The Maple Leafs really don't have that many Finns. It's nice that the ones they do are pretty exceptional - for example, Kasperi Kapanen scored the overtime winner at the World Juniors, and Leo Komarov was an NHL All-Star - but that's all they've got when it comes to Finland.
So this isn't something we're going to see coming up too often, but for now, it's something to keep an eye on: at some point, Kapanen is going to have to join the Finnish army. Or the navy, or the air force. His call, but as a young, able-bodied Finnish man, he has to serve in the Finnish military for at least six months.
This is all being brought to attention today by Juha Hiitelä, a Finnish reporter who noted that Olli Maatta - Kapanen's countryman, two years his elder - is set to begin his own military service this off-season. That drew a list of other young Finns who still have to commit their time at some point over the next few years:
Other Finnish NHLers who have not yet done their service: Sasha Barkov, Rasmus Ristolainen, Teuvo Teräväinen, Erik Haula...— Juha Hiitelä (@jhiitela) March 15, 2016
Joonas Korpisalo, Teemu Pulkkinen, Kasperi Kapanen and Mikko Rantanen.— Juha Hiitelä (@jhiitela) March 15, 2016
Hiitelä brings up a good point in his following tweet:
This will be bigger issue in future years, when Finnish prospects are going to NHL at younger age than they used to be.— Juha Hiitelä (@jhiitela) March 15, 2016
Indeed. Kapanen is only 19, but he's already made his NHL debut; Komarov, meanwhile, didn't make the jump until he was 26. It's a very different world for young, talented Finns nowadays.
Fortunately, the six months don't have to be served all at once, and Kapanen will be able to split up his service over a couple of off-seasons. (Insert self-deprecating joke about him having plenty of time over the off-season because the Leafs will be golfing by April here. This joke requires you to ignore the fact that Kapanen will likely still be playing on the Marlies, and since they're the best team in the AHL, his season will probably be going on for a while yet. Self-burn and aggressively nerdy "well, actually" self-correction, aw yea.) He's also still got quite a few years to get it done, and it seems pretty unlikely Finland is going to go to war any time soon, so no worries here.
And maybe he can draw on Komarov for advice when the time comes for him to serve. After all, they're friends:
And Komarov has already completed his service. According to our own Katya Knappe, he was in the navy, and somewhere out there, there's a picture of him in uniform. The combined powers that be at PPP were unable to find it, though, so here's another picture of Komarov on a boat.
It's basically the same thing. Kapanen is gonna have a good time when he eventually goes.