Robbed of a family Stanley Cup moment last year, the Lehkonens get a do-over

The FOMO was real. Ismo Lehkonen lived it last year during the Stanley Cup Final.

The Finnish broadcast analyst made the long journey to cover the Final on-site three years previously, but his trip was canceled last season – of course, the year his son Artturi and the Montreal Canadiens made a surprise run.

Add it to the list of experiences robbed by the pandemic over the last two years.

But Lehkonen is back, and so is Artturi, this time with the Colorado Avalanche, as a marquee trade deadline acquisition paying dividends. It’s one of the rare times in hockey history that a father gets paid to watch his son chase a Stanley Cup in-person and then break down his game on national network YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Co.

“It’s like a dream, it’s a hell of a dream,” Lehkonen said Tuesday at Media Day to kick off the Final. “Last season, I didn’t have a chance to show up there. I wanted to, but with COVID restrictions, it wasn’t easy to travel. Now, finally, I’m here. A second chance.”

That didn’t look like it was going to be the case this year, particularly in Montreal as the Canadiens went from last year’s Final to 32nd place in the span of one season. Artturi’s name had swirled in trade rumors, but he was still a critical piece to their future success. That made it a surprise to Lehkonen that Artturi was traded on deadline day.  

GM Joe Sakic finally broke down his Montreal counterpart, Kent Hughes, by sending first-round prospect Justin Barron and a 2024 second-round pick for Artturi.

“A little bit shocked, you never know,” Lehkonen said. “But then I realized what kind of team he is going to and what kind of style they play and the skill level. It’s a real good situation. Everyone wants to win and their skill level, how they handle the puck is so awesome, everyone is on the same page with the same mission.”

Lehkonen said Artturi called him one week after the trade and said: “I love it here. Now it’s on me.” 

He’s delivered in just about every way imaginable. For all the speculation about the Avs’ interest in then-Flyers captain Claude Giroux, Artturi’s hockey sense and defensive commitment seem to be a better stylistic fit. He’s helped add conscience to a high-flying Colorado team. The Avs are more difficult to play against in their own end with Artturi. He’s also contributed with some huge moments offensively, netting six goals and 11 points in 14 postseason games, including scoring the conference-clinching goal for the second year in a row.

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