Junior Worlds: Are the Finns and Swedes no longer metal?

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Topi Niemela

EDMONTON- As their northern European rivals Finland and Sweden prepared to face off in the semi-finals of the world juniors, something very disturbing happened: young people today don’t seem to like heavy metal.

Starting in Finland, hockey and metal have a great history together: Jere Lehtinen and Janne Niinimaa once tried to add Slayer to the Dallas Stars playlist only to see Mike Modano throw the CD across the room. Toni Lydman hung out with Mastodon, while Tuukka Rask got a Metallica drum set when he played his 500th game for the Bruins.

Last year at the world juniors, Finnish coach Antti Pennanen showed his players a pump video on Children of Bodom, Espoo’s legendary melodic death metal band, before the bronze medal match, which they ended up winning.

“Jere Lehtinen (who worked for the national program) is a big fan of Children of Bodom and that’s one of the reasons we created the video,” Pennanen said. “I had the pleasure of seeing these guys after the tournament and that was huge for me.”

But it looks like next-gen isn’t quite as thrash-happy.

“I don’t know heavy, heavy metal,” Toronto Maple Leafs pick Roni Hirvonen said. “We like good rock like AC/DC…The Children of Bodom have some good songs. I think that’s changed. We listen to a lot of different styles of music. I like rock, hip-hop and country.”

Fellow Leafs prospect Topi Niemela struck a similar chord: He’s a fan of Finnish rap and pop music and notes that the locker room playlist is quite varied.

“There are all types of music,” Niemela said. “On match days it’s more rock music because it’s a match and you have to be ready.”

For Pennanen, who played for HPK’s junior program in the late 1990s and has coached various age groups (including Liiga) over the past decade plus, he has definitely seen a change away from the arts. dark in the room.

“I think so,” he said. “But sometimes I heard Disturbed in the dressing room so that’s good for me, I like that kind of music. And one of my favorites of course is Metallica.”

Simon Edvinson

Simon Edvinson

In the Swedish locker room, it’s the same thing. The city of Gothenburg is known as the mecca of melodic death metal, but its best young hockey players no longer headbang to At the Gates or In Flames. While Vegas Golden Knights guard Robin Lehner has used In Flames iconography on his masks for years, that reverence for heavy metal doesn’t extend to Boston Bruins prospect Fabian Lysell or Red’s pick. Detroit Wings Simon Edvinsson, both Gothenburg natives.

“I didn’t listen to it much,” Edvinsson said. “Maybe my parents did.”

Ouch. This one hurts a little. Meanwhile, Lysell actually had the opposite experience as a child.

“My parents aren’t the biggest fans of it, so I haven’t heard much about it,” he said. “I prefer hip-hop and pop.”

Lysell said the Swedish dressing room tends to be driven by a mix of hip-hop, house and pop music, while citing rapper Einar (a megastar in Sweden who was murdered in 2021) as one of his personal favourites.

However, the Swedes still have their famous victory song – the metal anthem “En For Alla For En”, a song that has been used for years and has attracted fans from across the international hockey community.

“Good, I like this song,” Lysell said. “I hope you hear it (today) too.

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