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Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 08:36 pm
Saw first tv ad for the upcoming season yesterday, yeah! I don't even know why, because with the pre-season having been in full swing for weeks now, it really shouldn't, but it didn't really hit home how soon the season is starting before that. Only like couple of weeks left.

So what better way to celebrate that, than another primer. Here's one on Mikko Koivu, the captain of Minnesota Wilds, and Mikael Granlund, their top prospect.

First off, this was supposed to be a short, quick look on who these two Minnesota Wild players are, and why are they shippy together. Which it still is, except for the short and quick part. But in any case, it's done now, so let's just get right to it, shall we?

As a disclaimer: All pictures were found using the google image search, and I don't own any of them. If you wish to be credited just let me know and it shall happen. The same goes for youtube videos.

This is Mikko Koivu

And off the ice

Born March 12, 1983, in Turku, Finland, Koivu is the first line center and captain of Minnesota Wild, who drafted him as sixth overall in 2001. Mikko is the son of a Finnish hockey coach Jukka Koivu and the younger brother of Saku Koivu, with whom he has nine year age-gap.

Not that they actually look like it.

Starting his professional hockey career as a seventeen year old in the Finnish Elite League, Mikko played four years with his hometown team TPS, before coming to to the North America in 2004. Because of the lockout Mikko spent the season playing for the Houston Aeros, Minnesota's AHL affiliate, before making the team the following season. Since then he has become integral part of the franchise, and in 2009 he was named as their first ever permanent captain.

On ice Mikko is often praised as one of the best, although highly underrated, two-way forwards in NHL today. He is also tremendously talented at shootouts. Although, because of Mikko's much larger size for one, he and his brother have very different playing styles, the two are often compared to each other, most of the time in favor of Saku. As one Finnish sports writer wrote in a column this spring; everything Mikko does, his big brother has done already. This has made Mikko highly competitive, both on and off the ice.

Anyways, have a highlight reel:

For the World Championships this spring Nike (one of the biggest sponsors of the national team) did an ad-campaing called 'Break the Spell'. Along with Valtteri Filppula, Mikko was one of the faces of the campaign.

To me, this video is basically everything that Mikko appears to be off ice. Intense and really passionate about everything he sets out to do, but at the same time he's mostly very goofy and laid back. At least so long as you don't catch him after a bad game or something like that, as he can get a little testy about loosing. He's also really not known to be one to mince words.

He's also very polite and well-mannered, and as such it's not in anyway unusual to see media call him "the ideal son-in-law" every now and again. (The fact that he's still a bachelor might have something to do with that.)

Donating to children's hospitals both in Minnesota and in Finland certainly doesn't hurt his reputation as a genuinely nice guy.

Neither does holding up the game so he can help an injured fan

Even if he's secretly a huge prat sometimes

I really wasn't kidding about the competitiveness

Also, he should not be allowed to dress himself. Because when he does things like this happen

or this

(The lady in the picture with him, is his mom. Love how tiny she looks in comparison.)

Compulsive need to look like a grandpa aside, Mikko is very well liked by his teammates.

Who include one Mikael Granlund

Here he is on

an off ice

Born February 26, 1992 in Oulu, Finland. The twenty year old center/winger, often claimed as the greatest future star of Finnish hockey and is also one of the most promising prospects of Minnesota Wild's who drafted him as ninth overall, in 2010.

When Mikael made his SM-liiga debut, with his hometown team Oulun Kärpät, on his seventeeth birthday in 2009 a lot was already expected of him. By then he had already played at the World Juniors as a sixteen year old, the second youngest Finn ever, and had never scored less than twenty points during a season, even if he was always playing amongst older players. He played in two games, but didn't register any points before getting pulled out of the line up on March 3, just as the team was set to take ice.

Would've been nice to see you wear that jersey at least a bit longer..

Those ended up being the only games Granlund ever played with the team on adult level as contract dispute between him and the club resulted in Granlund signing with a different team that same spring. The problem? Accoring to Granlund the contract he signed was altered afterwards. It also would've paid him virtually nothing. Based on these, he considered the contract null and void and himself a free agent. Kärpät tried to keep Granlund, who eventually sued his old team, arguing that the contract he signed with them did not meet the requirments for an empoyment contract. In the end the suit was settled out of court the following summer, and Granlund started the 2009-10 season as a member of the Helsinki IFK, with whom he stayed for three seasons before signing with the Wild this spring.

Now, there's no way of knowing how much the whole ordeal has affected Granlund as a person. Beyond a press release about signing with the HIFK he has never (to my knowledge at least) commented on the situation that forced him leave his old team, and even in that he only says that he's signing elsewhere because playing with Kärpät has become impossible.

But personally, I can't help thinking that being exposed to the shadier parts of sports business and having to go through a legal battle at seventeen would have an impact on anybody. At the very least, I'd think it has made him more careful, something which seemed evident in the way his signing with the Wild in May maybe took a few days longer than what the hastier fans were hoping for. It was never about him not wanting to sign with them, on the contrary. But if you'd had to go through all that, wouldn't you want to be extra sure that the next time you sign a life altering contract that everything is absolutely foolproof this time?

In any case, Granlund went on to win the league championship in 2011 with the HIFK. As a first line center, he was instrumental in the win, being also the leading point scorer in the playoffs that year. He was awarded the Jarmo Wasama memorial trophy, given to the best rookie of the year, in 2010 when he also received Raimo Kilpiö award, given to the league's gentlemanly player (he had total of 2 penalty minutes in 43 games). He also got the President's Trophy in 2011, award given by Honor Chairman of Finnish Ice Hockey Association. In his three full season's Granlund has never finished the regular season with less than thirty points and has always been in the top five points scorers on his team.

But enough of points and awards, let's look at highlight already! Here's best of Granlund from the 2011-12 season

In 2010 a group of sports journalism students made a profile piece on Granlund. It's a really great look on who he, mostly as a player, but also off the ice.
Part 1 (It's subtitled, but if those don't go on automatically, just press the cc button.)

And part 2

Now, you can't really talk about Granlund, without at least mentioning the awesome game winning goal at the World Championships against Russia in semi finals last year.

One thing constantly noted about Granlund is how humble he is, and I think the way he reacted to that goal is the perfect example of it. In literally every time his been asked about it in interviews since his answer has been some variant of "yeah, sure it was nice and all, but it's still just one goal, just like any other" He even manages to sound completely genuine while saying that.

Of course the thing to remember is that, at least in Finland, Granlund has been under media's eyes at least since he was sixteen years old, and locally even earlier. So he has had plenty enough time to get used to the exposure that comes from being a pro hockey player. Which is obvious from his lack of self-consciousness, appearing surprisingly comfortable on camera.

(Other noteworthy things in this interview: like many other hockey players, Granlund lacks the ability to keep his tongue in his mouth.)

That is, at least as long as the only thing he has to talk about is hockey, at least. If asked a question about off ice issues however, he'll turn into a shy and awkward teenager soon enough. I had originally planned to include some of the videos about him getting asked about the hordes of teenage girl screaming his name (yes, that a thing), and turning into a blushing, stuttering kid, but all of those seem to have mysteriously disappeared from youtube. So instead, here's Granlund being awkward while shooting an ad for a Finnish phone company.

And then the actual ad itself.

One thing also often said about Granlund, is how he's been able to make himself home in a locker room filled with guys lot older than himself and how he appears to be much older than he actually is.

But to me personally, the most remarkable thing is how he almost seems like he takes pleasure in proving anyone who doubts him wrong. And there have been many (some people just can't stand to see others succeeding in anything.) I mean in nearly every season that his played so far in the SM-Liiga, he has done everything excepted of him and more. That is not counting his latest one, but I think that the fact that he scored career highs in every major category, and people call it disappointing speaks more about just how much was asked of him, than it does about his performance.

And so now that we know both of them separately it's time for the fun part;
Why the two of them should be having all the gay sex

Because they're adorable together, for one.

Granlund and Koivu were connected to each other literally the second Granlund was drafted by the Wild, as you can see from his draft video.

Makes sense of course, Koivu the Finnish captain of the team and Granlund the future Finnish superstar, often compared to Koivu's big brother, playing in the same team soon enough. The thing practically writes itself.

It wasn't however until an almost year later, that the two met each other, having been chosen to play for Finland at the 2011 World Championships in Bratislava. For Koivu, it would be the first time donning the "C" in his national team jersey, for Granlund, the first time playing for Finland in a men's tournament.

Not to get into any specifics about the tournament itself, since those are not really prudent to the subject of this particular primer, I'll just jump right to the part where Finland won the tournament and our second ever World Championships title. During the award ceremony Koivu and Granlund had a Moment.

(Jump to 6:59 for the part in question.) I don't know which is better, the star struck look on Granlund's face or how Koivu keep hitting him until he gets Granlund to look at him..

Winning the championship was really huge, and as key members of the team, both Granlund and Koivu spent much of the summer doing pr appearances and interviews and whatnot. And they did a lot of those together. Not that either one of them was objecting to that.

Fucktons no alcohol was consumed prior to taking this picture.

In fact, they seem to enjoy each others company so much that they didn't seem to want to stop touching each other.

The fact that Finnish usually call the Championship Trophy as "The Guy" or "Son" brings out the gay overtones of this picture beautifully.

They were even in the Army together for a while, in the late summer/early fall. (Finland has a conscripted Army so all men have to serve either in the military or in civilian service sometime after their eighteenth birthday, although it's usually delayed for a year or to allow them to finish school. Now idea how Mikko managed to put it of for ten years though.)

Still touching.

In fact, when looking for pictures for this primer at one point I was starting to suspect that off ice ones, in which their not in some sort of bodily contact, simply don't exist.

That is, until I finally found one.

In which theirs longing gazing across a crowd.

But as the summer came to an end, it was time for Granlund to make a decision. To stay in Finland for a one more year or more to North America and play for the NHL? When Koivu was asked about what he thinks Granlund should do, the answer was that he'd "already hinted to Granlund that he really should come and play for the Wilds." Not that I would ever suggest that he might've had any kind of ulterior motives, beyond what he thought of as best for Granlund career.

In the end though, Granlund decided that he wasn't ready for NHL quite yet, and stayed in Finland. (There's a really good, subtitled interview about what went into that decision here.)

But being separated by an ocean is no excuse to stop being adorable. At the 2012 World Juniors Granlund was captaining the Finnish team when he had a snafu in a elimination shootout against Sweden in semifinals. (You can watch it here.) When Koivu heard what had happened he called Granlund up, because he wanted to comfort him. Russo, Wilds' beat writer wrote about it here. Some of the highlights from the piece:

"'He's a great guy,' Granlund said of Koivu last summer. 'I need to learn from him. He’s a great player and great leader, so there’s much to learn from him.'"

"If you know Koivu, he’s not exactly the touchy, feely type. So for Koivu to show this kind of compassion was big."

“'He said, ‘It’s just hockey,’” Granlund said. 'He tried to cheer me up. It means a lot that he called me. He’s a great player, and a good friend.'”
That's the picture Finnish media chose to use to accompany the story once they got wind of it. Don't you just love it when sports writers write slash for you?

And then of course in May the two of them were re-united at the Worlds again. Once the tournament was over, Granlund signed with the Wilds. The two of them should be playing with each other full time as soon as season starts, whenever that may be. Since they no longer have to angst about being stuck on two different continentals, they can start angsting about their age difference (which, btw, for those of you too lazy to count yourself is nine years). Which, is the attraction of the pairing in a nutshell. Or, as [personal profile] intertangled  put it:"It's like taking the best parts of Staal/Skinner and Carter/Richards."
And really, what more could you possibly want?

So there you have it.
Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 09:41 pm (UTC)
So, this comment ended up being really, really long because apparently I have a lot of feelings about these two. What even.

First off, this was supposed to be a short, quick look on who are these two Minnesota Wild players are, and why are they shippy together. Which it still is, except for the short and quick part.
LOL, isn't that the way it always goes? (You're right, editing is really, really hard!)

Huh, that Nike commercial is surprisingly non-sucky for a sports-commercial. And Mikko is... kind of sexy? (NOOOOO!) Like, why is he attractive and nice and kind of funny? I cannot have positive feelings towards Finnish players, it's like against the law or something!

Also, he should not be allowed to dress himself.
This is true for 99% of all hockey players. How they always manage to choose the least appropriate outfit is a complete mystery to me.

The whole stuff with Kärpät and Granlund is really annoying. I can understand why you feel frustrated by your team sometimes. (This is why I generally avoid finding out what goes on on the business end of professional sports, because the more I see about how everything is run, the less I want to do with the whole thing. There's so much fuckery, everywhere.)

Now, you can't really talk about Granlund, without at least mentioning the awesome game winning goal at the World Championships against Russia in semi finals last year.
Okay, I'm not even going to pretend that isn't one of the sexiest goals, ever. How is that for real, seriously?

Ugh, why is Granlund so adorable? I just want to hug him and cuddle him. THIS IS VERY HARD FOR ME, OKAY? And they're so cute together, even in that video from 2011 Worlds (I was sure that year was canceled, really, I don't remember anything about it. PS would you like a goalie? His name is Fasth and he's really useful!)

Fucktons no alcohol was consumed prior to taking this picture.
Hokey players never drink. Finns, especially, never consume alcohol. #truefact

They were even in the Army together for a while, in the late summer/early fall.
O_o Is this a... thing, in Finland? Do people do military service for shits and giggles? I understand nothing about this picture!

In fact, when looking for pictures for this primer at one point I was starting to suspect that off ice ones, in which their not in some sort of bodily contact, simply don't exist.
The slash potential inherent in these two is kind of ridiculous.

At the 2012 World Juniors Granlund was captaining the Finnish team when he had a snafu in a elimination shootout against Sweden in semifinals.
Okay, that is kind of awful. I mean, I'm sure Gustafsson would have made the save anyway (SHUT UP, IT TOTALLY WOULD HAVE HAPPENED!) but that is just painful to watch. And now I want to hug him until he stops looking sad. WTF? (I'm sure Mikko took care of that anyway.)

Since they no longer have to angst about being stuck on two different continentals, they can start angsting about their age difference
...fine, I kind of ship it. Like, a lot. Dammit. (You really need to do the Big Bang and write about a million words about these two, because now I want all the stories, forever and ever.)

TL;DR Awesome primer!

Edited to add: Oh, hey, don't forget to link this on Hockeypedia! More people need to ship these two.
Edited 2012-08-29 10:38 pm (UTC)
Thursday, August 30th, 2012 02:17 pm (UTC)
Now you know how I feel about Lundqvist! Sucks, doesn't it? ;p
Our lives are so hard ^_^

I'm suspecting some sort of secret clause in the CBA; "players must always endeavor to make themselves look as tacky and ridiculous as possible."
This would actually make a whole lot of sense. I mean, I made a whole lot of embarrassing noises over Malcolm Subban at the draft, just because of how well dressed he was. (Well, partly that, at least.) It's just so rare to see!

But shockingly, the most promising prospect the country has produced possibly in decades and his first team nearly having to go to court were big enough news that every major news outlet was reporting on it at the time, so it really wasn't something you could avoid hearing about.
Yeah, it's always hard when it's something you really can't avoid. I figured out pretty early on in my life that professional sports wasn't really something I wanted to be involved in, or wanted anyone I cared about being involved in, just from the shit that was going on with the guys I went to school with. And that was still at a really low-key amateur level. Which is why I tend to approach information about off-ice stuff very carefully.

if one were to pick a moment Granlund went from being a really good, promising young hockey player to rock star teenage heartthrob, worshipped by damn near whole country, it's that one goal.
Well, I kind of want to draw little hearts around pictures of him and squeal like a teenager after seeing that goal, so I can see how that would be the case =D Argh, so freaking awesome!

If I have to deal with 2006 still being part of history books, you're bloody well going to live with last year happening. ;D
Heee, it's actually kind of hard to ignore 2011, since every youtube video ever with Tre Kronor in it has at least two comments from Finns with some variation of ”6-1 you fuckers!” in it. (And likewise, pretty much all the videos with the Finnish team in them has some comments from Swede's with either ”5-1 to 6-5!” or ”How many Olympic golds do you have?”. Our countries are so freaking mature ^_^

In all honestly, I have recently come to see that Fasth deserves some credit for what happened last year.
I don't think I'll ever be able to be objective about Fasth. Sure, logically, a 6-1 loss isn't ever going to be just the goalies fault, but my approach to him is not very rational. I just hate his face and want him to go away for ever. (Much like with Tommy Salo. Not really his fault either, yet I will never, ever forgive him. I even tend to have a visceral negative reaction to Sami Salo, just based on his name.)

It's just that we have this lovely little thing called conscription army, so military service is mandatory for men, as soon as they turn 18
Ah, okay, that makes sense. We used to have the same thing (it just recently got removed), but most people here never did it anyway. It was kind of easy to avoid, by simply saying that you didn't want to, so either you did it after you graduated from school, because you wanted to, or you didn't do it at all. Which is why I got a bit confused at seeing Mikko in a uniform. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone doing military service ten years later, here.

First of; yeah, no he wouldn't have. But feel free to continue being delusional. ;D
DON'T YOU DARE SAY BAD THINGS ABOUT GUSTAFSSON! He's pretty much the only hope I have at the moment for future swedish goalies that are not awful! (Oh God, Lundqvist will retire at some point and then we will have none and I will cry FOREVER!)

Secondly, watching that video, while horribly in itself, is really nothing compared to seeing the kind of comments people have said about it.
That is such bullshit. Yes, it's a bad mistake, and it's at a horrible time, but it's ONE mistake, at ONE point. Find me a single hockey player that hasn't fucked up at some point in their career. External pressures aside, these sort of things happen to everyone and trying to make comments about a players entire career based on one moment is inherently useless. (Unless it's Tommy Salo. *is incredibly hypocritical* )

But I just can't get the story I'm working on to work with Granlund's pov.
That always happens, doesn't it? It's never the character you have the best handle on that ends up as the POV one. At this point, I'm convinced my brain is conspiring against me.
Saturday, October 6th, 2012 10:44 pm (UTC)
I totally ship it. Bring on the fic!
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 01:40 am (UTC)
Hey, I'm writing up a Wild primer-- do you mind if I link this? This is so excellent, and so in depth!
Saturday, December 14th, 2013 06:04 am (UTC)
wait did someone write a fic. if so can you link it. I really really would like to read it and it would probably make my night.