So a couple of days ago, arctic_comet
commented about Granlund, and the amount of media attention the start of his NHL career has been getting here in Finland, and I started to answer it, and well, it got kind of long-ish. To the point that I just decided to make a post about it, because apparently this is something I have lot's to say about.
As a background, Russo, Wild's beat writer did a really good article about it for the Star Tribune: "Homeland has Wild rookie Granlund well-covered."
It's really good, and I strongly recommend reading it, but to those who prefer the clip-notes version: three tv-stations, two news papers and a dozen other various reporters - most of them, if not all, btw, really major news out-lets, as in, the biggest national tv-channels and so on - were present for the Wild's opening night. In comparison, there are Championship tournaments that get less coverage, to even talk about single games.
And the reason for them being there has nothing to do with Minnesota being somewhat of a hockey hot-bead, or even their Finnish captain or starter goalie. The only reason for them being there, and in such hordes even, is one rookie.
Then there's the case of Samuel Savolainen, a reporter for one of the biggest sports-magazines, who moved to Minnesota, just so he can cover Granlund (and supposedly the Wild in general, at the side) full-time. As far as I know, before now, there's been one hockey reporter, who lives in North-America full time, and he runs a weekly column covering the entire league.
So yes, the amount of media attention Granlund is getting is crazy. Now, you might make the argument, that part of it is just NHL growing in popularity and having a better profile on this side of the pond, and Granlund being the perfect poster child for that, and while true, I don't believe that's all there is to it. The argument about him being the biggest future star and the best prospect we've had in so many years, is also valid, but still falls somewhat flat in explaining the whole picture.
The thing with Granlund's career, from a media stand point, is that it makes for a great narrative. Starting with the David-Goliath angle, of him always playing against older and bigger players, and having to fight for his right to play in leagues meant for older kids to him scoring The Magical Goal, and in between overcoming the contract mess with his junior team (btw, raise your hands when you notice the parallels between Granlund's and Crosby's media narrative).
Now, with Granlund starting his NHL career, at least part of that narrative reaches it's climax. And it won't be complete unless one of two things happens. Either he lives up to every single expectation ever laid upon him, scores hundred points including the Stanley Cup winning over-time goal and wins the Hart, Conn Smythe and Calder trophies, or he is a bust who crashes and burns in just a couple games, gets sent back down to the AHL and in a few years returns home in disgrace.
And as horrible as that sounds, if you are member of the media, whose only intrest in the matter is the way you can sell papers, it doesn't matter which option is the reality. The headlines are there, no matter which way you go. Nor does it really matter if either one is the real truth, as long as it's somewhat close enough to it that you can make it true.
Or maybe this one time, media will listen, when told by virtually everyone in the Wild organization, from players to coaches to management, to have patience. Or then maybe not. Because if there's one thing Finnish media has shown in the last few years, is that they love nothing more, than the change to be tearing Granlund to pieces.
When his SM-Liiga team struggled last season, they made it sound like Granlund was to blame, because of his scoring slump. During the World Champions last spring he was pulled as a healthy scratch for one game, and that's the only thing anyone remembers about that game. Why? Because the next day, two of the biggest tabloids both had huge headline articles about it. Little trivial things like who won, or what the score of the game was, were hardly even mentioned.
As to what I said earlier about Granlund being first high end prospect Finland has had in a long time, the worst about that, is that it in a sense, he is very much alone in it. It's very much likely, that the trend of media attention on NHL and even more so, focusing a lot of that on rookies and young guys. Granlund, Teräväinen and Barkov are sure to sell more than Olli Jokinen, Leino or Lydman.
The difference with Teräväinen, Barkov and other Finnish prospect on the verge of breaking in to NHL is, that when they do that, it's so much more likely, that a lot of them will be doing it at least nearly at the same time. And so they'll each take some of the pressure of each others. Or to quote arctic_comet
:" If they want to give all these boys the same media attention as Mikke, they'll have to hire like 100 new writers." Well, it'd surely be one way to resolve our unemployment problems.