Three Finnish TV stations, two newspapers and about a dozen Finnish reporters have infiltrated Minnesota. They have been here a week, will spend the upcoming week here and attended the Wild's home opener Saturday night.
And it had nothing to do with goaltender Niklas Backstrom, nor captain Mikko Koivu.
"It's good that Mikko is here, but you know, Granlund is so big in Finland," said Heikki Miettinen, a hockey writer for the biggest daily newspaper in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat, since 1985.
Granlund is Mikael Granlund, the 2010 first-round pick who made his NHL debut against the Colorado Avalanche. Granlund, 20, reached rock star status in Helsinki when he became the teenage No. 1 center of HIFK, won an SM-liiga Rookie of the Year award, led his club to a league championship and scored a lacrosse-style goal in the 2011 world championships semifinals.
"Did you see the stamp?" Miettinen asked, referring to that goal that was captured on a postage stamp. "Granlund is the hottest player right now, absolutely. There is some kind of mania in Finland."
So much mania in fact that Samuel Savolainen, a hockey writer for the magazine Urheilulehti, has moved to St. Paul to cover Granlund and the Wild full-time. Saturday's game was televised live on Nelonen Sport Pro at 4 a.m. Finland time, and Finns who got up early enough saw him score his first goal in the second period, giving the Wild a 2-1 lead.
Homeland has Wild rookie Granlund well-covered
Minneapolis Star Tribune | Jan 20