After a busy week, I was just beat by Friday night. Have been working like a mad-man to get our new focus of the hockey schools up and running, Bringing Smart Play to Hockey, and all that that entails, making the transition from pro player to pro coach, more to come on both of these, and having my daughter, Emma sick and both kids at home all day, runny noses and the whole deal with that. Time management has been a huge issue this week.
So, I finally took a break from the computer which is where I have been living, much to the chagrin of my wife, the last 2 weeks pretty much straight to actually watch the IIHF, Finland-Russia, semi-final game. The game progressed the first 25 mins without a goal or a penalty and then their was a goal. Oh man what a goal! 19-year old Mikael Granlund of Finland, well words can’t describe the goal! You have to see it to truly grasp how special a play it is. http://youtu.be/DlF6UvGEUKQ (Note to self: learn how to embed video in blog) He is just so fluid in his movement, what skill! The goalie didn’t have a chance.
This is a player I have been following for about 4 years now since I first heard of this special player from the northern city of Oulu, Finland. I was playing and coaching in Helsinki and did some work for the Finnish Ice Hockey Association and was tipped off about a special talent that was being hyped as the best player to come along since Teemu Selanne. So, I asked around and found a clip of him on youtube http://youtu.be/Q2w5Q6yKk04 I could see right away he was special. He is actually more of a set-up man than a scorer, but there was no denying he was a creative, special player at that point only 15 years old.
He was amazing for HIFK in the SM-Liiga Playoffs helping to co-lead the league in Playoff scoring and also to the Playoff Championship so I was excited to see him compete and succeed at the World Championships. I had no idea he would excel like he has in leading Finland to a berth in the Gold Medal game vs. Finland’s biggest rival and co-host of next year’s tournament, Sweden.
I went to sleep with visions of his goal dancing though my head.
Emma was up early, 5 am early and when she wakes, she lets the world know even when she is in perfect health.
Well, with the time difference to the west coast of Canada being 9 hrs, a good time to try to reach a friend I have been trying to catch up with for a couple of weeks. I was so excited to talk about Granlund’s goal and other things. I am in luck, he is home and we have a good connection! Then he drops his bomb on me, have you heard? New York Rangers, Fwd, Derek Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment. He was only 28!
Boogaard was not known for his on-ice puck skills, he was a monster of a man, 6’7″ tall and one of if not the toughest of the tough guys in the NHL. He only scored 1 goal in the previous 5 NHL seasons. But like most tough guys he was soft as melted butter off the ice. Would do anything to help others especially children. I personally didn’t know the man but the hockey world is small and a recent teammate of mine played Jr. in Prince George, BC on the same line with him. “I used to pick up his gloves.” One of Boogaard’s best friends, goaltender Niklas Backstrom, became a star playing for Oulu-Karpat the same team that Granlund, played his Jr. hockey for. He and the “Boogyman” sat next to each other for 4 season as teammates in Minnesota. They were famous for ribbing each other and as I was looking on-line for more info on what happened I stumbled across a great quote from Backstrom on Boogaard breaking his 5 year scoring slump. “It must have been an end to end rush with him deaking to the back hand and roofing it.” Of course he was poking fun at his friend, but that was the first smile I had today when reading about this tragic event. I have been on the edge of tears today many times as I think about this and it has been bothering me all day. Boogaard missed most of this past season due to suffering a major concussion and I eagerly await the autopsy results to see if there is a connection.
After starting my day on a high, a dose of the realities of life brought me back down. Forever linked now in many ways, Mikael Granlund and Derek Boogaard, Friday May 13, 2011. RIP-“Boogyman”