My eyes are bleeding this morning. Perhaps Marko Anttila has read my previous posts and now is out on a rampage of vengeance and rabid goal scoring. I open the recap of yesterday's game against TPS and here it is, the ice breaker AND the game winner, both scored by the same man who's body frame could only have been reconstituted by a mad scientist going through the leftovers from Lempäälä's dissection facilities.
Ok, when you look at the highlights, you find out that his first goal wasn't meant to be a shot at all, but was an interrupted pass that he may or may not have batted through the goalie subsequently. The second though was a different animal. In all his slow-motion splendour, Anttila went on undisturbed by Petri Koskinen's vain attempt to move the colossus off his course. Then a precise wrist shot got the puck were it wanted to be. Kuddos on that one, finally using the size given to him by his Creator to bulldoze through opponent's defences. Here you can get a longer view of the move Anttila used on Koskinen.
That same size got Anttila to be chosen straight out of the Fourth tier league back in the 2004 draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. He was a long shot by all means, like most 9th round picks would be. By the following year, the NHL had shortened its draft to 7 rounds, presumably to avoid giving false hopes of World Recognition to the good folks of Lempäälä, but too late, the damage was done. All in all though, if an average of 5 points a year with never more than 46 penalty minutes per season for a 6 foot 7 anomaly of nature gets Anttila an invite to next year's training camp at the United Center, I buy the next round for all of our readers!
Funny enough, Montréal's long shot that year was to pick the Captain of Team Switzerland, defenceman Mark Streit, only two ranks after Chicago's selection. Streit is groomed to take the place of Sheldon Souray on the Power Play this year (yeah, good luck with that, but still...) and won the Jacques-Beauchamp trophy last year, an internal club honour for a player that has played a determining role in the success of the team without withdrawing any particular recognition for it. The year previous, they drafted Jaroslav Halak in the 9th. It goes to show that you can get lucky with these far-fetched selections sometimes, but odds are it just won't happen.
As a follow up on Yesterday's investigation of the missing HPK scorers from last year, I found out, leafing through IltaSanomat's NHL supplement that Mikko Mäenpää maybe was not lying face down on a bathroom floor on the outskirts of Hermia with long dead hopes to be discovered, but is instead headed to Colombus to pursue the American Dream! "The day they laid poor Pancho low, Mikko split for Ohio" like the song would say. Problem is I checked the Blue Jackets' website and of course the kid hasn't made the team, but furthermore, he is not on their In The System feature either. He is not listed as a member of their AHL affiliate the Syracuse Crunch, neither is he with their ECHL affiliate, the Dayton Bombers. News of his signing can be found through superficial googling, but no news of the man and even more worrying, for his parents probably more than for a chance observer as I, is that he was not even on the training camp roster.
So what happened to Mikko Mäenpää between the 1st of June and now. If anyone has got any clues on his whereabouts, please contact Robert Stack of Unsolved Mysteries. Here you get the proper form. Or just write a comment at the bottom of this post, but I can't promise to be as efficient as Mister Stack or wear a raincoat with the same aplomb either.
On the subject of this article in Ilta Sanomat's NHL supplement, since it just came out and gives you the impression that each player is destined to play for the team that invited him to camp, let's put a couple things straight. (Although if we undertake the task of setting straight all the crap printed in Ilta Sanomat and other misinformation papers of the sort, we got a lifetime of work ahead of us, but let's give this a crack, shall we?)
The NHL season is officially started and camps have wrapped up. None of the players listed cracked the opening night's lineup, not even came close. Here's where they ended up:
Petri Kontiola (Chicago) : Assigned to Rockford Icehogs yesterday the 1st. He didn't fare too bad at all, being part of the last train to Winnebago County along with prized prospects Cam Barker and Jack Skille.
Janne Lahti (Montréal) : Went mainly unnoticed at training camp (only two articles on him in La Presse, this is nothing!), got assigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs on the 24th of September along with a bunch of no names (except for avid Montréal fans who prey upon the lives of these people.)
Sami Lepistö (Washington) : I bet he would be on the Hershey Bears if they would update their website, they have his name somewhere but the picture doesn't do justice to the boy.
Perttu Lindgren (Dallas) : Like announced in a previous post, Lindgren got retrograded to the AHL on the 27th of last month but I made a mistake back then, it is not to Utah he is going, but he rather is Iowa bound. Like Tom Petty said in the song Yer so Bad: "I Can't Decide which is Worse!"
Mikko Mäenpää (Colombus) : Ok, I'll break the thick suspense: here you go! (and not "here you are" like most Finnish waitresses seem to think is proper English phrasing.)
Janne Niskala (Nashville) : Seemed to fare quite ok and got the ticket on the 28th along with fellow Finn and high prized prospect Pekka Rinne to report in to the Admirals of Beer City.
Antti Pihlström (Nashville) : I found an interesting article on the Predators' site about Pihlström, Rinne, Teemu Laakso, Ville Koistinen, Oliver Setzinger (a HPK/Pelicans/Ilves alumni) and a few others about crossing the Atlantic to take on the North American Challenge. But for the matter at hand, Pihlström's challenge will have to get through Milwaukee as well.
Tuukka Rask (Boston) : Ilves' Pride was sent on the 25th to Providence, in order to be groomed as the heir of Fernandez between the pipes. Here's a nice article written three days prior to his exit. He played half of one preseason game, giving up 2 goals in 29 minutes.
Juuso Riksman (St.Louis) : On the same day, this other Finnish goalie in the list was assigned to Peoria, along the Illinois River.
Jari Viuhkola (New Jersey) : The Kärpät forward found his tickets for Massachussetts awaiting on the 28th of last month.