The Minnesota Wild and crew have arrived in Finland at last, clad in their green and black team sweat suits. I love the sweatsuit idea. It reminds me of a youth hockey team playing in an out of town tournament in “the Cities.” I fully expect to see a knee hockey game breakout in the hotel hallways and chicken fights in the pool tonight.
It was touch and go for awhile last night when the plane’s engine was in need of repair. Anytime that happens, the blame can only be placed squarely on the team’s media relations folks, who in this case would be Ryan Stanzel (formerly of the Wild.com R.S.S. feed) and Aaron Sickman.
Not to worry, Stanzel was quick on his feet and knew that Finland is famous for cruise ships, so he made a couple calls to “his people.” Soon after, we were on a bus bound for Duluth, where we boarded a luxury ferry and methodically made our way through the chain of Great Lakes, out the St. Lawrence seaway across “the pond,” through the frigid waters of the North Sea and safely into the Helsinki harbor of the Baltic Sea. At least that’s what I think happened. I slept most of the way.
By my count, we only lost a couple hours in the process, so the only problem was that the press conference welcoming the Wild was delayed a bit (again, this falls on the media relations guys).
The press conference was held in the Helsinki airport with Nik Backstrom, Mikko Koivu, Antti Miettinen, Todd Richards and Chuck Fletcher as the featured speakers. The rest of the team went straight to the hotel, which is a shame because they missed a lovely media gathering.
Fletcher and Richards answered their questions in English, but Koivu, Miettinen and Backstrom spoke mostly Finnish (except Backstrom, who even threw a little Swedish out there just to impress everybody).
Upon arrival at the hotel near downtown Helsinki, the players got settled and strapped on the feedbag in the hotel buffet. Then, strength and conditioning coach took the entire team on a 30-minute walk around town “to get the legs going a little bit.” That will be the extent of the workout today, but the team will be back on the ice tomorrow for its practice of the trip.
Some say Minnesota and Finland are very similar, but in just a couple hours here, I’ve noticed one major difference. Their VH1 channel plays music videos. Where is Flavor of Love 4?
That about does it for today’s action. It’s time for me to hit the wrapper because I haven’t adjusted to the time change yet. It’s actually a week later here, but don’t worry, the Twins are up two-games-to-none on the Yankees and the Americans beat the Euros in the Ryder Cup!