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Will hockey in Finland survive as the country will?



Image courtesy:

Finland is celebrating 100 years this year as an independent country, which makes for a lot of events during the year in Finland and the diaspora.

The actual day when the declaration of independence was announced, 6th December 1917, is an emotional day for me, the undersigned, and I always take a moment to think back to all the stories from older relatives who fought for their survival and for an independent country.

Although, when we talk about the latter, I am more grateful that they survived because I became aware early during my childhood that my generation and the following were one bullet, one bomb away for not being here at all. I get chills when I think about it.

The culture in Finland, if we look from other perspectives, is quite amusing. There is the sauna culture, which is basically a synonym for Finland. You never have to worry wherever you go if you will find a sauna or not because there is always one sauna close to you. It might be built in a trailer, in an abandoned car or even in an old telephone box. As long as you can get some sort of heat over 70+ Celsius degrees, it will do perfectly as ever.

Don’t be surprised if you find the animals in the sauna as well, like a big bear. Or a tiny sauna for squirrels…

Sulo the bear man feeding one of his bears’ Image courtesy:

Then we have something that is actually older than the country itself, the tango culture. It is said that the tango was introduced at the Apollo Theatre in Helsinki in the year of 1913 by two dancers and right after that the tango spread over the entire country, from Helsinki to the smallest village with two people.

Every year there is a huge tango festival in the town of Seinäjoki, where they crown the best tango singer of the year. The show is broadcast of course and engages the whole country.  I love and listen to tango myself because I love the music and it is also a big part of my heritage as a Finn.

Finland celebrated 100 years anniversary of the tango four years ago. Image courtesy:

Don’t be surprised if you find two bears dancing their version of the tango in the woods…

Yet, we have the great sport of hockey to bring up.

Hockey is still, without doubt, the number one sport in Finland. But it has also changed a lot in the last 20-30 years. Most organizations who run a team at the highest division, the Finnish Liiga, are struggling today with the attendance numbers.

Some of the reasons are the basic private economy in parity with the price of the tickets, as it is a dear cost for a whole family to spend money on a single hockey game. Not to talk about a whole season.

 I am sure that many want to go to the venue and see the games live, so to say, but are forced to choose to stay at home and watch the games on TV or streams at a much lower cost than going to the venue.

Left are the hard-core fans who spend most of their wages on the live games, but they don’t fill the arenas to the brim always.

In the end, it means that the venues have a full attendance only occasionally, which causes major or minor economic trouble to the organizations. It is however quite bothersome.

And, they can’t go back either too much to the older days when the players had less salary than they have today.

On the other hand, Finland is still producing upcoming prospects and has nothing to worry about the coming 10-15 years.

But when Laine, Puljujärvi, Määttä, Barkov etc. are gone, then what?

As we know, things change, nothing is for certain and one must be awake all the time to follow the movements, otherwise one perishes (figuratively).

My thoughts for the Finnish domestic and national hockey is the following:

Are the hockey association and the organizations awake enough and looking ahead to the future by being present enough in the now?

Somehow I feel that there is a need of a revival of the hockey in Finland, in order to get the crowd back to the venues, make the games into event fans really want to attend etc.

Most of all, a clear vision is required.

The country of Finland will endure another 100 years with all its peculiar phenomena, but how about hockey, will it survive as the country will?

Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistence.

-Daniel Burnham, an architect 1846-1912



Sulo Karjalainen, called the bear man, passed away for some time ago. A remarkable man and lover of nature and the bears.


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Arto Palovaara, Sunday Chronicler for Sports Rants Europe. Previously, he contributed for the betting company Betsafe, Svenska fans, Get real hockey and Ice nation UK. He is also an educated archaeologist and life coach who loves literature and history. Not to forget: probably he is the only sportswriter that plays the banjo.


25th Annual Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night, A Charity Knockout Event



Photo Credit: Monica Alvarez

The stars came out last night to give, show support, perform, and to continue to raise money and awareness in hopes of one day find a cure to knockout Parkinson’s disease.

Going back to year number 1, The first ever event was held at the Ritz-Carlton operated on a much smaller scale than today, which is now held at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.

At the very first Celebrity Fight Night With the help of Phoenix Suns Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle, and the valley of the sun’s very own Louie Espinoza, Tony Baltazar, and boxing champion Michael Carbajal who by the way fought in the ring with over sized boxing gloves.

The ”Puttin on the Fists at The Ritz” first Celebrity Fight Night scored a knockout win and is STILL punching on through today for the Greatest Of All Time, The late great Muhammad Ali.

Last night I was honored to attend and speak to a few of the stars, one was NFL legendary kicker Nick Lowery, Mr. Lowery now spends most of his time at charitable endeavors and advocating for alternative medicine research and is also a spokesman for Kannalife, Inc to raise awareness for CTE and players safety in hopes of one day having intercellular “helmets,” like Kannalife’s CBD and KLS-13019, is so important to potentially treat the brain.

I asked Lowery what is his favorite Ali memory, and Lowery’s response: ” Taking Ali to the NBA All-Star game one year as we sat behind Jay-Z and Beyonce and watching Beyonce wave to Ali, Beyonce spoke to us, she is the sweetest person. Also taking Ali to the locker rooms and watching Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and all the other all stars turn into children at the sight of seeing their hero the greatest of all time Muhammad Ali walk through the doors, what an experience that was.”

In asking the very same question to R&B Singer Brian McKnight, ”I have so many Ali memories but my favorite was watching Ali knockout George Foreman at home with my dad. The odds were against Ali and Ali being the great fighter that he was he beat the odds and stopped a much younger powerful puncher in Foreman. You know, I am still a big boxing fan today, I enjoy watching Tyson Fury out of the current heavyweights.”

And what did legendary former champion boxer, Micheal Carbajal have to say? ”It’s truly an honor to attend this great event, at the very first one proceeds went to my 9th street boxing gym and now 24 years later it’s still going strong, a great charity”. Mr. Carbajal went on to talk some boxing with me,

Carbajal- ” You see Spence/Garcia?”

Me- ” Yes, it was brutal, what did you think?”

Carbajal- ” Not good for Mikey Garcia at all, but he is still my favorite current boxer, and he beats everybody at 135 pounds if he can make the weight there. Mikey would knockout Lomachenko in 4 rounds at 135.”

Me- ”Wow, you really think that? Both are great technical boxers but I can’t see a 4 round fight between them, so you really think it would only take Mikey 4 rounds to stop Lomachenko?”

Carbajal- ” I KNOW so!”

Special honorees for the evening include fabled American music producer and 27-time Grammy Award-winner Quincy Jones, Arizona State University President Dr. Michael Crow and Dr. Abraham Lieberman, the medical director of the Movement Disorders Clinic at Barrow Neurological Institute and Renee Parsons of the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation.

“For 25 years, we’ve treated Celebrity Fight Night audiences to the world’s greatest entertainers and this year will be no different as we welcome Barry Manilow,” said Jimmy Walker, Founder of Celebrity Fight Night. “With the help of our celebrity friends and incredibly generous donors, we are once again excited to raise millions of dollars and make a difference in the lives of those who need our support.”

Individual tickets for Celebrity Fight Night start at $1,500 – $10,000.  To purchase tickets or to get more information on the event, please visit, or call (602) 956-1121.

About Celebrity Fight Night
Celebrity Fight Night has gifted more than $86 million over the past 24 years benefiting the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as several other worthy charities.

The black-tie event features a cocktail reception, silent auction, elegant dinner, and an exciting live auction including one-of-a-kind luxury items and experiences. Celebrity Fight Night Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1994 by Jimmy Walker and supports the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as numerous other charities. For more information,

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Olympic Cyclist Kelly Catlin Dead at 23



Olympic track cyclist Kelly Catlin, who competed in the 2016 Rio Janeiro Games, was found dead in her California home this past Friday due to an apparent suicide, according to an announcement from her father, according to Reuters.

“There isn’t a minute that goes by that we don’t think of her and think of the wonderful life she could have lived,” her father, Mark Catlin said, according to VeloNews. “There isn’t a second in which we wouldn’t freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable.”

Catlin, 23, took the silver medal in Rio and was part of the teams who took home the gold in 2016, 2017, and 2018 World Championships.

Catlin had reportedly struggled with mental health in the past and her sister, Christine Catlin, said that Catlin was “a really special person – kind, funny, empathetic, and talented at literally everything she did, per the Washington Post. She just felt like she couldn’t say no to everything that was asked of her and this was her only escape.”

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Kansas City Chiefs

Tom Brady And Pats Play Record 8th AFC Championship Game, Seek 6th Superbowl



It’s Championship Sunday and one of the NFL staples remain atop the league. The New England Patriots are appearing in their record 8th AFC title game in hopes of competing for a sixth title.

A season that most organizations would be happy with, was one of challenge for the Patriots. Usually a top tier team, they suffered bad losses to the Jaguars, Titans and Dolphins. However, in Patriot fashion along a weak AFC East, the Patriots finished 11-5, won a 10th straight conference title and secured a first round bye.

Kansas City will host New England in the AFC Championship game in what is a rematch from week six. That game featured an offensive clinic ,  As reported by CBS Boston, Brady went 24-35 passing for 340 yards and touchdown in that game; Mahomes went 23-36 passing for 352 yards and four touchdowns. The AFC Championship could very well play out the same way.

The Chiefs will be a tough out, They won their first home playoff game in 25 years last week against the Colts and are riding one of the most prolific offenses in history behind quarterback whisperer Andy Reid and phenome Patrick Mahomes who is arguably the NFLs best young QB.

In what is a David and Goliath matchup, Brady seems to imply they are the underdog. As he told CBS’s Tracy Wolfson, “I know everyone thinks we suck and, you know, cant win games,”.  Will the dynasty continue? Or will Reid and Mahomes hoist the Lombardi?

I’m leaning towards the game plan of Bill Belichick and veteran experience of Tom Brady in this one. I think a Patriot/Saints matchup is in order. Either way, it will undoubtedly be one for the ages.

Game Time: Sunday January 20th at 6:40ET/5:40CT on CBS.

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