Don't Worry Manny; Finland Has Your Back

finland-wp-a.jpgManny Legace can breathe easier as he gets ready for the Blues’ training camp in a few weeks. He has not one, but two Finnish backups waiting to, um, finish a game for him should need arise. Having already signed Juuso* Riksman as a free agent out of the mother country, the Blues recently acquired Hannu Toivanen from the Bruins.

For a variety of reasons, neither of these guys is likely to be confused with Fred Brathwaite. Riksman, 30, has never played a professional game in North America, much less the NHL. Toivanen was so awful last season (3-9-1, .875 SV) that the Bruins gave him away for Karl Soderberg, a Swedish prospect who refused to play in the AHL last season, and is now recovering from a serious eye injury.

While Legace, who it is said loves him a good reindeer steak and blueberry pie from time to time, is excited about both his new teammates, erstwhile backup netminder Jason Bacashihua is contemplating legally changing his name to Jarkko Bakalonen in hopes of improving his standing in the organization.

Why are the Blues suddenly stockpiling Finnish goaltenders? One theory is that the team trainers really wanted an authentic sauna. A more plausible explanation lies in the identity of the Blues’ director of scouting: Jarmo “Helstinky” Kekalainen. Hey, even Bob Knight recruits in his old stomping grounds, so I can’t fault that. I just hope that Lasse Kukkonen and Jukka Hentunen are not the Blues’ next big FA pickups.

* A propos of nothing, I briefly dated a girl named Juanita “Juicy” Kekelis in high school. For you youngsters, this was back before you could buy clothes advertising yourself that way. This girl earned that nickname.



  1. Being a long time Bruins fan, I don’t even want to start at how much I hate the organization and the way they give away young goalie talent. By the way Toivanen is really a blue chip prospect for a goalie, he only got shelled last year cause he couldn’t see around Chara’s freaking long legs, or the other fact that the Bruins don’t have any defense at the moment.

    *wonders if anyone will ever give him a gun and bullet to finally blow some sense into the Bruins organization*

  2. Those excuses sound like the same things they said about Andrew Raycroft when the Leafs traded for him…

  3. Yes but did Raycroft get any defensive help by the Leafs… nope not at all.

    3 worst defensive teams in the league, Bruins, Leafs and Blackhawks, go figure 3 of the original six.

  4. Man, reading this article really made we want to slather up some Rudolph in A-1 sauce! Legace is solid but not great. And these older prospects from the European leagues can surprise you, just look at that guy for the BlueJackets. He was 30 when he came over here, people who saw him play said he was good and then he gets into a starting role and kicks ass. We will see about these other guys I suppose.

  5. Niklas Backstrom is another excellent example of a quality “older” prospect from the Euro leagues.

  6. Oh, these guys may turn out to be decent. I even have some hopes for Toivanen, as he is still quite young. The Blues have uber-prospect Marek Schwarz pegged into the #1 slot at their AHL affiliate, though, so the Finnish invasion are auditioning for backup time, at best. If I were a 30-year-old coming overseas to play for the first time, I would not be very excited about the prospect of riding the pine in Peoria.

  7. Riksman played HORRIBLY at the Blues’ development camp. That was before they traded for Toivanen. I have to think they were hoping he’d push Bacashihua for the backup job. Not going to happen.

    Legace has a two-year deal. Schwarz has only one AHL season (his only in N. America) under his belt. While he was an all-star, that’s not enough experience yet. He’ll be ready when Legace is done.

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