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Morning Flurries: Mikko Rantanen and inclusivity in hockey

Colorado Avalanche v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

For those who regularly watch the Colorado Avalanche, it’s no huge surprise that he’s a big deal.

But finally, the rest of the league seems to be catching up in properly appreciating Mikko Rantanen.

As the Finnish forward powers through the season, he’s joined his linemates on Colorado’s top trio as the subjects of article after article documenting their dominance.

Just this week, there was yet another one; check out this look by the Associated Press at how Rantanen combined with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog to make up the best top line in the NHL. [via Fox Sports]

It’s also worth pointing out, by the way, that the attention has earned Rantanen a reward. This week, he was tapped as the third star for the NHL. [Mile High Hockey]

Speaking of Finns, we’ve got some fun updates from the Cats over in Finland!

We’ve also got a slightly hilarious (for us more so than them) piece to share on how the Edmonton Oilers may be about to flub another high draft pick. [NHL on NBC]

Normally I’d go into all kinds of other fun links, but I wanted to highlight a couple of things to kick off this week.

For starters, our hearts and our thoughts go out, as a site, to the people of Pittsburgh and the Tree of Life synagogue after the events of this weekend.

It certainly wasn’t a ‘senseless’ act of violence. If you know a member of the Jewish community, particularly if they’re either easily-identifiable as ethnically Jewish or as a practicing member of the faith, chances are they can tell you that they’ve seen this coming. For the last two years, the question hasn’t been if a synagogue would be the next location targeted in acts of thinly-encouraged violence; it’s been when it would ultimately happen. It’s heartbreaking to say, but it wasn’t a surprise and it made perfect sense.

If you’d like to help support the members of the Pittsburgh community, here’s a list of resources. [Pensburgh]

And if you’d like to help in an intangible way, take it from someone who is very visibly ethnically Jewish (with a nice, stereotypical Jewish surname to boot): take a look at the type of rhetoric you spread. If you casually spread the very clearly unfounded conspiracy theories that Jewish voices of influence have been working to take down the US government or smuggle terrorists in, stop it. If you jokingly (or not-jokingly) finger-point at George Soros as the person stirring up violence in our nation, stop it. If you’ve found yourself commenting that Harvey Weinstein and his fellow Hollywood execs are conveniently Jewish when you’re discussing the #MeToo movement, stop it. We’ve read this story before — and it didn’t end super well last time. Your best way to prevent this kind of stuff is to prevent the spread of hate. Do good, friends.

And finally, a high note to end on:

USA Hockey’s U18 players got together and made colorful water bottles as sensory objects, then skated out to a quiet, dimmed arena — all in the name of providing an inclusive hockey viewing experience for those with sensory processing disorders, including many on the autism spectrum.

Sensory processing disorder is best explained as a malfunction in an individual’s nervous system that affects the way they process stimulation. Whether it affects hearing, vision, touch, or a combination of senses, it can make the bright, flashing lights and loud music of a hockey game too much to bear.

It’s estimated that at least three-quarters of all individuals on the autism spectrum deal with some kind of sensory processing disorder, but uniquely enough the inverse isn’t the case. As many as 1 in 20 children deal with some kind of sensory processing disorder, and post-concussion symptoms can strongly correlate to SPD, as well. So it’s a wide-ranging and fairly common condition — yet one that makes hockey games incredibly hard for many to attend.

Luckily, this U18 game wasn’t the only sensory-friendly opportunity we’ve seen for hockey viewing this year. After the Cleveland Cavaliers became the first pro sports arena in North America to become ‘sensory inclusive’ and certified as such, a handful of other stadiums and arenas — including Gila River Arena in Arizona and PNC Arena in North Carolina — have followed suit.

From training staff to properly assess and assist in a sensory-overload situation to bags full of soundproof headphones, verbal cue cards, and fidget spinners available to check out on the concourse, it’s the kind of initiative that teams should be looking more towards in the future.