Some sad news emanating from Varkaus is that the Eagles’ management have made a decision to cease operations. This must be considered unofficial at the moment since the only source of information is this rather vague announcement on a fans’ web site linked from the front page of the Eagles’ own site. Requests for more information from both Keith McAdams and Eagles management have yet to be replied to.
According to the announcement, the decision to quit was caused by the financial mess the club is in. How it got into that mess is a matter of speculation with the various parties apparently blaming each other, and a number of accusations relating to the financing, none of which can be verified at the moment, being levelled at McAdams. If the stories reaching here from across the pond can be believed, this would not be the first time he has been the recipient of such comments.
All of which leaves a small group of young men in Varkaus with an uncertain immediate future. A once promising ice hockey team is fast disappearing down the pan. A hopelessly under-strength squad nevertheless carved out two victories (the first in extra time) in their first two games of the season. Last weekend the chaos off the ice spread onto the ice, hardly surprisingly, and the Eagles took successive hammerings on the Saturday and Sunday. Whether the Eagles will fulfill any more fixtures is not yet known.
Thursday 2nd October 2008 will long be remembered as one of Helsinki’s greatest sporting days. In the decades to come, grey haired old men and women will sit their grandchildren on their knee and recount with warmth the events of this blustery cold day, for this is the day that an ice hockey team represented by a furry, water-loving animal, flew from afar to our capital city. Yes they talk a strange language, but this is a team packed with stars, with household names that trip over the tongue, and they’ve come to show their silky skills to Helsinki’s finest. There’s talk of making this a more regular fixture, but for the moment this one match is all we have to savour. Yes folks, it’s HIFK versus Kärpät, that clash of the titans. Sadly, Nelonen have made a navigational error and taken their cameras to Jaffa where there’s some kind of sideshow going on.
Jokerit 1-4 Penguins (0-2)(0-0)(1-2)
Well, the TV’s a bit different: the clock counts down instead of up, there’s a hell of a lot of commercials and even the pyjama men no longer look like they’re on their way to fetch a milky drink. What is the world coming to? Answer: some money-spinning exercise. An exhibition match by billing, and an exhibition match was what we got. Jokerit had their moments, but for elongated periods were completely outclassed by a Penguins team that frequently didn’t need to sweat too much. Faster in thought and deed, and better organised and more skillful, they gave the impression they could have ratcheted up a far bigger victory had they really put their minds to it. Two goals in the first period for the visitors through Malkin’s not quite hit right shot from the blue line which Riksman nevertheless completely lost, and then at the death of the period via Fedotenko’s close range shot, taken quickly and efficiently while three defenders stood around inefficiently, admiring his handiwork. Lahti pulled one back in the third with a penalty shot and then, shortly afterwards, rattled the pipework, but Kennedy and Dupuis then gave the scoreboard a more realistic look.
So what did we get out of it? Well, for the doubters there was confirmation of the gulf in class between the NHL and Europe, for the Penguins a final shake down before things start in earnest which they doubtless put to good use, for the unwashed the chance to see a top flight game (albeit minus a large slice of commitment) without having to pay, and for Jokerit?