Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2011, 15

Tukka Rask and the Stanley Cup arriving in Savonlinna, Finland.
Tukka Rask and the Stanley Cup arriving in Savonlinna, Finland. (Howie Borrow/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Leaving Zdeno Chara and Slovakia, the Stanley Cup was driven some three hours away to Vienna, and from there, it was flown to Helsinki. In the airport of Finland's capital and largest city, Boston Bruins' netminder Tuukka Rask excitedly waited for his day – July 24 – with the Stanley Cup.

Although he made his NHL debut with the Bruins in 2007-08, he really came to the fore in 2009-10, playing 45 games for Boston and compiling a miniscule goals-against average of 1.97 and a staggering save percentage of .931. This past season, Rask had a 2.67 goals-against average and a fine save percentage of .918.

The Stanley Cup arrived, polished and gleaming, and Tuukka met with the media and posed for some photos with his just reward. And then, it was a bus ride of 4½ hours (broken up by a stop for food half way) on the way to his Finnish home in Savonlinna, Finland.

Tuukka Rask and the Stanley Cup greeted by local minor hockey players outside Talvisalon Jaahalli arena.
Tuukka Rask and the Stanley Cup greeted by local minor hockey players outside Talvisalon Jaahalli arena. (Howie Borrow/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Savonlinna is a charming town in the southeast of Finland, smack dab in the middle of the Saimaa lake region. The town is built on a chain of islands located throughout a number of large lakes.

Arriving in his hometown, Rask took the Stanley Cup directly to Talvisalon Jaahalli, the arena in Savonlinna. As Tuukka approached the rink, he was greeted by a colour guard of hockey-playing youngsters who stood in parallel lines holding their sticks in the air so the local hero and his treasure could walk beneath.

On the stage outside, a band was playing, and the parking lot was filled with a great number of local residents, with an especially large percentage of kids from the town's local hockey program, one from which Tuukka Rask once graduated. Tuukka was interviewed on the stage, delighting all those present. Rask is a remarkably poised and personable for a 24-year-old NHL veteran.

Tuukka Rask and his girlfriend taking Lord Stanley for a ride in Savonlinna.
Tuukka Rask and his girlfriend taking Lord Stanley for a ride in Savonlinna. (Howie Borrow/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Back on the bus, Tuukka and the Cup stopped at Savonlinna's extraordinary castle. Built in 1475 to help repel Russian adversaries, it has stood majestically in the town for 536 years. Although the stop lasted but 15 minutes, Tuukka had some wonderful pictures taken with the Stanley Cup at the historic site.

The bus then made its way to the Rask family home. Friends and family alike greeted Tuukka and the trophy and enjoyed food and photos over the course of two hours.

There was a special Finnish treat planned for that evening. Tuukka and his friends had rented a luxury villa on Lake Saimaa, just outside Savonlinna. Tolvanhelmi featured a smoke sauna, a regular sauna, a hot tub and a gazebo in which a jukebox carried hits of the past three decades as well as karaoke equipment. Well-stocked with food and beverages, the Stanley Cup celebration really began in earnest.

Tuukka Rask and the Stanley Cup with Lake Saimaa in the background.
Tuukka Rask and the Stanley Cup with Lake Saimaa in the background. (Phil Pritchard/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The party relaxed in the sauna, and when they had had enough heat, refreshed themselves by jumping into Lake Saimaa. The exercise took place over and over again in fine Finnish tradition.

After the sauna, the group took part in karaoke, laughing hysterically as each took turns in their own version of 'Finland's Got Talent.' The songs were, for the most part, Finnish versions of North American hits, so while the music was familiar, the lyrics had to be performed in Finnish. Oh my!

Tuukka's victory day came to an end, but it was a terrific finish for a decidedly Finnish celebration.

* * *

The Stanley Cup Journal picks up again on Tuesday when we visit Shawn Thornton in Oshawa, Ontario.
Tuukka Rask and the Stanley Cup relaxing in the hot tub.
Tuukka Rask and the Stanley Cup relaxing in the hot tub. (Phil Pritchard/Hockey Hall of Fame)

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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