the pre-season game on October 1. I will be in the parking lot AFTER the game for about half an hour to distribute the rest of the shirts. I will NOT be available before or during the game. I will attempt to arrive early and will park in the West Lot, Section 5000 (the non-premier section) in the first numbered spot I can find that ends in the number #15, so 5115, 5215, etc. Look for me there after the game.
There have also been a number of folks who didn't buy shirts the first go-around that now, having seen their Finnish awesomeness, gotta have one. Told ya! After our return from Finland, I will attempt to arrange another order, but I can't guarantee that I'll be able to do that, nor can I guarantee the original price. I need at least 25-30 orders to justify another printing, so stay tuned for additional information after I get back (and have a chance to exhale).
Also, because the orders greatly exceeded the original estimates, I was able to get an additional quantity discount which gave us some leftover funds. The residuals from the t-shirt sales will be donated to a very worthy cause, and I'll report more on that next week from Helsinki.
The weather in Helsinki this time of year is on the cool side (high 40s to low 50s) and with change of season is often rainy, but so far the forecast looks absolutely delightful! The weather outlook is mostly sunny with a few clouds. The days are just slightly shorter there than here. As a comparison:
On Thursday, October 7, 2010 in Helsinki, the sun will rise at 7:40 am and set at 6:36 pm
On Thursday, October 7, 2010 in Raleigh, the sun will rise at 7:14 am and set at 6:50 pm
Planning should be finished, nothing left to do but enjoy the last preseason game, pack, and head off for what will hopefully be an epic adventure! Until then, Hyvä Suomi! Hyvä Canes!