Welcome (Tervetuloa!) to what I hope will be a regular feature throughout the summer, with updates and general information (a mini-Clicks & Clippings of sorts) as we count down to the 2010-2011 Hurricanes season opener on October 7th in Helsinki against the Minnesota Wild.
Despite a disappointing finish for Your Carolina Hurricanes last season, optimism and enthusiasm remain high for next season. That enthusiasm has manifested itself in some really impressive numbers of Caniacs committing to make the pilgrimage to Finland. Demand was nothing short of overwhelming during the first few days after the AAA Travel package was announced, but everyone who requested a trip package was accommodated. Ticket-only purchases remain available through the box office, and AAA can still assist with other aspects of travel arrangements although I believe that the original package offering is now technically sold out. Estimates are that through direct ticket sales and AAA Travel bookings we have between 250 and 300 people signed up so far. Astounding and outstanding!
The Wild announced their trip package a couple of weeks ago. Head-to-head it’s a bit more expensive than the one offered for us. I’ve perused most of the Wild’s fan boards and while there has been some commentary it’s been nothing compared to the Canes chatter, so it’s hard to gauge how their participation compares to ours. Stay tuned on updates on that front along with any updates regarding the other teams that are playing in Europe.
Speaking of games being played across the pond, it has been announced that the Canes will likely be playing at least one preseason game against St. Petersburg of the KHL, although no date has been confirmed yet. Readers, anyone interested in that side trip from Helsinki? More details on this to follow as well as they develop.
Now all we need is a theme song!
An epic event like this must have an appropriate theme, and I am happy to report that we have it covered, courtesy of our kind friends at Kids & Community and an always-cooperative Finn who were generous with their time at the Caniac Cookout to help the cause.
I have it on VERY good authority that this is the Finnish translation of "What Happens in Helsinki Stays in Helsinki". Oh yeah, this is going on a t-shirt. In fact, consider this a shout-out for t-shirt help, if anyone has suggestions or experience with graphic design or t-shirt printing, I’d be most appreciative. The above is actually large enough to be the back graphic, and we could use a small logo/design for the front. Comment here with your suggestions, or if anyone wants to contact me directly about the printing, click on my profile to send me an email.
So what do the players think of all this?
There were lots of comments by the players during exit interviews, if you haven’t had the chance to check them out, they’re up on CanesVision Online. There’s some concern, naturally, about the length of the trip and the tolls of overseas travel, but for most, it’s a time to spend time bonding with a newer and younger team. The word most used to describe the opportunity was "cool". Obviously the Finns are all delighted for the rare opportunity to play NHL hockey in front of their families and friends in their home country.
Perhaps the player who has the most unique perspective on the event is Jussi Jokinen, who will be making his second trip overseas in a European premiere. Here’s an excerpt from Paul Branecky’s article when the trip was announced (don't you just love how hockey players always think things are "neat"?):
The event will mark the second time that Jokinen has participated in the European Premiere, having also played for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Prague back in 2008.
"It was pretty cool because we had a lot of Czech players then," he said. "I remember thinking that it would be pretty neat to go to Finland, but it was pretty sure it would never happen. It’s really neat."
Jokinen went on to say that, regardless of nationality, taking the equivalent of a long road trip to start the year serves as a valuable team-building experience.
"It’s going to help if we have some new faces next year," he said. "Even if we don’t, it’s so big with bonding as a team. It’s a totally different culture and it’s all of your teammates, so you all do things together. I think that’s really going to help us."
So exactly what is happening in Helsinki?
Well first off, if you haven’t already checked out the Canes in Finland Facebook page, please do so and join the group! We're up to 125 members. A number of travelers have signed up along with some folks from Finland who will be attending from there and others generally interested in the event. It’s a great spot for interacting with people who are going on the trip, and for sharing travel tips and information about activities and events that are going on in Helsinki.
Some cool sites to check out:
This is Finland – A hip, easy-to-read guide to Finnish culture, published by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Helsinki Tourism Facebook Page - Daily updates on current and special events. While perusing this page I found a really cool link to a "Stuck in Helsinki" Facebook page where residents offered their homes to travelers stranded during the volcanic ash alert. Very nice use of social media!
And I personally loved this site… with temperatures likely hovering around the 40s during our stay it’s important to know how to dress warmly yet look cool on the streets of Helsinki. HEL-Looks.com to the rescue!
157 days peeps! And remember, Mitä Tapahtuu Helsingissä Jää Helsinkiin!
Hyvä Suomi! Hyvä Canes!