Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Last and least

Egan's roped me into this on the promise of fame and fortune and possibly a couple of beers (something we've been promising each other for more than 6 months now, but we've never quite managed to be in the same pub at the same time), and in return I've promised to write as irregularly as possible.

Ice hockey didn't come easily to me. In my younger -- and let's be honest, not so younger -- days, I played loads of sports to a distinctly average standard, went regularly to speedway meetings, went irregularly to various other sporting events, but ice hockey never figured at all. In England, we lived nowhere near any of the professional teams, ice hockey of any standard was seldom on the box, so it's not surprising it never figured. In Finland, it's not easy to avoid it -- more so in the days before Canal+ got their mitts on the league's exclusive TV rights -- and in Oulu, nigh on impossible. I liked the speed and skill and physicality of the sport, but had to learn the ins and outs of what was going on via a language I barely understood. It took a while to stop calling icing long puck, this and other similar ineptitudes causing sniggering among my North American acquaintances, but eventually I got to the point of understanding the game. Or so I think.

My biases and prejudices among the SM Liiga clubs run like this. No surprises in that I support Kärpät (which translates into English as "The Stoats" or, if you want to take the piss, "The Weasels"), but also like Kerho, TPS and Lukko. I dislike HIFK and Ilves a bit, Jokerit, of course, a bit more, and Blues most of all. These are mostly for historical reasons, enabling me to care which way a televised match might go. For reasons not entirely unconnected with semi-final events of two seasons ago, I've taken a more dim view than previously of our friends in Pori. For the rest, something ranging from fairly neutral to sublime indifference.

Kärpät's league season starts tomorrow at Raksila against Blues. Defeat would not be pleasant. The team's largely stable from last year, notable absentees being Jari Viuhkola (NHL), Spede Pyörälä (Sweden), Viktor Ujcik (dunno) and Ross Lupaschuk (Siberia). Mikko Lehtonen's back after a year across the pond, oh and go on then, we've signed Jere Karalahti. Difficult to take in at first, I really wish we hadn't, but now he's in our colours I'll support him the same as the others. Let's hope "until he buggers things up" isn't needed.


yvresgyros said...

Ujcik has gone back home to HC Vitkovice of the Czech Extraliiga.
Missed mama's goulash, one would guess. But these things are pretty understandable when you reach 35, to get back to a country where you speak the language and maybe try to squeeze into some post career activity before your window of opportunity has shrunk too much.
Welcome here my friend, by the way, we shall unite in a common hatred of the Espoo squad!

muuk said...

Thanks for the welcome, thanks for the griff about Ujcik (I thought he might even have retired) and thanks also for overlooking my comments about Ilves. Someone really does need to do something about that poor cat on your shirts though.

Aapo said...

Strange. Myself I've always found the lynx logo the best of the league. They changed it some ten years ago to a visibly poofier version, but brought the old, angry cat back maybe two seasons ago.

If you ask me, the worst logo out there is that of Lukko. The name of the team means lock and the old, traditional and identifiable logo of the team had a lock in it - until they swapped it to How rootless.

That said, the former Jyp crest ('Jyp Hockey Team - Non-Smoking Team') has been by far the silliest I've ever seen. But that was before we came up with a hurricane and started to play the Scorpions' Rock You Like a Hurricane as our theme song.

muuk said...

It looks to me like the taxidermist got to the poor beast before it made it onto the shirt, but that's just my slant on things.

You're right about Lukko's logo though. I've always assumed that the mutation to a fox was somehow related to being sponsored by the nuclear industry.