Ice hockey is just a game, but sometimes mundane things like a good, tense game create great amounts of joy and amazement. It is not just about big stupid refrigerator sized men hitting each others to the boards, it is also about showing your wit and sharpness of your thought and innovation in the middle of all the high performance adrenaline pumping action.
Mikael Granlund, 19 years old player from Finland, did yesterday something which will be retold numerous times in the years to come. Single handedly he broke the spirit of Team Russia with a maneuver more often seen in the floorball or lacrosse tournaments. It was just a one goal, but it had the effect of nuclear bomb. Everyone was in shock and awe – in the middle of an extremely tight and physical game this one boy rewrites conventional wisdom and does something unexpected. Expressions on faces of team russia were priceless.
Same boy in the season 2006 – 2007: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2w5Q6yKk04 …… See any similarities 😀
Normally I wouldn’t write anything about ice hockey, but this game and this event had us all laughing, smiling and cheering — and believing that even though the finnish team is and has been a certain underdog, they had the potential to win much the game and even the whole tournament. Problem with the finnish team – as well as quite often with the finnish mentality – has been that we unintentionally strangle or do not appreciate exceptional individual talent, forcing sparks and spiky personalities into the same mold – instead of fostering their creativity and talents within the team.
Throughout hard times it has worked in certain scenarios, producing heaps of diligent team players who day after day clock in at 8 o’clock and leave at 16. They work hard in the corners and mid field, defend their goal fiercely – and you can count on them to do what they do as a team – even though they do not score, even though their life would depend on it.
Ice hockey would be bad allegory when talking about society and workplace, unless it would not mean so much to the finns collectively. I still remember what the effect of world championships win in 1995 was. It was exceptional and sensational. We did not believe that it would be possible, but it was and it did happen. Guys who eat same kind of porridge every morning as the rest of us, worked exceptionally well together as a team – allowing at the same their individual exceptional skills and talents contribute positively to the end goal. It wasn’t just that exceptional individuals could come out of Finland like before, it was that we could be exceptional together as a team. Yes we could!
As a nation we need people who can work well with others, but who can also rise up to the challenges and make positive sparks fly. We need to be fearless and openminded – and be willing to experiment, to try to see things sideways. We need to cherish diversity and creativity – and be happy about someones success, instead of feeling envy. We need to be better together, as alone we will fall – but together we can succeed.