Welcome to the Vancouver Canucks! I will not lie to you I wanted your fellow Finns Laine or Puljujärvi before you but you are here now so they have now become the enemy. These last few days have been a whirlwind for you I’m sure so I will skip over the usual things that you have no doubt heard a million times already. Instead I come to you as a die hard fan – to share some hopes, thoughts and history on you, for I love this team and have stood bythem through down years, through mediocrity and through heartbreak. This team means a lot to me and through you (and the growing nucleus of youth coming through the system), I leave the burden of one of my greatest dreams – To see the Vancouver Canucks win a Stanley Cup.
While that may seem unfair especially since you have not yet even reached the age of 20. You must understand that as the franchise’s highest draft pick since the Sedin Twins (whom you will soon learn are royalty) and the first defence man chosen in the first round since the late Luc Bourdon (RIP) you carry with you the weight of expectation. Fear not though joining you in the youth movement are the likes of Jake Virtanen, Bo Horvat and Thatcher Demko will be there to help carry the load as together you represent the future of this team.
As a team, we have come close to winning the cup 3 times – in 1982, 1994 and most recently 2011. That one is probably the one you remember, but if you don’t here’s a recap: The team fought tooth and nail and gave their hearts out, came 60 minutes away from finally reaching salvation before having it snatched away at the last second – like Charlie Brown just as he is about to kick the football or perhaps to provide a more native reference – like if Little My were to take something away from Moomin at the last second (for the record my favourite character is Snufkin). Five years removed from that night, it still hurts whenever I think about it. At least we will always have slaying the dragon (see below for context – I still watch this whenever I need a boost in energy)
Needless to say the fanbase is waiting on bated breath for this young core to bring as the Stanley Cup which as we are constantly reminded by fans in other Canadian markets we have none. While it may not seem like it at times because this fanbase can get quite irrational, most of us understand that this is a process that will hopefully bring great results down the line. That being said, I’m sorry to say that you will be scrutinized for every little mistake you make, whether its a missed assignment, bad turnover or poorly executed break out play, you will hear about it – the important thing is to let it get to you or let it become a habit or else you run the risk of becoming the team scapegoat joining the likes of Mason Raymond, Keith Ballard, Aaron Rome, Brent Sopel and more recently Linden Vey or Alex Edler. Just keep your head down, learn and you’ll be fine.
Historically you’ll find that we have not have many Finns on our roster though you may find the recently acquired Granlund to be of help with regards to any language issues (though I know most Finnish people have a fair grasp on the English language). Prior to you, the most notable Finn to play for us would be Sami Salo (Though I’m sure Dave Nonis would surely say Tommi Santala whom he once declared – the best 4th liner in the NHL) or Jykri Lumme . Sami if your unfamiliar had a rocket of a shot becoming a fan favourite in the process but was unfortunately made of glass and spent more time injured than on the ice (Perhaps you’ve seen the clip below though) . Lumme on the other hand is ranked highly in our history books as one of the best defensemen this team has seen.
We are more well known for the plethora of Swedish talent that has graced our history including the two aforementioned Sedin Brothers who will exit holding nearly every record in this franchise’s record books as well as Thomas Gradin, Mats Sundin (very briefly and for a boatload of money) and the holy grail himself Markus Naslund (my personal favourite Canuck of all time). Though you are all Scandinavian I realize that it is an error to suggest that Finns and Swedes are remotely the same as I know each side will argue extensively over who is better. From which one side will enviably bring up IKEA to which the other side will bring up Nokia or Angry Birds. I will remove myself from choosing a side as that is not the point here but I do hope that you, Olli can leave a lasting legacy with this team.
My expectations for you are reserved. I would be ecstatic if you could leave an impact like Mattias Ohlund did during his time here (who incidentally will be honoured on December 16th for his efforts). Reliable with a slight edge and capable of putting up points from the defence man slot. Obviously if you could take it even further and become the Finnish version of Nicklas Lidstrom, I would cry tears of joy.
You have a tough task ahead of you, As presumably a big part of the defence for years to come you will be tasked with stopping the likes of Connor McDavid and your former teammate whom you will now be forever compared to – Matthew Tkachuk. Please make us proud and show everyone that it was the right choice selecting you one spot above him ( tip: a big hit goes a long way in endearing yourself to the fans…just ask Jake)
Now for some rapid fire tips as I let you return to training for the upcoming season
- Canucks fans are not all rioters or idiots who destroy cities – These are a select few people who probably weren’t real fans of the team
- Learn everything you can from the Sedins. They won’t be here much longer as retirement awaits but they are class acts and truly great players despite what some opposing fanbases have to say
- We hate the Bruins, Hawks and basically everyone in the Pacific division in that order. Mark these games on your calendar.
- Everyone will mispronounce your name especially those hack analysts from the east coast who only watch Canucks games once a month. Thankfully I have consulted experts and have mastered it (I think…)
- I will not speak for any other fan but I have stood by this team through the good, the bad and the ugly so as long as you wear that jersey across your chest you will have my full support. Loyalty Forever. As I do for my friends and family. I love this team and will be there through it all.
I wish you the best of luck, may this letter serve as the compass that guides you through the forest that is Vancouver Canucks hockey (an activity that if I understand correctly you participated in as a child). May you become the best defenseman in the league, win a few Norris trophies and spend the rest of your career as a Vancouver Canuck. But most importantly: May you continue your streak of winning and one day lift the Stanley Cup, not only for yourself, not only for this team but for the entire province of British Columbia, the lower mainland and Canucks fans around the world like me who can then finally die in peace.