Mikael Granlund: Backyard Stars

He isn't here yet, but you can learn about him now.

Having prospects in the system that create excitement is something new with the Wild organization. Generally, finding anyone writing about Wild prospects is not easy to do, and most of the writing that can be found is basic game notes kind of stuff. You know... "Zack Phillips scored a goal tonight," gamer quality information. Big deal. That tells us nothing. It's great he scored a goal, but unless it was a game 7 overtime winner, I'm comfortable not knowing about it.

Then, something comes through that is actually interesting. More times than not, it is about Mikael Granlund, and is in Finnish and is of absolutely no use to anyone. That is, unless you know someone who speaks Finnish and is willing to tell you what it says.

That brings us to this video, which is titled something along the lines of "Backyard Stars" or "Stars of Backyard Games." The title is unimportant. What is is that this is a look at Granlund and his hockey playing from when he was just a wee lad. It's is a good video, even if it is a year old. Thanks to some help from Jusso Saino, we actually get to know what it says, too.

Make the jump for the video, and some English subtitles. Enjoy, and thank you, Juuso.

Note: There is a part two, which we will post either today or tomorrow.

Subtitles, from Juuso:

Starting from the locker room...

MG; "I've wanted to be a hockey player...since I was a kid, I think."

The guy talking on the video; "There are many things that make Mikael the best...Talent is talent, but it's the basic things, the willingness to work hard..."

Guy #2; "I'd say it was 3 years ago when I really first realized that this kid was a unique talent."

MG; "Well, when you get to play in the league (SM-Liiga), I guess you're doing something right."..."Isn't it every kids dream to "someday play in the NHL"?"


Then the clip actually starts...

Guy talking on the video; "Of course, it's not easy when you're a young kid, and not only do you move to a bigger city, you sign for a team that's propably the most followed and most hated in the country and the media follows your every move."

MG; "I knew when I came here that this was propably the most challenging place to come to, because you're going to be in the center of everything. The capital, the legendary IFK and everybody follows your every move." (then as he's entering the locker room, just wonders if there's anybody there)

Tom Nybondas (GM of IFK, and also, guy#2 and the first guy talking as the clip actually started.); "You don't just walk in to this team. You need to face the long tradition and history that surrounds that locker room, even be a little humbled. Once you've learned that, you'll do fine."

(Then the PA just announces the team...)

Minna Granlund (mom); "Well that's what life has been for years now, it revolves around hockey pretty much." (then they just talk about the game, nothing interesting)

Vesa Granlund (dad); "I don't think it was, you know, obvious straight away that the whole family would move at the same time...but it would've been quite a big chance for the boy, although he thought he'd do fine by himself."

Mom; "The change was of course big when you move to a big city, but the neighbourhood where we live is a bit like the one we lived in Oulunsalo ( their hometown)"

MG; "If there would be one thing I miss, it's the friends, of course. But otherwise it's been great, we've adjusted really well to living here. I think it helps a lot when your family moves with you. You don't need to figure all the stuff out right away, they help a lot."

Dad; "It was this one night when I took Mikael skating...yeah, I think he was 2 years old when he had his skates on for the first time."

Mom; "And he was really tenacious. As he learned to skate and got a bit better but he would still fall, he wanted to get up by himself, he didn't want help."



Markus (brother); "We used to always call our friends to come over and play on our yard. Guys would come from all over the town to play. We used to play for hours, all the way into the night. Mom would call us to come in and have something to eat. We'd just shout back "just one game, just this one!"."

MG; "Those we're awesome games. I'll always remember those. It was nice, you could even hit people because there was so much snow. The games got pretty intense sometimes, but it was always in good fun. It was...it was great."

Mom; "There was always...about 10-15 kids playing. Even if our kids were at the rink practicing, there would be other kids playing. It just seemed like the kids changed but the game just went on."

Markus; "We've played...in a team, hockey and football (soccer), and all kinds of games with our friends."

MG; "The big thing is that we've always played. That's where it comes from, playing with friends on the yard and outdoor hockey rinks. That's where it all comes from." (then the boys talk about their presents, just saying how awesome the hockey gear is)

Mom; "I'm sure it's developed both kids, you know, playing together, challenging each other all the time. I think it's been good for both."

MG; "I've always had that little competition going on with my little brother. Although, he's never been as good as me, but still..."

Markus; "I hate to say it, but yeah, it's pretty much been Mikael who's won. But trust me, if I ever won, you'd hear about it for weeks."

Dad; "They were never excited about, you know, little cars or the usual games that little boys play. It's always been the competition, between one another or then in a team. Even eating, those boys would make even that a competition! I think that's the one thing that drives them forward. The competitiveness."

Jari Suorsa (Granlund's first coach); "Mikael stood out right away. Even if he was always the smallest on the team, he would stand out. He was surprisingly talented allround-player for being so young. It was remarkable. The basic skill-set was top class, in my opinion. I'd say the talent on that kid was visible right away."

Dad; "Mikael always played with older guys. I have to admit, there was a lot of criticism. The coach knew that everybody would not like a kid that small playing with older boys."

Mikael Ring (Granlund's junior coach); "We had an argument with the Finnish Ice Hockey Federation over this (Granlund playing with boys much older than him). We wrote a letter to the FIHF telling them exatcly why Granlund needs to be playing these games. Then, a little later, we played in a junior tournament. I arrived to the rink a little late and saw that our team was leading 2-0, and as I walked in, a man from the FIHF came to me and said; "Don't worry, Granlund will keep playing these games. He's scored both of your goals and we're less than 5 minutes in the game."

Suorsa; "All these Lacrosse-style goals and other stuff that's become kind of a "trademark" for Granlund (this was filmed wayyyy before the World Champs, by the way). He practiced for that lacrosse-move for a very, very long time. I said; "when you can do it in a game and you're sure it goes in, you can do it.". And of course, he went an did it."

MG; "This one game, I tried it again (Lacrosse-goal), but the goalie saved it easily. As I skated past him, he goes "Ha, I've seen that on YouTube, it's not gonna work!". It was kinda embarrassing but I laughed it off."

MG; "I was really excited when I first came here. Feels like I've grown a lot, I really do."

Nybondas; "Younger guys need to earn the respect of the veteran players. You can't come in here saying sorry and apogolizing about everything. You need to come in everyday and give your all to this organization. That's how you do it."

MG; "This feels like second home to me. It's always nice to come to the rink."

Nybondas; "It was..well, it was quite a mess last spring when the contract with IFK was announced." (there were some contractual problems, just some legal shit that I don't really know too much about)

Kid #1; "He's so fast, skilled and has great vision on ice, he can do it all." - Old guy; "Just a fantastic player." - Kid #2; "It's a shame he switched teams." (Granlund played for Kärpät before joining IFK, and they're interviewing people in their home game)

MG; "I'm not happy. Of course it was nice to play here but it's never fun when you can't get the win."

Then the guy doing the interview tries to imply that maybe Granlund, as a young player, was a bit nervous coming in to this game, which Granlund just simply denies and says it's always fun to play, no matter the rink.

Then, in the locker room; "Well yeah, it's pretty much filled with clichés always (the interviews). I know the clichés are tired and boring but I tend to use them anyway. But then there's the odd interview that doesn't even focus on hockey, and they're always a bit harder, but...yeah."

Huge, massive thanks to Juuso for the work on this. He can be found on Twitter at @Saikka07. Give him a follow, or at least a thanks.

Note: As pointed out on Twitter, First Round Bust posted these videos in July. You can find that HERE. I had not seen them, so perhaps some of the rest of you missed them, too. Also, I have no idea what they were saying, so maybe the translation will help. Apologies to FRB for not seeing them over there.

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