Never Finished – Hockey Continues to Boom in Finland

You probably haven’t thought that much of Finland. Don’t worry, most people haven’t. As a first generation American with two Finnish parents, I think of Finland every day. More specifically Finnish hockey. It’s not the only thing we’re good at, but even if you don’t know anything about Finland, you know we’re a cold weather climate perfect for skating ponds and pick up games. For a country so small, to have such success on the international hockey stage is astounding. As the reigning World Champions; Finnish players, specifically goalies, are commonplace around the NHL. But it wasn’t always the case.

Depending on who you ask, the first Finnish player in the NHL was Matti Hagman or Pentti Lund. Lund is credited as being the first Finnish born player in the NHL. If you ask the NHL history books, he’s Finnish-Canadian. Matti Hagman is highlighted as the first Finnish born and trained player to play in the NHL, having played for the Boston Bruins, Quebec Nordiques and the Edmonton Oilers. Finnish names used to be few and far between in the NHL, we don’t blame you for not being able to pronounce them. In the 80’s we had Jarri Kurri, playing on the legendary Oilers teams. In the 90’s and into the 2000’s we had Teemu Selanne, the Finnish Flash who paved the way for the explosion of Finnish players we have today. Since 2013, there have been seven Finnish top 10 NHL Draft picks. At any point in the last 20 years, many of the top goalies of the NHL have been Finnish. The Boston Bruins hot 2019 start cannot be separated from the outstanding play of Finnish netminder Tuuka Rask. Internationally, Finland is the reigning World Champion, winning under the radar in a tournament dominated by NHL stars from Canada and the United States. It shouldn’t make sense to be so successful but somehow Finland makes it happen.

Personally, I can’t point to any one specific trait that all Finnish players have that could have lead to such a disproportionate amount of success but I’ll make an attempt here. In Finland, we have a term called Sisu. It’s a word that has no literal English translation but it defines what it means to be Finnish. It’s frequently defined as “the Finnish spirit,” but that’s not an accurate description in my mind. Sisu is the will to win after others would have given up. Sisu is the ability to press through pain, defeat all the odds, and find a way to succeed when no one thinks it’s possible. Through the long Finnish winter, 24 hours of darkness and tons of snow, you develop something inside of you that helps you push though the tough times.
If I could put together an All-Time Finnish roaster, you would all be bored. However, in order to narrow it down to an All-Time Finnish Line, I need to suspend reality for a moment. The two best Finnish players in the history of the NHL play the same position. Teemu Selanne and Jarri Kurri are both NHL Hall of Fame inductees and still hold NHL records. If one of them could switch to Left Wing, my life would be a lot easier. I can’t pick just one. My starting Finnish Line (and their goalie) would have to be a combo of Selanne, Kurri, and the phenomenal Saku Koivu. Not only did he spend 18 seasons in the NHL, about 10 of them as captain of the Montreal Canadiens, but he did it all after beating non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma early in his NHL career. If that’s not Sisu, I don’t know what is. When selecting a Finnish goalie, I have a lot of greats to choose from. My personal choice would be Miikka Kiprusoff. His awards and statistics speak for themselves. With scores of talented goalies, it’s a huge statement to say that he may be the greatest Finnish goalie of all time. One day we may be saying that about Tuuka Rask but let’s focus on one goalie at a time here.

To be honest with you all, this has taken far longer than I thought it would if only because there are so many talented Finnish players in the NHL today. The future of Finnish hockey looks bright and for once, it’s not only because we have goalies that can stop the other team from scoring. The next time you see a last name on the ice with too many vowels to make sense, stop and think of the small but strong country that’s proud to see one of its own suit up in the NHL.

McDavid Is Goliath

Connor McDavid has established himself as one of the top players in the NHL the past 5 seasons since being drafted #1 overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2015, and the start to the 2019/20 season continues to show that. The 22-year-old Oilers center is off to scorching start tallying 17 points in the Oilers first 7 games of the season including a 5-point performance last night at home against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Oilers captain tallied 4 assists and 1 highlight reel goal to secure the 6-3 victory. The 5-point performance Wednesday night put McDavid in elite company joining Mario Lemieux and former Oilers great Wayne Gretzky as the only players in the last 26 years to record 17 or more points through their first 7 games of the season. Although this pace might be hard to keep up, McDavid is on track to have a 200-point season which has only been done 4 times in NHL history. All 4 by none other than the great one Wayne Gretzky. McDavid will look to continue his hot start when the Detroit Red Wings come to town tomorrow night. Be sure to check out all our autographed Conor McDavid and Wayne Gretzky items on!

Conor McDavid’s market is still being formed when each massive game he has. By seasons end, he could be in the conversation with Mike Trout’s MLB market. McDavid is the best in his sport and has his best days ahead of him. Playing in Edmonton may not be the best situation for his stardom but with some of the performances he has put up at 22 years old, the sky is the limit. Our expert recommendation is to get in the game now. Those who invest early in these transcendent stars typically make it out on top if they are looking to flip product. Start the collection small with a signed McDavid photo or an All Star Puck. Slowly but surely you can add to the collection with a framed jersey of #97.

Cyber Monday

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