While some of us are already en route to Helsinki for the opening game vs the Minnesota Wild next Thursday, the Carolina Hurricanes and their entourage landed in St Petersburg, Russia this morning. The twitterverse is abuzz with stories and photos of their activities. It seems the requests for interviews are piling up and a collection of
paparazzi photographers have come to chronicle their three days in this picturesque city at the eastern extremes of the Gulf of Finland.
One piece of news we have been waiting for: NHL.com to stream 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere games from Europe. The game starts at 11:30 Monday morning, and the feed will be only in Russian. They are telling us that the Russian media will be out in force to cover the action and comments from Eric Staal suggest that though it's only an exhibition, it's hard not to make it something much more important as our NHL team is willing to take on one from the new Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Many in Russia (and North America) regard this game as a huge step forward in the KHL's credibility , as much as it demonstrates an unprecedented spirit of cooperation between the two leagues.
I've got links, mostly to photos, as well as some interviews of how they spent their first day and how they are readying for the final exhibition game of the season on Monday vs the KHL's wealthiest team, SKA-St Petersburg.
From a blogger with SovSport.ru: "Каролина" ходит по городу Петра!" OR: Attention! "Caroline" walking around the city of Peter!, a collection of photographs with captions that, when translated, can't help but make you LOL. Here's one of Tim Gleason looking way more at home than I ever would have predicted.
The Canes have put up their own slide show depicting their arrival and "brisk" walking tour of the city, apparently led by Pete Friesen (no flip flops). This shot of the kids (which for my purposes refers to those under-21-year-old professional hockey players giggling like a varsity high school team) inside the bus grinning at Eric Staal (the team's captain, mind you) as he encounters the eager Russian media might have been my favorite to capture the mood. Or this one reminiscent of some (populous incredibly-fit tracksuit-clad) 60's rock band arriving in the USSR, also caught my eye.
Dan Rosen (twitter: @drosennhl) is the NHL writer assigned to cover the entire experience with frequent and personal updates on his travelog at NHL.com.
His running blog "Start to Finn-ish" is full of interesting smaller anecdotes and quotes from players and coaches
Rosen has also posted some larger pieces (yes, three stories in one day on the Hurricanes on NHL.com - hockeymom's head might explode with such easy pickings):
Only souvenirs 'Canes want from Euro trip is wins The experiences in St. Petersburg and Helsinki should be fun, educational and rewarding, but it will not be successful unless they come home with points.
Russian media out in force to greet Hurricanes: Staal didn't expect the camera crews or photographers, but he didn't mind, either. Neither did the rest of the team when two of the cameramen hopped right on the bus and started filming as the players waited for the rest of their luggage to be loaded on. "It's something that's a little bit different, but cool," he said after conducting his on-camera interviews with the Russian media. "It adds to the experience for our team, and so far it's been fun."
A walk to remember The Carolina Hurricanes’ players, coaches, staffers and several others gathered in the lobby of the Kempinski Hotel here at roughly 3:30 p.m. local time (7:30 a.m. ET) to embark on a brisk, hour-long walk through the streets of bustling downtown St. Petersburg.
In case you were curious, here's a link to that hotel where they're staying. Luxury 5 Star Hotel | Kempinski Hotel Moika 22 St Petersburg: "One of the best luxury hotels in St Petersburg, offers rooms and suites in the centre of the city opposite the Hermitage".
I can't resist one more tweeted photo: Chuck Kaiton in his tracksuit striding across the square in front of the Tsar's Winter Palace. Is there a phrase to capture such a radical juxtaposition of the exotic and familiar captured in this image? I'm going with Rock Star.
Finally, if you didn't catch this from Puck Daddy last week, here's the promo ad SKA-St Petersburg runs to sell tickets in their market. Video: Nabokov, Russian ice girls in KHL promo that will rock you
That Canes game - was it only - yesterday?
Thrashers vs. Hurricanes - 10/01/2010 - Recap While he may not have stopped that one, Cam Ward certainly did his job in goal. Whether it was his sprawling save on Bryan Little in the first period, his breakaway stop on Evander Kane in the second, his blanking of both Atlanta skaters in a third-period two-on-one or the on-his-back kick save in overtime, the Canes' franchise stopper had plenty of highlights to choose from.
Sutter sends Canes off with a bang - NewsObserver.com A preseason exhibition game against the Atlanta Thrashers, and the Carolina Hurricanes' veteran goaltender says he has goosebumps?
Time will tell whether Canes' trip is worth it - DeCock - NewsObserver.com So long. Farewell. Auf wiedersehen. Good night. That's the last we'll see of the Carolina Hurricanes for a long time.
Not completely under-the-radar
Some attention from the home of Hockey Night in Canada focusing on Cam Ward, yesterday's second star, who brings a 1.97 GAA and Save% of .952 to St Petersburg: Top 5 NHL goalies to watch in 2010-11 from cbc.ca. A leg laceration and an upper-body injury limited Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward to just 47 games last season. But there's no reason why you shouldn't expect Ward to regain his form of 2008-09.
Jeff Skinner continues to win over fans after a great showing at Traverse City and a remarkable camp.
2010-11 NHL season preview: Rookies to watch this season - ESPN Luckily Jamie McBain was joined by his teammate Jeff Skinner (at the last minute) on this list of promising young talent.
Fantasy Puck Mail: Fab Freshmen from tsn.ca Scott Cullen also names both McBain and Skinner as ones to watch.
If you haven't seen Toronto Maple Leaf writer & youtube star Steve Dangle's unique comedic analysis of all things hockey, you're missing something. Start here: Who is the next Stamkos? Dangle's Angle
The Checkers start off the preseason well
TheAHL.com | Friday's preseason roundup CHARLOTTE 5, NORFOLK 3 Riley Nash netted a hat trick as the Charlotte Checkers upended the Norfolk Admirals 5-3 in both teams’ preseason opener at Norfolk Scope Arena on Friday night.
Roster of Charlotte Checkers Here's a convenient .pdf with Jersey Numbers! If Mike McKenzie holds a spot there, will be become @MikeMcKenzie12 ?
Of course #11 is taken as Zach Boychuk was on the bus home last night (after a goal of his own) instead of the chartered jet to Russia. That makes me feel worse than anything yet.
Checkers' Mike McKenzie works hard to make team - News14.com - Link to video from Charlotte's News 14 of Mike McKenzie and how he handling the challenge ahead.
Gearing up to win the season on your own terms
Official betting odds for 2010-11 NHL season, from Cup to trophies - Puck Daddy Shows Jeff Skinner at 18:1 for the Calder. Eric Staal mentioned in the Hart, Richard and Ross trophies for most Goals and Most points. Over/Under for Canes at 86.5 pts on season.
You need to see the lead photo for the caption contest here in a new contest at Puck Daddy: Contest: Play Y! fantasy hockey with Zach Parise and Eric Staal - Puck Daddy Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey is teaming up with Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils and Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes for a special fantasy league that will give you the chance to test your skills against a pair of NHLers, a few blog writers and me, your humble associate editor.
Bourne Blog: The painful, personal costs of a serious hockey injury - Puck Daddy Guys with long-term injuries won't see game action for weeks, and the team isn't home for days, so you have to do something. If you're lucky enough to have been in a city long enough, maybe you've tracked down a local friend, or better yet, maybe there's another injured player on your team
Chicago Blackhawks are NHL's ring masters - chicagotribune.com Chicago Blackhawks believe they have commissioned truly spectacular memento of Stanley Cup season
Hockey Broad: espnW seeks to draw in female sports fans This blogger looks behind the quick jokes and sees that maybe it's not as bad as it sounds.
Finally, this is CCM's latest ad featuring the one-and-only Alex Ovechkin as you've only seen him in your nightmares:
For those already on twitter, I have my own list of those traveling with the team, both officially, with the press and just plain fans which you can scroll through, or follow as a group with one click. (Please let me know if you find anyone I need to add)
Bob will be posting some stories to set the stage for the game in St Petersburg in the next day or so. And to all of you gloriously lucky and devoted Hurricanes fans bound for Helsinki in the next day or two, Nähdään Helsingissä!. We'll be watching!