“Tell your whole team I love them,” U.S. President Jimmy Carter commanded Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, when he got him on the phone in the moments following the Americans’ 4-2 gold-medal victory over Finland on this date, a Sunday, in 1980. It was the game two days earlier, of course, that everyone remembers, the one where Eruzione, goaltender Jim Craig (above, celebrating gold), and all their star-spangled teammates overthrew the mighty Soviet Union. Mostly they forget that the U.S. team still had plenty of work to do against the Finns. Under the complicated medal-round formula, an American loss combined with a Swedish win over the Soviets could have left the U.S. in fourth place. As it was, goals from Phil Verchota, Steve Christoff, Rob McClanahan, and Mark Johnson sealed the U.S. win, while the Soviets crushed Sweden 9-2. “Outside the arena an exultant throng counted down the final seconds,” Gerald Eskenazi reported for The New York Times, “then started to cheer as a Dixieland band began to play. When the doors of the field house opened, the crowd of 10,000 (including 1,500 standees) streamed into the Olympic Center driveway with chants of ‘U.S.A’ and ‘We’re Number One.’”
Twenty-six pucks failed to get by Pekka Rinne last night, though of course — probably — likely — what I really mean is that it was one single puck, possibly a couple, or three, that didn’t succeed, 26 times. Not that Rinne doesn’t deserve credit for his preventative part in Nashville’s big 2-0 home win over the Dallas Stars, just saying the puck(s) need to be bearing some of the responsibility here, too. It was, in any case, the seventh instance this season of complete puck futility involving Rinne, the best goaltender ever to have come out of Kempele, which is near Oulu, in Northern Ostrobothnia, in Finland. His record in the last 19 games he’s played is 17-1-1. When Adam Vingan of The Tennessean talked to Rinne post-game, the goaltender reached into the post-game loot-bag of triumphant clichés and extracted this one: “A lot of good things are happening to us right now, so we’ve just got to enjoy it right now.”
The portrait here, from the 2017 playoffs, is Toronto illustrator Dave Murray’s. For more of his work, visit at www.davemurrayillustration.com.
Teemu isn’t published in Finland until tomorrow, and Ari Mennander’s biography of the legendary Selanne won’t be out in English until some time in 2015. That doesn’t mean there isn’t news today to fill Helsinki newspapers and the Twittershire alike, most of it regarding what the affable, accomplished and not-long retired Flash has to say about his coach in Anaheim, Bruce Boudreau. If you’re an elder and high-achieving Finnish right winger, Mennander is your go-to biographer, I guess: he is, at least, the man behind Jari Kurri 17 (2001), which you can get in English. A quick browse of those pages — in particular the ones devoted to Edmonton coach Glen Sather — suggest that it’s safe reading for all the family.
Not having seen (much less being able to understand) what Selanne has to say in the original Finnish, I’m not in no position to confirm that he “demolishes” or “blasts” Boudreau, who took over as coach of the Ducks in November of 2011. Those are typical of the verbs that are headlining North American reports about the book today, at Yahoo Sports’ Puck Daddy and the Los Angeles Times respectively. According to what Juha Hiitela (@jhiitela) has been (helpfully) translating and tweeting throughout the day, Selanne does mention that “there’s nothing wrong with my relationship with Boudreau. In fact, he’s a nice man.” But Hiitela, who writes for the Helsinki sports magazine Urheilusanomat, also notes that Selanne wasn’t always happy with his ice-time under the coach (“He didn’t keep his promises”). And: during the first intermission of Anaheim’s seventh-game loss to Los Angeles on May 16, Selanne sent out a text from the Ducks’ dressing room to his wife and a couple of friends, writing (in English): “fucking joke.”
Ari Mennander’s Teemu is available to order (in Finnish) here. If savouring a headline (multilingually) is all you need at this point, this is from the Helsinki tabloid Ilta-Sanomat today:
Phoenix captain Shane Doan was ill this week, had been, and continued to feel it. He had headaches and a temperature. Nobody knew why. “Out With Mystery Ailment,” USA Today headlined. Said a teammate, Paul Bissonnette:
“It’s hard to not picture him here. He’s a big body. He eats a lot of minutes. He plays hard minutes, too. He wears down D and gets to the net. Anytime you lose a guy like that, it’s kind of killing us a little bit.”
“No one will ever see me in downtown Vancouver ever again,” said Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins.
In Toronto, where Ken Dryden wrote this week about Mayor Rob Ford, who won’t go away, Tyler Bozek’s injury was oblique.
Also, the Leafs’ goalie, Jonathan Bernier, has something the matter with his lower body. “I woke up and it felt pretty bad,” he said. It? His coach, Randy Carlyle, said he was “nursing a minor ailment.”
Sorry: Bozek’s injury is, in fact, pretty straightforward: he has an oblique muscle strain.
Ron MacLean said that the big worry for Canada in Sochi is big ice. “It’s the sword of Damocles that hangs over the team,” he confided to Maclean’s, looking ahead to the year that’s coming. On concussions he said that when the rules changed in 2005-06 to weed out interference, the speed that the game gained was good for hockey-player heads. “The road to hell,” he told Jonathan Gatehouse, “is paved with good intentions.” He thinks that fighting will be gone in 10, 15 years. “We’re up against the science. It’s like cancer and cigarettes.”
Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe had reported on the start of Lucic’s weekend in British Columbia:
Lucic, a native of Vancouver, got the chance to see some family and friends Friday night with dinner at his grandmother’s house. “Don’t get to have that too often,” Lucic said. “It’s been 2½ years since we had a chance to play here, so it’s nice to be back.”
But then after Saturday’s game against the Canucks, at a bar, two different men punched him. That’s why he’s never going back downtown.
By the end of the week, doctors had figured out Shane Doan’s mystery. “It looks like some form of Rocky Mountain fever disease,” Coyotes GM Don Maloney said.
“Our medical team is on top of it. Every day he seems like he’s getting a little better and a little more energy and has started to exercise a little more. We’re encouraged. He’s trending in a positive manner and for us, it’s just going to take time.”
Bruce Cheadle from The Canadian Press reviewed the prime minister’s book this week, A Great Game. “Harper has said he worked on the book for about 15 minutes each day,” he wrote, “and it probably should be read the same way.” Continue reading
The New York Rangers eventually lost to Chicago in the Stanley Cup semi-finals in 1971, but they had some big wins along the way. One of them included a hattrick by centre Vic Hadfield, the first to be notched in the playoffs by a Ranger since Pentti Lund managed it. “I remember Lund,” Jean Ratelle said after the game, Hadfield’s linemate. “From the bubblegum cards I had as a kid.” Hadfield: not so much. “I never heard of Lund,” he said. “How long ago did he do it?”
It was the spring of 1950, in fact, which is worth recalling, with word today from Thunder Bay today that Lund has died at the age of 87. The second Finnish-born player to make a mark in the NHL, those who do remember him in New York know that he not only won the Calder Trophy as the league’s outstanding rookie in 1949, but Lund’s hattrick the following year almost — it was close — helped the Rangers win a Stanley Cup, too. Continue reading