I first started to see Jarno Tauvo’s comments on Hockey Inside/Out, and I’m very grateful to learn that he comes here too.
And when I learned that he did, I contacted him because I was interested in knowing the path he took in becoming a solid Habs fan.
Below is Jarno, from Turku, Finland, who wrote back and explained.
“My native language is Finnish, but the lovely woman who lives with me speaks Swedish. So we speak mixed Finn and Swedish at home. Mostly the person who starts to speak first chooses the language (and she speaks a lot).
“It’s quite common here in Turku to speak Swedish too, this is a bilingual city, only 160 kilometers from Stockholm (Sweden), and luckily we have that narrow sea between us. So most Swedes understand to stay on their side. My father didn’t, he went to study to Sweden in the 60’s, but was wise enough to come back.
“You asked how I became a Habs fan. Well…
It’s not easy to explain, but I’ll try.
“I was born in 1972.
When I was a child, everybody in Finland followed only skiing or ski jumping. At summertime, long distance runners were our heroes. News from NHL was normally a week old, if there was any at all. I remember reading different hockey books at the library wondering how cool it looked to play hockey in the NHL.
“Ice hockey was (and still is) quite an expensive sport to have as a hobby. I have to admit I was a fortunate one, because my parents could afford to pay my hockey hobby.
“That was the time when every Finnish boy was a huge fan of Jari Kurri and Esa Tikkanen in Edmonton. I talked with my father about hockey and the NHL. He told (lied probably) me that Gretzky wears #99 only in honour to the greatest ever, #9, you know who. He also told me that Montreal Canadiens are the only real hockey team that has been around almost as long as hockey has existed and it is the reason why there is that game of hockey I like to play and watch. That’s probably the moment when I started to search for information about Habs.
“I was extremely happy when Jyrki Lumme was drafted by Montreal. It was at the time when Finnish television aired only Stanley Cup finals. Almost through the whole 90’s, it was the only the Finals we could see. So I’ve seen the Avalanches, Red Wings and Devils ‘domination. Before the internet I had seen only one Habs’ Final game, vs the Kings.
“I became a real “Hardcore Habs fan” when Saku moved from Turku to Montreal. I’m the same age as the older Kiprusoff brother, Marko, who had a short stint there too. He was almost my childhood neighbour. Those were the days when a Finnish hockey legend Timo Nummelin lived in the same building with our family. He has a son Petteri Nummelin, who has played a lot with Team Finland. Petteri plays still in the Finnish elite league “Liiga” at age of 41.
“Suddenly one cable television company from Sweden started to air NHL in Finland too and I had to purchase their package. The only bad thing was that Detroit and Colorado had too many Swedes, so they showed mostly their games. On a plus side, Toronto had Sundin and they played often against the Habs. Thanks to Sundin, I saw those games and a game here and there.
“One of my biggest emotions in a hockey game was to watch Saku’s comeback game vs. Ottawa. Live. I sat on a couch, eyes full of tears, amazed by the standing ovation the Bell Centre gave to him. Then I was sure that being a fan of the Montreal Canadiens means much more than just supporting a team. It is a worldwide community. At the same time when the Bell Centre was celebrating Saku’s comeback from cancer, I lived the same emotions at home, wiping tears and screaming when Craig Rivet scored and rushed to the bench to hug the captain.
“I’m not sure how I became a fan, but maybe that isn’t so rare not to know? As an example, my hometown has a two hockey teams. TPS and TuTo. TPS is like the Habs in Finland. Finns say about Finnish hockey: Game lasts for 60 minutes and at the end TPS wins. Although the last couple of seasons they have been suffering. Finland is a small country with only a little more than 5 million people here and the NHL-players from TPS include the Koivu brothers, Kiprusoff brothers, Jani Hurme, Jere Lehtinen, Kimmo Timonen (started here as pro) Joni Ortio, Rasmus Ristolainen, etc…
“But still my hometown favourite team is TuTo. I don’t know why. They are not a bad rival, because TuTo plays in second highest level. But it’s small and nice team where everybody knows each other.
It’s cool that I work a little with them too. I’m a photographer and I’ve taken their group photos and commercial photos. My photo studio is also a minor sponsor to them… It’s nice that they play well and are the best team in their league, but still. When Habs win, Habs win. TuTo’s headcoach is Artturi Lehkonen’s dad, Ismo Lehkonen. He kept joking about my Habs’s shirt to me, when I was shooting their group photo.
“Here’s some shots from Turku, Finland. The big and old building is the church which is from 1300 century. The river in the photos is the River Aura, that floats in the middle of Turku. It normally freezes in the winter. I Just noticed I don’t have photos from Turku at the summer.”