Photo by Candace Riley, © 2011, All Rights Reserved.
Teemu Hartikainen is up to his old tricks in Oklahoma City - through three games, he's taken 9 shots on goal and scored once on the power play. By all accounts he looks quicker as well, the same quickness he demonstrated in Oilers' training camp in September. It might be because of the weight he's taken off. "I’m 207 now. I think I’ve lost 15 pounds...Changed my eating habits. Stopped drinking coca-cola."
He lost 15 pounds, but added even more lean muscle to an already impressive frame. (NSFW in some offices). The only flaw in Hartikainen's game, or at least the primary target for his critics has always been his skating ability, and if less weight with more muscle mass helps to correct that, it's only a matter of time before he's a regular in Edmonton. Lowetide believes Hartikainen will be called up as an injury replacement for Darcy Hordichuk if Sam Gagner and Ben Eager aren't ready to go. Given the spate of injuries the Oilers have already suffered, if Hartikainen gets his shot, he may not see Oklahoma City again.
Last week, Eric Rodgers tweeted a picture of Teemu Hartikainen wearing his new number, 10, for the Oklahoma City Barons. Hartikainen wore #35 last season, but ceded it to veteran goaltender Yann Danis for the 2011-12 season. In search of a new number, Teemu settled on an old friend, #10, a number he used during his time on Finland's Under-16 and Under-18 National Teams.
When I posted the picture to The Copper & Blue Facebook page, longtime 'Sphere member Andy Grabia wrote "Whoa. Esa 2.0" on the C&B Wall.
Esa 2.0, indeed. Teemu's inspiration for the #10 is indeed his countryman Tikkanen, and in my opinion, Hartikainen does the #10 proud. I'm glad Hartikainen isn't under the impression that the only way to honor an idol and great player is to hang his number from the rafters and never allow it to see the ice again.
Of course, both #10 and #35 are already in use by the big club, so Hartikainen's #56 is reserved for him if he does get the call. He's worn #10, #26, #25 and #35 in his International and SM-Liiga play, so the number watch will start when he begins the year in Edmonton next season.
Special thanks to Candace Riley for the use of her photo of Teemu from the Barons' home opener.