And now for something completely different...
While we like to focus most of our time extolling the virtues of Kyle Okposo, when covering a professional team you often acquire some information that you're not quite sure what to do with. Such an experience happened to this author twice on Sunday while we were loitering in the players' dressing room. Rather than just keeping these tidbits to ourselves, we figured we'd share them with the world. There aren't too many human interest stories floating around the Islanders of late, so here's a little insight into the lives of two of the friendliest men on the team. We realize this might not be for everyone, so please excuse us this time for going a bit off course, if you will.
Sean Bergenheim, being of Finnish nationality, loves car racing. It's in the Finn's blood, apparently. According to television spectator figures, Formula 1 is the most popular sport in his homeland. Over 20% of the Finnish population (5+ million) watch the races on TV.
Knowing that, we asked Sean about his particular love for Formula 1 and about his F1 driving experience a few years ago.
Our chat began very simply just by asking him who he was a fan of, Kimi Raikkonen or Heikki Kovalainen. Formula 1 fans will recognize the names, but basically they are the two most prominent Finns in racing today. He stated in no uncertain terms that he was a Kimi fan but reminded me that "The Kimster" is not competing in F1 this season.
With that in mind, we asked him if he would transfer his allegiance to his other countryman, Kovalainen, this year. Apparently not, saying he would likely root for Nico Rosberg, a young German driver whom he mentioned is part Finnish. Alas, this author had overlooked the Finnish connection in Rosberg, whose father we quickly recalled was the famous former champion Keke Rosberg.
Sean went on to tell us that he did not like the direction F1 is currently going (though he didn't elaborate) and mentioned a few drivers he disliked. He also said he would root for recently unretired 7-time champion Michael Schumacher just for nostalgic reasons and the fact that he likes Team Mercedes (Schumacher's current racing team).
Asked if he had seen this weekend's race (he had not), we offered one more driver for him to consider, Sebastian Vettel. Sean believed that Vettel is an up-and-coming personality in his sport (much in the way Islanders fans consider 'Bergie'). He agreed and told me he liked Mr. Vettel very much.
Finally, we knew Sean had driven an F1 car in the past (not competitively, of course), and we erroneously thought it was Kimi Raikkonen's. It turned out to be Mika Salo's, a name this author was somewhat unfamiliar with. He told us of Salo's love for hockey, which was a further connection between the two men.
Sean's opinions were nice to hear, he was overly pleasant, and it was refreshing to have a player speak passionately on a subject completely unrelated to professional hockey.
On the same night, we also had a few minutes alone with Matt Martin. Not the similarly-named car driver, but this guy. Have a good look at that picture, because the hair is now gone. He told us he had shaved his head for St. Baldrick's Day, a terrific cause.
Unfortunately, almost everyone has had a family member touched by cancer, and we urge you to take a look at their website to see if you can join in their fight. This is the site, and we thanked Matt for his effort. We wished the 20 year-old the best of luck and success in the future.