GUEST POST – Arto Palovaara on ‘Connecting the worldwide hockey family’

NOTE: We have obviously been very quiet on the posting front recently, by virtue of Chris being in Australia and myself taking on an internship (read more about this in State of the Union), but we hope to continue bringing you great hockey content throughout this period and into the future. One of the ways we’ll be doing this is by having terrific guest writers and first up is Arto Palovaara, who covers the Finnish Liiga for Betsafe, on Get Real Hockey and on his own page http://www.thelionchronicle.com. Myself and Chris cannot thank Arto enough for taking the time to write for us, and we hope you enjoy his take on the hockey world as much as we do!

Image courtesy of hockeysfuture.com

Image courtesy of hockeysfuture.com.

That headline has been my motto since I began to write about hockey. Why? You might ask. What does it mean? You might ask further. And those are just questions. Because I have been asking myself where did I get that from and what does it mean for me?

My guest blogging for Ice nation UK is a sign of a true connection between members in the worldwide hockey family and I feel such honour to be a part of this, to have such a nice connection with Sam and Chris, and this hockey page in the UK.

I didn’t think about it before, but when I began to write about hockey, I realized one thing or actually many things. One thing or so called insight, is that we have to cut the prestige. What do I mean by that?

From a writer’s (and fan) point of view:

I don’t know everything about hockey or about every player in the whole entire world, or every play system either. There are millions of people who are not writers but know so much more than I do. But I am curious. I am curious about how other fans from other places than Scandinavia see and understand the game. There is nothing like right or wrong, just different perspectives on how to play hockey.

And I am also very curious about how, for example, the UK develop their hockey talents, and I support their intentions to create hockey stars as much as I wish that Finland or any other country will make great progress.

Image courtesy of jokerit.com.

Image courtesy of jokerit.com.

I also realized that we have to cut the prestige amongst writers. When I noticed that some writers in higher positions than I am, refused to answer some of my questions and even had a slight undertone of being superior, just because they were writing for bigger media. There was nothing else to do but skip those and try to connect with other people, and I have found so many great friends and fellow writers who do excellent work with their pages. I find myself honorable to know and be in contact with these people through the web, like Sam and Chris at Ice nation UK, Patrick Williams, the Jets Correspondent for NHL.com, Patricia who tweets a lot about the OK Barons, Chantal Machabee who covers the Montréal Canadians and many more.

I also found that hockey is conveyed in many languages as well, not just in Finnish, Swedish or English, there’s a big part of the hockey world that speak French, also Russian, Ukrainian, Byelorussian and now…we might also see the rise of Balkan hockey thanks by Medveščak from Zagreb, who have played excellent hockey so far in their first season ever in the KHL, and they speak Croatian (aka Serbo-Croatian).

Perhaps I am wrong but I do suspect that there lies other points of view and plenty of hockey wisdom behind these languages, and that has made me at least feel like it wouldn’t hurt to learn a bit of each language…or at least try to catch up what they are writing about on Twitter or Facebook.

From a writer’s view to the ice…

Image courtesy of jacketscannon.com.

Image courtesy of jacketscannon.com.

I think we also have to cut the prestige between the leagues, as I think in the end; it will not be about being the best league in the world. Well, I don’t mind or care if it is NHL or KHL, it doesn’t matter, but what does matter in the long run, is the survival of the game.

I’m not saying that hockey has to compete with soccer, I don’t see any point in that, but I do find validity in this, that the hockey world has to expand to other continents besides North America and Europe. Further more, I really wish that the largest associations like IIHF, NHL and KHL, who have got the money and power to do something to help out, for example, Africa, Australia, Asia and South America in developing their hockey culture, could work together.

Hockey has unfortunately been a privileged sport, mostly for a small group, quite often for white and rich Europeans and North Americans, but when we do get the first African, Asian, South American superstar in hockey or why not even a player with a Romani background, whether they be male or female, that has the skills to play in the highest leagues, then we will really be getting somewhere.

Hockey for me is some sort of big fireplace, a place where everyone should be welcome to join in and share stories about great games, goals, saves and tackles, or even just a special moment that we can listen to and remember for a long time.

So a great vision is that we all could just abolish the prestige and the narrow thinking that we still have, and let the fireplace expand with more stumps to sit on for everybody, and it wouldn’t hurt if the IIHF, NHL and KHL, working together, could help make more room for other continents to take their place around the fireplace and toss more logs into the fire that it will keep flaming for a long while yet.

That for me is truly connecting the worldwide hockey family.

To the last:

I am writing at the moment for Betsafe, the international betting company and run the blog “Arena Kalevala” in Swedish, on my own homepage the Lion chronicle, and for Get Real Hockey in English about the Finnish liiga; mostly because I wish to convey the league in another language to fans across the world.

Another reason for this is that I think Finnish hockey should not only be for the Finnish fans to take part, even if it is natural because the liiga is situated in Finland. So…my deepest wish, when I began to write was to connect the worldwide hockey family by telling stories from Finnish liiga and the national team.

For me, hockey wherever it is played, is for everyone.

/Arto Palovaara

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