The early race for the scoring title comes to underline the very limited choices that Finnish parents seem to have when comes time to name their newborn. (Ok, Québec isn't that much better, there used to be 3 Steve Tremblay in the same grade at my high school, so just friendly teasing, fellas) Sitting nicely at number one on this fine day is a player from a team Jääkiekkolehti deemed to have no player worth being included in this year's top 49 (and this was written before Hrdina and Majesky came around, although they might not count being on loan and all).
Jarkko Immonen, no not the comeback kid looking down at the rest of the league hanging strong at number 4 on the list, rather his homonym from the Lapperanta Underdogs. Both guys whose teams battle for the top spot of the league. What are the odds that these top two ranking teams retain their actual spot til the end of the calendar? Wouldn't bet my pocket gravel on it.
Jyväskylä's prodigal son, the J.I. claiming the 3th spot in the SM with an even 5 points, has had a rough year one would say. Of course, he gets showered with flowers and accolades from the home crowd, but looking back at last 1st of July, it must've been a heartbreaking moment for the young lad who thought he had a clear break to move in Nylander's skates in the Big Apple. Once touted as a hot prospect destined to anchor the Rangers' second line, Immonen spent two potent seasons trying to impress, alternatively during brief call-ups to the big club and with the farm club in the Insurance Capital of the World, Hartford. Boredom, grey suits, suicide rate, repressed guilt and tedious conversations come to mind. Could almost be Lahti. He did exceptionally well in the playoffs last year with 8 points in 7 games and you would have thought some reward would come out of this.
But that was without counting on irresponsibility coming back to the forefront of Bettman's New NHLtm. The salary cap got a steroid injection in an arse cheek, got up to a level where the playing field is not that level any longer and guess who started spending like there is no tomorrow again... Chris Drury and Scott Gomez are gonna be feeding Jagr and Straka and Shanahan and the lot. Nice one two punch down the middle, what a splash on the free market, something something, lots of shiny headlines but not that many talks about the one main victim of this double-signing: Immonen's bank account.
I am not an advocate of the get-rich-at-all-costs mentality and better to be a hero at home than to be a marginal role-player elsewhere, but still there is the argument of playing at the highest level instead of circling around traffic cones like Marko Anttila (damn I'm gonna get beat if I keep on doing this), be all you can be and make a few bucks by riding your God-given talent (or Vishnu or Allah or Jeannie of I Dream of Jeannie-given talent, I'm not picky) to a comfortable retirement. "Let's get it while the getting is good", like Hank Ballard & the Midnighters said in the wonderful early rock n roll classic "Work with me Annie"(you can hear the song there but forget about the vid), he also says "Annie, please don't cheat. Give me all my meat." but it would seem irrelevant to the matter at hand.
This is not for Jarkko, though. His NHL hopes hit a road block called Satheronomics, which I predict will exclude their star-studed/no chemistry club from the Series like it did for 7 straight seasons when the team boasted guys like Pavel Bure, FatHead Lindros, Fleury, Nedved, Kovalev, etc on a salary mass that could be seen with teary eyes from as far as Deadmonton on clear September evenings. He'll be riding high in Jyväskylä this year, but my humble guess is that looking right or left to a Helminen or another is not quite the same as being backed by sure fire Hall of Famers Shanny and the Jagrmaster.
Early scoring races are good fun to watch if anything at all. I remember keeping the Journal de Québec clipping of the ranked scorers of the league one year because after two playoff games Mike Keane was throning atop the Lemieux and Yzermans of the land. And that year where Saku stayed until early December at #1 before that awful knee injury took our hopes away and the Lemieux of this land claimed his rightful place.
On the Tappara front: win number one of the season came off of who's gun? Oooh Yeah, with ten seconds to go in the third, the shining beacon of French Canadianness in Pirkanmaa (shining not only because of the hairdo) blasted his second killer shot past Vehanen, evening up the score to push the game in overtime where it took them all of 8 seconds to put this one in their back pocket. You can see the highlights here. Vas-y André, ca ne fait que commencer!