Tag Archives: Aaron Sickman

Finland Day Three

Good evening everybody, although it’s the afternoon back in Minny, if that’s where you’re currently located. I know that some of you are right here in Helsinki because 110 Wild fans arrived in town today for a week of fun and watching the good guys in the NHL Premiere. Welcome to Finland!

Let me know if you want me to show you around. After three days and a guided tour of the city today, I feel like a native.

Today was a nice little Sunday. As you know, yesterday the Wild players made a trip to Sauna Island in the afternoon before returning. I’m not sure what they did with the rest of their Saturday night, but I would assume they hung out in their rooms and maybe caught a new release. I see that Iron Man 2 is playing.

Whatever they did, they were at their best at Hartwall Areena for today’s open practice in front of a couple thousand Finns, at least! The Areena staff had to open up a couple of blocked off sections because more people came than expected. They love their Wild here.

As for practice, the three injured guys – Brent Burns, Guillaume Latendresse and Marek Zidlicky – all skated. It appears all should be good to go by Thursday’s season opener. Burns and Zidlicky will most likely play in tomorrow’s exhibition in Tampere.

Following practice, the players grabbed a quick lunch, many opting for a Finnish specialty restaurant called “Subway.” I was one of the customers and was blown away. You can get a 30 cm. sandwich here!

After that, it was time for a guided tour of Helsinki. The players boarded one bus, and coaches and management boarded another. Wild PR guru Aaron Sickman took the flip cam with the players, so I went on the management bus and snapped photos (which will appear in a gallery later this week). I made the right choice. We had a travel guide named Ripsu, who was absolutely hysterical.

Two of her gems that I can remember: 1) Talking about the celebration of Vappu, which lasts 24 hours from April 30 to May 1, she said, “May 1 is a great day to come to Helsinki because everybody is partying and everybody is drunk. May 2 is not a good day to come because everybody is sick. In Helsinki, we speak many languages, but on May 2, we don’t speak anything.” and 2) There is a statue of Labor in the middle of downtown, which features three muscular, naked men with hammers. Ripsu said, “I call those my three ex-husbands, but that would not be true because I only have two ex-husbands. But they are naked because I took everything in the divorce.”

Ripsu was a big hit on the bus, as was the tour. Helsinki is a beautiful city with colorful buildings, a beautiful harbor and many statues and squares. Ripsu had information on all of them, which made me regret giving the flipcam to Sickman. I could have educated all of you who haven’t been here. A couple highlights were a church that is built inside of rock, which surrounds the pews on all sides. Then, there was a metal sculpture of tubes in a park that you are supposed to stick your head in to hear music. Again, there will be photos posted of all of this in a couple days.

The full day of activities left everyone tired. Tomorrow’s a game day, so it’s time for some beauty sleep. The next Lighthouse blog may very well be written on a bus ride from Tampere to Helsinki. Have a great Sunday!

Finland Day One

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!