Note: Selänne posted his latest blog post in November so some of the things in regards to the NHL negotiations is a bit outdated but there are stuff too in the post.
(Published 9th of November, 2012)
Hi everyone! Greetings from the biggest aircraft carrier USS Nimitz! I still can’t understand how I got in to this trip. One of my best American friends called couple of months ago and asked, if I would be interested in to fly to aircraft carrier and to get to know the USS Nimitz war ship, I NHL season hasn’t started yet. Well, I didn’t have to think about the answer that long. So, last week we flew C2 war air plane from San Diego’s naval base to Nimitz. Landing to the aircraft ship was an amazing experience. The plane had no windows and sitting in the dark guessing when the cable will stop is was thrilling. Getting to know the work of the ship was very interesting. The biggest surprise was the size of the ship: 1,5 hectare ship, where 5000 people live. And the average is 21! It’s like small sailing town. Living at the aircraft ship is very ascetic; the whole focus is on working.
My appreciation for these people raised a lot. Some spend years there. Normal workday lasts 14-18 hours. There’s no luxury there, passageways are narrow, stairs up and down and everywhere, no phones, no Skype, rooms are small and the only toilets are in public use. And there’s not even alcohol there on the whole ship. This fellow wouldn’t be able to do that job. And I thought that the life of NHL player is tough. Not anymore. It was also awesome to stand on the deck and watch how the catapults shot the Hornets to the sky. The take-offs and landings were especially impressive at night. After a well slept night we saw couple of more operations, until it was our turn to experience the catapult start back to the continent. And wow, that was great! The brutal power of the plane getting to the air is unbelievable. A little bit over 100 metres in couple of seconds, and you’re sitting there arms crossed hoping everything goes well. I mean, there’s no room for mistakes there, or then I don’t anymore have to wonder when the NHL season might start…
So, that brings us to the other subject. The lockout! NHL’s lockout has soon lasted 60 days. It feels like the time has gone slowly, maybe that’s caused by the slower rhythm of my own lifestyle. But now there’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel. The previous negotiations have been positive and I believe that both parties know the importance of this month. The games for November have been already cancelled and the general concern for the cancellation of the whole season came to a subject when the NL announced to cancel the Winter Classic. Probably the whole hockey world is worried. We have to remember that here is USA hockey is smaller sport than for example baseball, American football and basketball. That’s why our game has to do so much more work to keep our fans and keep this sport in favour. This lockout likely won’t help.
During the past 20 years hockey has had more strikes and lockout than the other big sports combined. That’s a bad sign for all of us! Couple of days ago I read in horror this article about the development of the previous lockout (2004). Think that in NHL there are about 730 players. Of that amount, 240 players for various reasons never came back to NHL after that lost year. It’s a huge amount of players, including some of the great legends such as Mark Messier, Adam oates, Ron Francis, Al MacInnis, Igor Larionov, Scott Stevens, Vinnie Damhousse… Some retires, some lost their job and some went to play somewhere else. Sad, shocking. Like I have said earlier, there are no real winners in this dispute. But now the possibilities for new agreement are better than before.
While waiting for that, we keep practising here on the ice and preparing for the new season. 4 times a week we practice on ice. Sometimes there are 12 dudes; at times it has been only Saku and I. It has been interesting to go back to the routines of junior years: you pay your own ice time, get your own stuff to the arena and back home, dry the clothes at home etc.. I didn’t know my jersey smells like sweat. Hah! I have to say that I’ve been missing the staff. Sometimes you don’t realise how important the equipment managers are for the players. Simple irreplaceable! It’s like a mother in the family. They do so much work for everyone else to have it good. Usually NHL teams have 2 full-time equipment managers and one who stays at home. They go the arena early in the morning, make coffee, clean the place, sharpen the skates, and fix pieces of equipment, order sticks and skates… After the practise they do the laundry, clean the room again and go home late. There’s even more work when we’re on the road. After the games we fly to new city. At 3 am when the players go to sleep to the 5 stars hotel, the staff goes to take the equipment to the arena. And there’s again laundry and stuff, and after couple of hours of sleep they go back to the arena to make sure that everything is perfect before the players arrive. Fe people understand how much stuff one team needs. It’s not just 30 hockey bags, but for example for a 5 game tourney there will be 300 hockey sticks! So even though this is tough, we are being taken care of really well. Every player knows the importance of the equipment managers and the appreciation toward them is enormous!
This was all for now, I’m interested to see what the next week brings along. I believe that next week is the time for good news! Until then, ciao!
P.S. Finnish national team got a new head coach today, congrats to Erkka (Westerlund). Excellent choice! Every team, that has been coached by Erkka has also had success. Erkka is a gentleman, who doesn’t shout, and instead takes care of his job by talking, using smartness and authority. Good luck for the new challenge! And thanks to Jukka Jalonen (current head coach). Great coach, during whose era Finland has secured its place among the top nations, the 2011 World Championship being the crown. Well done!
"I fear the whole season is lost"
Teemu Selänne is one of the biggest names in the NHL during the past 20 years. He won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007 and was as late as last season the team’s leading scorer, at the age of 41. This could become his farewell season after 19 years in the NHL.
- There are days when I sit in the car driving to rink to practice with some of the other guys and wonder why I am doing this. What’s the point?
- But it’s about having a discipline and to be ready if the league comes back with a short notice. But it’s difficult to find motivation at the moment.
"They just don’t want to negotiate"
The otherwise always so happy Selänne looks concerned when we meet him after 2 hours long ice session in Orange County, south of Los Angeles.
- No one believed that the conflict would last so long. I’m surprised that we ended up in this situation, says the now 42-year old NHL veteran.
He is disappointed with teams and the NHL.
- Their way to treat us during the lockout upsets me. They don’t even want to negotiate, just make "take-it-or-leave-it" bids. That’s not the way to go. That’s not how to negotiate with a good will.
- It is this part, what makes me most disappointed about the way the owners behave toward us, says Selänne.
He claims there are no rifts among the players.
- We players stick together like a family.
"It’s not okay"
San Jose’s Swedish defenseman Douglas Murray participated to negotiations in New Jersey on Wednesday. He came back to California late on Thursday evening. He’s very disappointed that there was no progress made this week.
- It’s bloody awful, plain and simple.
Murray tries to be positive and believe in solution, but says that it gets harder and harder.
- I'm starting to lose words for the whole process, what is happening now is very unfortunate for the entire hockey.
"Dougie" has participated in the negotiations throughout the fall.
-I think it's a sad situation, it feels a bit unnecessary that we ended up where we are. We have given the owners the money they wanted, those extra seven per cent. It is very frustrating that it has not been enough. It's not okay what is going on, says Murray.
Vancouver star Henrik Sedin is concerned:
- It is entirely up to the owners now if we are to save the season. Time is running out.