He came, he was seen … and he was immediately most popular of all. Mikael Granlund’s World Cup premiere also gives hope that he can leave Tampere as a winner. How well he thrives in the role of the Lion’s savior can not be missed.
Mikael Granlund was at a different level, the other players are on the ice, and consequently at a different level than the rest in the interview zone.
The other Finnish and Latvian players were free to shout at the journalists, and to ask a few questions about Finland’s narrow 2-1 victory.
But when it finally became Mikael Granlund’s turn to take on the large press shop, something more was needed. The Lions’ team leader Mika Kortelainen strictly explained that “Here Mikke should stand”.
A volunteer walked around and collected tape recorders which she placed on a tray and the rest of the journalists stretched their long selfie sticks in unison towards the player who almost alone made sure that the Lions won their second match in the home World Cup in Tampere.
Granlund stumbled forward, pulled his hand through his hair and grinned, as if he missed standing in front of Finnish journalists.
– It was nice to play again. It was a long time since I put on the Lion Sweater and I enjoyed every second, Granlund explains.
– It was by no means an easy match but we found a way to win. All credit to Latvia, we had a hard time getting to good locations. It is a good sign that the team manages to win even matches.
The jet lag appeared nowhere
A few minutes earlier, Granlund had felt the love of just over 11,000 spectators in the Tampere Arena. That it is a rare popular match hero could not be mistaken.
– Of course it’s nice, I can not deny that. The audience is absolutely incredible and I have always loved playing in this shirt, says Granlund and looks a bit taken out for a moment.
Mikael Granlund’s contribution in his first match in Finland in almost six years was absolutely magnificent, and even better if you consider the conditions. For the first time in a long time, Granlund played on a large ice surface, and it jet lagged with a long journey in the body.
– I managed well but the feeling and shape gets better when I get into the rhythm properly, Granlund explains.
Add to that that he had brand new chain mates that he had never played with before.
Seen many of Ufa’s matches
Something that certainly made it easier was that Sakari Manninen and Teemu Hartikainen in everyday life in Ufa were in the same chain as his little brother, Markus Granlund.
– He already has games, that some year with them and I have seen many of their matches. We have also talked about ice hockey sometimes so I knew what the game will be like, says big brother Granlund.
– This gave a good taste. He is very skilled and reads the game well. He has eyes in his neck and you know that when he gets the puck, there will be small smart passes. From here, it will be good to continue, says Sakari Manninen satisfied.
Next to the USA on Monday night. And in the form that Mikael Granlund has arrived in Tampere, there is reason for the Finnish hockey audience to focus on the World Cup final day, Sunday 29 May.
Or as Mikael Granlund himself puts it.
– Much is left of the tournament. Hopefully we still manage to do something special.