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Hyvää päivää Helsingistä!
And a good day from Winnipeg, too.
Readers, you’ve received your official Finnish greeting from Jay (a.k.a. Chase) – off covering the Winnipeg Jets journey to magnificent Helsinki – and Mike (Dump), who’s hammering out columns at home.
We’re usually joined at the hip, but it’s been nice to have a bit of space between us, like 6,700 kilometres.
The Jets are in the midst of battling the Florida Panthers on back-to-back nights as part of the NHL’s Global Series. It’s the seventh season the league has crossed the Atlantic to play regular-season games as a way to reward “the legion of loyal and passionate international fans by featuring some of the NHL’s biggest stars…”
No disrespect to Jets such as Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Dustin Byfuglien, or the Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trochek or Mike Hoffman, but the spotlight is clearly shared by a pair of young Finnish-born phenoms.
Florida centre Aleksander Barkov and Winnipeg winger Patrik Laine, both from Tampere, are the stars here.
Barkov has already conceded the popularity contest to his buddy, and couldn’t wolf down near as many chicken wings as Laine during a lunch early in the week.
But what happens in front of 13,500 fans at Hartwell Arena tonight and Friday with four points on the line is all that matters.
For now, let’s take a look back at some of the captivating and crazy happenings in hockey over the past week.
While the daylight hours are short in the beautiful Scandinavian city of Helsinki, the workdays have been long ones for Jay.
But what he’s seen, he’s loved during his first foray to Europe.
Much of the fun has been derived from rubbing shoulders with other hockey writers from across the pond – sharing space with them in scrums around players and in press conferences with stars such as Jets winger Laine and his coach, Paul Maurice, and Panthers centre Barkov and his coach, Bob Boughner.
Barkov and Laine are close buddies off the ice and have been chumming around at times in their return home to Finland. They’ve shared chicken wings over lunch and traded good-natured barbs through the media.
The other day, Maurice was asked to compare the two rising stars, which he did, and then this memorable query was fired at the Winnipeg bench boss by a Russian reporter, who has entertained with his line of questioning all week.
Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice's reaction when asked "who will be the daddy" between Laine and Barkov is priceless���� pic.twitter.com/MpxWzW1oLt— Everything Hockey (@EHClothing) October 30, 2018
Loved the eye roll at the end, coach.
Raise your hand if you've ever been guilty of second-guessing a decision made by a coach.
Woah, woah, not all at once! Of course you have. It's part of being a fan.
And so we suspect you'll get a kick out of a new Twitter account which emerged in recent days that puts some of these questionable moves under a microscope.
NHL Coach WatchDog has been "trained to sniff out bad decisions by NHL coaches and bark when he finds them." And this very good boy has been a very busy boy so far.
WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF https://t.co/rXwSo4WG9D— NHL Coach WatchDog (@NHLCoachDog) October 31, 2018
BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK https://t.co/bQjLTZyJLU— NHL Coach WatchDog (@NHLCoachDog) October 30, 2018
BARK BARK https://t.co/woR38VOkDb— NHL Coach WatchDog (@NHLCoachDog) October 27, 2018
It hasn't been the start to his sophomore season that Sami Niku was looking for.
The smooth-skating defenceman didn't crack the opening-night roster of the Winnipeg Jets and was left behind in North America as the big club went to his homeland this week.
Mike wrote about that decision in a column earlier this week.
But give Niku credit. Rather than pout about his plight, the reigning AHL defenceman of the year turned it up a notch the other night in Milwaukee, scoring about as nice of a goal as you'll see for the Manitoba Moose.
It's easy to understand why many are excited about seeing Niku in Jets colours. The kid has elite offensive talent, which he showed in this dazzling display.
The future definitely looks bright.
Before they headed overseas, The Jets were part of some must-see TV over the past week as they took on the Toronto Maples Leafs twice.
Of course, we don't need to remind you that things didn't go so well for the local club. After a lacklusture loss in Winnipeg, the Jets somehow blew a late-game lead and dropped the re-match a few nights later in Ontario.
To which our resident funnyman, Randy Turner, came up with a perfectly topical Tweet.
ME: Hello, is this the store where i can now legally buy marijuana, known to cause forgetfulness and dull emotional pain?— randy turner (@randyturner15) October 28, 2018
ME: Anyway, i was watching the last 5 mins of the #NHLJets game last night and....
THEM: How much do you want?
ME: All of it.
As always, Randy was pretty blunt in his assessment.
As tough as those two defeats were tough to watch for local hockey fans, imagine what it must be like to root for the Jets while living in the centre of the hockey universe.
Jesse Pollock, a self-proclaimed "huge Jets fan," put together a great video the other day showing you just what it's like.
Speaking of the Leafs, whether you care for the team or not you have to admire the prank they pulled on several unsuspecting players this week just in time for Halloween.
The reaction among the victims is priceless, especially Auston Matthews who absolutely loses it.
We're guessing he's not living that one down anytime soon.
They may not have much of an on-ice feud just yet, given one of the two teams has only been in the league for just over a year, but the promotions departments of the Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights had a pretty good battle going leading up to their game earlier this week.
First, Vegas decided to take aim at Nashville for the many banners they raised to the rafters earlier this season.
Weird flex but ok pic.twitter.com/7syJVnVJEa— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) October 30, 2018
And then things spilled over to the rink where the Predators brilliantly mocked the elaborate pre-game ceremony the Golden Knights have become known for.
We're already looking forward to the next chapter in this rivalry. But we'll give this round to the Predators.
Last Saturday was a big night in Tampere for a couple of Winnipeggers.
Ex-NHLer Cam Barker, a former first-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, made his Finnish pro debut with Ilves Tampere of the Finnish SM-Liiiga. The 32-year-old defenceman has been in the KHL for the last five seasons. He was kind enough to sit down with Jay for an interview over breakfast.
Prior to Barker’s first game with the club, another ex-NHLer from the Manitoba capital was feted by the Ilves organization.
Jordy Douglas played 268 NHL games split between the Hartford Whalers, Minnesota North Stars and Jets, but his final two pro seasons were spent in the Tampere, located about 180 kilometres north of Helsinki.
During the ’85-86 campaign, Douglas scored 36 goals in 36 games, and 32 years later the organization gave him a wonderful thank you with a ceremony prior to Tampere’s game with the Lahti Pelicans.
Braden Holtby isn't just a Stanley Cup winner, the veteran Washington Capitals goaltender has other talents as well, as he demonstrated recently with his team on a road trip in British Columbia.
With a night off before their next game, Holtby went on stage and played a set while his teammates cheered him on.
Rock on, Braden.
Not to be outdone, Alex Ovechkin showed he isn't just a great marksman when it comes to shooting as puck.
Perhaps the NHL needs to explore a future variety show where players can showcase their non-hockey skills.
We're nominating Dougie Hamilton for the dance-off, naturally.
This video belongs in a museum pic.twitter.com/wHfRW38xmz— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) October 27, 2018
We'd also pay good money to watch a show in which Marc-Andre Fleury goes around pranking everyone. The Vegas netminder is part of a funny new commercial in which he goes "undercover" as Sidney Crosby.
The concept is pretty clever as part of a promotion for a new hockey stick.
This isn't the first time Fleury has taken aim at his former club.
Through the long and storied history of the Winnipeg Jets pro hockey team, several players are known instantly by just a first name or nickname.
Ab, Ulf and Anders, Teemu, Ducky and Teppo, to be sure.
Luke is definitely another. Morris Lukowich scored 65 goals his first season with the Jets in the final season of the World Hockey Association (1978-79) and then played parts of six more (79-85) when the organization slid under the umbrella of the NHL. During those years in the NHL, Luke scored 168 goals with the Winnipeg Jets.
Heading into Thursday’s contest against the Florida Panthers in Helsinki, current Jets captain Blake Wheeler needed just one more tally to tie him for fifth on the list all-time Jets goal-scoring list. That’s a list of Winnipeg-based pros only. Sorry Ilya Kovalchuk and Shane Doan.
And thanks to legendary sportscaster Joe Pascucci for giving us this blast from the past. Keep ‘em coming, old friend.
Captain Blake Wheeler’s next goal will tie him with Morris Lukowich for 5th on the all-time goals scored list for Winnipeg Jets. Lukowich scored his last Jets goal #168 on December 30/1984 v Boston. In February the Jets would trade Lukowich to the Boston Bruins for Jim Nill pic.twitter.com/NuuWkNzWGR— Joe Pascucci (@Pascucci015) October 27, 2018
She took her lumps going to watch the Jets practice in Finland this week. But Kiia Huttunen came away with a great story, along with a souvenir, courtesy of Brendan Lemieux.
Went to see @NHLJets and Florida Panthers practice for #NHLGlobalSeries today. Got a puck in the head from @blemieux22 but received an apology and his stick – I guess I'm ready for tomorrow's game! pic.twitter.com/IOriR3b20w— Kiia Huttunen (@kiiahuttunen) October 31, 2018
John Tortorella is hit-and-miss. Either he's chewing your ear off and giving you plenty of stellar soundbites, or he's in not much of a mood to talk and giving you this.
Pity the poor beat writers who had to try and salvage something quotable out of this blink and you'll miss it press conference.
We're big fans of the boys over at Illegal Curve Radio and always enjoy our on-air appearances with the hosts. And we absolutely loved this video posted by Drew Mindell, taking folks on a great trip down memory lane of one of his earliest — and no doubt coolest — hockey memories.
30 years ago tonight, October 28, 1988. #NHLJets v. #LAKings at the Winnipeg Arena.— Drew Mindell (@ICdrew) October 28, 2018
The Community Club Showdown.
Wayne Gretzky's first game back in Winnipeg since the trade.
I couldn't skate. pic.twitter.com/8CxwyOEGWQ
And while he may not have lit the lamp, or even hit the net, we've always found Drew to be a real straight-shooter!
We're all about heartwarming stories around here, and the hockey world gave up plenty of great tales this past week.
Here's a few of our favourites:
First up is a great one about legendary defenceman Paul Coffey and a great gesture for a family of one of the Humboldt victims.
I have to share a story about Paul Coffey and what a great man he is (because he is too humble to ever share this himself).— Cam Connor (@CamConnorNHL) October 27, 2018
At the Humboldt jersey event I attended last night, there was an auction to raise money for scholarships named in honour of the Humboldt players. 1/4
Then there is Alex Ovechkin, who repeatedly shows what a big difference a small gesture can make.
Hockey is the best. �� pic.twitter.com/EK0cNTfa4v— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) October 27, 2018
Alex Ovechkin is an absolute legend for this. �� pic.twitter.com/J3tzbsxIT1— Yoni (@OriginalYoni) October 28, 2018
Then came this beautiful video, sent Mike's way, about a special relationship between a girl and her father and their mutual love of the Jets.
Finally came news that Upper Deck was releasing a special hockey card featuring Jets superfan Len "Kroppy" Kopioski as part of their series honouring military veterans.
It's enough to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy and just wanting to reach out and hug someone.
Got a suggestion for a future edition of Dump & Chase? Let us know about it.
And: follow "Dump" and "Chase" — a.k.a. Mike and Jason — on Twitter.
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