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Puckarinen Hits A Post

The times they’ve a-changed

I remember driving past my Dad’s appliance store in the 1970s and seeing crowds of people gathered outside, watching the World Championship games on one of the sets Dad had left on for that purpose. It’s pretty cold in Finland in the spring, and back in the 1970s, the World Championship was played in early April. But what’s a couple of hours outside when you can spend it with your buddies or future-buddies watching hockey?

It used to be that Finnish kids grew up dreaming about playing for their country, and maybe winning medals at the World Championships and the Olympics. I still don’t know when it changed. Now we all know - and accept the fact - that winning the Stanley Cup is everybody’s dream.

(I wonder if kids see themselves in full playoff beards when they dream the dream).

In Finland, it was probably Teemu Selänne who began to bring up the Stanley Cup in his interviews. It could have been Esa Tikkanen, too, but either way, at some point in the 1990s, the conversation took a new direction, and the Stanley Cup became the career goal for all aspiring hockey players.

Of course I understand it. It’s the biggest prize in hockey. It’s legendary. I’m not sure if I truly feel it, but that’s just because I grew up watching the Worlds.

However, now the whole world watches the Stanley Cup Finals, and if you happen to be Teemu Selänne, thousands of people will come and see you hoist the Cup in your hometown the summer you’ve won it. We all get it now.

We don’t have to stand outside any stores anymore because we all have cable, or I should probably say “cable” because, I, for instance, have all my hockey packages online only. Whether I watch Swedish Elitserien or Finnish SM-liiga or the NHL, I always watch it on my laptop, and more often than not, alone. (The rest of my family famously cheers for the officials should they ever watch a game with me.)

The world has changed, and the hockey world has changed with it, and around it. We no longer turn off the sound on the TV and listen to the play-by-play from the radio because we have so many other options now.

We still get together to watch the games, even if we don’t always get together in the same place at the same time. Nothing beats watching a game together with buddies. Ten years ago, I used to text my friends during the games, and that was how we’d make those funny comments we all think we make. These days, even if we sit at home, or at a cottage - like I did a few weeks ago - we can chat about the game with our new hockey buddies all over the world, thanks to, for example, Twitter.

There will always be somebody else watching the same game, cheering for the same team, or wondering about the same thing you just saw – whether you’re sitting in Toronto or Los Angeles, or in the quiet darkness of the night in Sweden, or Finland, or Russia.

All eyes on the big prize.

Risto Pakarinen is a Finnish freelance writer who wrote this sitting all alone in his little office in Sweden. You can talk hockey with him if you follow him on Twitter where he calls himself @Puckarinen.

Filed in: | Puckarinen Hits A Post | Permalink
  Tags: stanley+cup, time+travel, worlds

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About Puckarinen Hits A Post

Risto Pakarinen is a Finnish freelance writer, based in Stockholm, Sweden.

That's right, he's deep behind the enemy lines. He's also a regular contributor to IIHF.com, NHL.com, The Hockey News, and several publications in Finland and Sweden. He's also covered four World Championships and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics for the IIHF.

And since he foolishly hoisted the Stanley Cup in his twenties, he wakes up every morning knowing he will never be able to win it.