Thrown together as billet-mates three years ago, the lively blueliner [and Calgary Flames prospect Juuso Valimaki] and the mammoth centreman [Michael Rasmussen] became the closest of pals. Now, even as their hockey fortunes have carried them to opposite sides of continent, they keep daily tabs on each other’s progress, offering bursts of encouragement.
When Valimaki made his debut last week at Vancouver, Rasmussen reached out with good luck messages.
“He texted me before the game and told me he’s really proud of me,” Valimaki said. “He said we’ve come a long way from the first year together. Now we’re both here (in the NHL), what we’ve talked about for a long time.”
The day of the Red Wings’ season-opener, Valimaki returned the favour, sending a batch of pep texts in Rasmussen’s direction.
In other words, despite two time zones and 3,000 kilometres separating them, despite new addresses – Valimaki is stationed in the Flames’ dressing room between goalies Mike Smith and David Rittich, while Rasmussen perches between Frans Nielsen and Anthony Mantha at Red Wings headquarters – they remain close.
Rasmussen is fully abreast of Valimaki’s accomplishment of barging his way onto Calgary’s blueline as a newcomer.
“Yeah, it was unreal,” he told The Athletic‘s Max Bultman in Detroit. “He had a lot of competition. It’s pretty cool to see him there. It was a tough situation for him. He really battled hard, played really good hockey.