February 2, 2009
Overseas game de-Fin-ite?
By RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA
That Miikka Kiprusoff, so cool and so nonchalant.
The possibility of he and the Calgary Flames starting next season with a pair of games in his home country of Finland was brought up to the goalie and he shrugged it off.
"I don't really want to comment unless it's going to happen," he said after yesterday's practice.
"We don't know for sure, yet."
OK, but if it happened, would you like it?
"I don't really care," he shrugged.
"But if it happened, it would be huge for Finnish hockey, for sure, to get a NHL game there."
The hot rumour, not confirmed yet by the club nor the NHL, is the Flames and San Jose Sharks would start the 2009-10 season with a pair of games in Helskinki. Kiprusoff, who is from Turku, would naturally be a headline attraction, which he apparently doesn't think all that much of.
Or does he?
"Guess who brought that up to me this morning in the locker-room? Miikka did," left winger Michael Cammalleri said. "I guess he's right on that beat."
According to reports, the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues would play in Stockholm, Sweden, while the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers would meet in Prague, Czech Republic. Curiously, the Flames and Sharks kicked off the 1998-99 regular season with games in Japan. Calgary also had a tour of Russia during the exhibition season after winning the 1989 Stanley Cup.
The past couple of seasons have seen a handful of clubs play in Europe -- the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning meeting in Prague, while the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins faced off in Stockholm and the 2007-08 campaign kicked off with the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings in London, England.
Cammalleri was part of the Kings squad to visit Big Ben and the Windsor Castle.
"It was a good experience," Cammalleri said. "If we do it, we've got to really take into account the travel and the rest and the practice time. They had us doing a lot of things in London and it was really busy, so we didn't have much downtime to rest, so it was pretty exhausting.
"That would be the one thing I'd recommend. If we were to do it, I'm sure we'd do a great job of studying how to get our rest, because we were a little tired.
"It seemed like we never got to see our hotel rooms. As hockey players, we're used to our naps and our downtime -- I know I sound like a baby right now -- and it's imperative for us to perform at our top levels, that rest."
Still, Cammalleri wanted to make sure he pointed out it was a good time.
"The fans were great and playing in Europe is exciting," he said. "I think it's a positive thing the league."
Finland is yet to host a NHL game.
"It's a pretty nice place. It's the Baltic Sea there, lots of lakes. It's a nice country," Kiprusoff said.
But, would his teammates enjoy visiting his country?
"Probably not," he said in jest. "Probably a few guys have been there already for world championships or world juniors. They'd probably like it."
By the way, he was more positive the media would enjoy it.
"For sure, You like to go to bars, eh?"