Expert, master coach Pekka Virta ponders whether sportsmanship still has any value in the SM league.
Tapparan Luke Witkowski against TPS Oliver Lauridsen.
Aces Jami Virtanen against Luko Lenni Hämäläinen.
Flies Nick Ritchie against HIFK Ilari Melart.
The beginning of the season was quiet in terms of fights in the Norwegian Hockey Championship League, but the gloves have fallen three times in the last few days.
Fist fights may have come as a surprise to many, but Iltalehti’s expert, master trainer Pekka Virta not surprised.
– These are the hardest times for a hockey player, from now until January. Then I start to get interested in spring again, Virta says.
– When the season is at its heaviest, the nerves start to go, the level of the game drops and the excesses increase.
The surface burns
Before Saturday 25.11. Tappara game played, TPS had played against HIFK the day before and against Jukurei on Wednesday.
Kärpät and HIFK played so-called back-to-back games at the beginning of December on Friday and Saturday. First in Helsinki and then in Oulu.
– Like (Kärppie’s coach Lauri) Marjamäki said, let’s fly from Helsinki on a drunk plane for a tough back-to-back game. There is a higher probability that the surface will go genuine when you are under a big load mentally and physically.
According to Virra, the Finnish major league hockey is in a special situation because they try to eradicate overshooting but the players are temporarily pushed to the limit.
– People travel and have injuries and ailments. No matter how professional we are, players are only human, physically active and irritated by exertion. The V-curve rises when it is dark and cold.
Elmeri Elo / AOP, IL archive
Money making month
Currently, the SM league is on a short break and the league players are recovering not only from the games but also from the teams’ little Christmas parties.
The program of the SM league for the next two weeks has a strong emphasis on Friday and Saturday games. The Christmas season for viewers is also at its hottest. The clubs are now trying to make as much money as possible through ticket and ticket sales.
The next game days of the SM league
In the series of even bigger money in the Swedish SHL, a full round will be played on Thursday, December 7, Saturday, December 9 and Tuesday, December 19.
– I really understand that Finnish clubs need to get cash flow, but yes, in Sweden, the halls are full and even on Thursdays, restaurant services are used and beer is drunk. And on Saturdays in Sweden, the game might be played at 3 p.m., so that there would be children and families in the stands. That’s how we think about the future, says Virta.
Luko’s spring 2021 champion coach gave an interview while driving from Leksand in Sweden to the Stockholm area.
– You would think that there is still such a value left in sports that the level and quality of the game is a reason to come and watch the games. Somewhere we are slowly going down the wrong path, if we think that what does it matter now, as long as we play and wonder as much as possible and the restaurants are open.
Sweden is praised
If the team plays on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, according to Virra’s assessment, the consequences can be manifold. In addition to strikeouts, the number of injuries and crushing losses can increase.
– The Finns playing in Sweden see it as a big and positive thing that they don’t have to play tired, but there is always a day off. My game feels better and the level of the game is harder. Players are looking for hard games so that they can advance in their careers, Virta reports.
The SM league teams have played 24, 25, 26, 27 or 28 matches so far. Swedish SHL clubs have played 23 or 24 matches.
The complex series program of the SM League creates a situation where the average score can tell a different story about the teams’ success than the league table.
– Supporters of all ages in Pori and Rauma watch the standings. The jacket is always a little better on when you are high in the series. One of the products sold by the SM league is the league table.
Self-confessed Virta states that back-to-back games for long game trips in Sweden are difficult to implement and that even for short game trips in Switzerland, Friday-Saturday combinations are practiced.
– Finland needs to find a Finnish system that would be best for a large audience.