Good evening from Helsinki, where it's currently 9:44 p.m. when I begin this blog. The trip to Finland started about exactly the way the Wild's preseason has gone -- the engine broke on the plane. But after a 90-minute delay or so, off we went for a very smooth, 8 1/2-hour flight. I don't even remember a patch of turbulence.
It was a long flight. Three players that will remain nameless slept in the aisles, and the flight attendants basically spent all flight navigating around them.
It was a real fun trip, too. Honestly, I can't even convey to you how much joy I got from watching Wild PR guy Ryan Stanzel hit his head on the overhead TV in the aisle 17 times. You'd think after the 16th time you'd remember the TV was there, but apparently not.
Another funny moment came when I noticed on the virtual map that we were about to fly over Turku. I yelled for Mikko, who's of course from there, and he began exaggeratedly walking down the aisle telling teammates, "Enjoy, guys. Enjoy. Enjoy."
Here's a little video I sent in that was edited together by Shari Gross. Future videos I'll do a better job narrating -- well, not better. I'll just start narrating. For those who follow me on Twitter know that PIerre-Marc Bouchard loves to make fun of my typing. The video starts with him telling me that he'll stop making fun of me if I turn the camera off. The two players I'm following to the plane are Brent Burns and Greg Zanon. Like I said, I'll narrate future videos on this trip.
First of all, before we continue, hope you got a chance to give today's Mikko Koivu feature a read. Here's the link, but buy the paper because the men and women in the office did a great job with the display. I've written countless profiles on the Wild captain, three where I've gotten him out of the rink for one-on-one interviews. This was by far my favorite, mostly because for an hour, we barely talked hockey. We just talked Finland, and hopefully his personality came across in the story.
Also, for your information, and it may come in handy when you watch the games Thursday and Friday vs. Carolina, here's some hockey terms in Finnish.
When we arrived in Helsinki, this was waiting for us:
Honestly, is there anything more obnoxious than the media?
Funny line before we continue: Tom Reid goes to me, "Did you see that, 'Welcome Bob Kurtz' sign? Yeah, he sent it over yesterday."
The Finnish media contingent was waiting for the three Wild Finns, Antti Miettinen, Niklas Backstrom and of course, Mikko Koivu. The three players, as well as coach Todd Richards and GM Chuck Fletcher, held a news conference in the airport while the team cleared customs and left for the hotel. Some funny things happened, like Richards completely not understanding one of the Finnish reporters and the Finnish reporter completely not understanding the Wild coach, yet somehow they communicated -- rather poorly, but it made for some good comedy.
A lot of other funny things, but I think I should throw those in the article, which incidentally, I should probably begin writing.
To get the blood flowing, the Wild, in their black track suits, took a casual walk around Helsinki, especially the gorgeous 3-mile lake across from our hotel. You can see them leaving on that video.
No practice today, frankly because the gear's frozen. Because the Wild played an exhibition game last night, all the gear is packed soaking wet like a road game. Well, when you're in the cargo bin at 39,000 feet when it's about negative-80 degrees Fahrenheit outside for nine hours, water tends to freeze. Yes, I went to middle school.
So, it's at the practice rink at Hartwall Areena right now thawing out for a 10:30 a.m. practice tomorrow. That's 2:30 a.m. CT, so I expect you all to wake up and read my live updates on Twitter.
Guess what? Tomorrow I'll also be catching a hockey game played by some dude named Mikael Granlund right across the street from my hotel at Sports Hall. Yep, IFK Helsinki. A few hours before that, I'll be scouting Granlund's younger brother in a junior game. The younger Granlund, I believe, is draft eligible in 2011 at the NHL draft in St. Paul.
OK, time to write.