Picture credit to Naz Brown

I recently received a great message from Jason Cotsmire, a Long Island, NY native who now lives in Bangkok, Thailand, about a rather interesting sighting at his local arena these days: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya.

It turns out that while other NHL players are trying to stay sharp by playing in a variety of European Leagues, Oduya wanted to take a little vacation, but still keep his skills sharp – Thailand was his solution. Here’s how Oduya’s participation there came to pass, from Cotsmire:

It was totally out of the blue and something I never would have believed, but I got it directly from his best buddy who joined him on the trip. Apparently they were celebrating his buddy’s birthday when the subject of the lockout came up and Johnny mentioned that if it kept on going, he was heading to Thailand for a vacation. [name redacted] told him he should check out if there was hockey there so he could still get some skates in and stay in shape…slightly kidding.  Johnny picked up his iPhone did a quick search and came upon www.flyingfarangs.com. Not only was there hockey here but he was going to be here during the dates of our annual tournament.

The tournament Cotsmire is referring to is The Land of Smiles ice hockey classic, “an annual mens league competition held in Bangkok to help raise money for hockey in Thailand and slum kids/communities in Bangkok through The Mercy Center.”

It was originally a four-team event that’s in its 18th version, and now features 60 men’s league teams from around the world. There’s a “rec” division – good players, with an emphasis on the beer and fun – and an “open” division, for those who think they still may have a pro shot.

Something else cool to note: this year Vesa Toskala participated in the event as a forward with a Finnish team, and previous tournaments have seen Troy Crowder and Neal Broten get involved.

More on the tournament from Jason before we resume:

Over the years, we have had teams consistently attend from countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and the UAE. Most of these teams are made up of expat Canadians/Americans and Europeans currently living/working in those respective countries. Additionally as the tournament became more well known, we’ve had teams from Russia, Switzerland, Finland, Serbia, Latvia, Canada and the USA come out and join us as well.

Back to Oduya’s story, and how he ended up following through:

He contacted the organizer of the tournament and things just went into full affect from there.  When we first heard he was coming, many of the guys in Bangkok figured that one of our Swedish guys knew him or knew someone that knew him…Nope, turns out it was just totally by circumstance that it all came together. Johnny arrived Friday morning in Bangkok, went to a seaside resort for a few days and we had a small morning skate with him on the Monday of the tournament week followed by Tuesday night shinny before the tourney to get him accustomed to his new teammates.  Let’s just say it was a surreal experience to be playing with a current NHLer. Of course Johnny played with our Open Division Bangkok team and led them to the Championship of our own tournament for the first time ever.

Picture credit to Naz Brown

Here’s the winning squad:

Oduya gave some quotes to the Bangkok Post about his experience there.

On the vacation destination that is Thailand:

“I wanted to come back to Thailand for a while. It is a big holiday spot for Swedish people to go when it gets colder back home.”

On the event, from the Bangkok Post:

“I didn’t know if it would be a good idea but once we started looking into it a bit more we got more excited. I didn’t know that it would end up anything like this, this is a much bigger venue than anything I thought I would be part of.”

“The facilities here are unbelievable for being in a mall in a tropical paradise,” he said with a chuckle at the rink at Rama IX.

And finally from the Bangkok Post, on surprising people:

“In the beginning, the first day, I showed up to practice and it was more like ‘oh you are here, we didn’t really think you were going to show up’,” he said. “They thought it was all talk. I hope they think it’s been fun and as long as everybody has a good time I’m happy with that.”

To me, this is perfection. It’s just the ideal way to use the lockout – see somewhere new, do something cool, make an effort to stay on your skates and not get too rusty. And in the middle of your career, it’s not the worst thing in the world to let your body heal up with a nice break from seriously competitive hockey, especially if the NHL resumes play sometime this season.

You can check out the Flying Farangs website here, and their Facebook page here.

Comments (21)

  1. Oduya plays for Chicago not Winnipeg.

    • There is no mention of Winnepeg anywhere on this thread.

      • Article opens with: “I recently received a great message from Jason Cotsmire, a Long Island, NY native who now lives in Bangkok, Thailand, about a rather interesting sighting at his local arena these days: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya.”

        you’re welcome, Zach

  2. Wow. I’ve played in Bangkok at the tournament mentioned. I lived in Tokyo for over a year, and the team I played on there went to the tournament each year, at that time it was basically a REALLY well organized beer-league level event. I played in 2000, and it had about 3 divisions with about 4 or 5 teams in each. It was also on the 5th floor of a shopping mall (not as fancy as you’re envisioning).

    There were some good players there that had played junior, college or minor pro, but mostly it was a middle aged men tournament, so those guys had lost a step or two while gaining a few pounds. The partying, however, was literally unbelievable. Still some of the craziest times I’ve ever had.

  3. This is all kinds of awesome. Oduya is doing the lockout the right way.

  4. Oduya wins the lockout.

  5. This story is awesome all the way around.

    If I remember correctly, “farang” is slang for “foreigner”. Kind of an insult, based on the word for Frenchman, but now used by any foreigner who lives over there with a laugh.

  6. Oduya is probably a pedophile.

  7. There is a new rink at Grand Central Mall Rama IX. on the 7th floor. The old rink is at Imperial Samrong Mall on the 5th floor. There were so many teams this year that they split the games between the two rinks. For the “open” division, which Oduya was playing in, all the games were at Rama IX.

  8. I’ve played tournaments all over Asia and Bangkok is by far the wildest far east experience. Mongolia is right up there too but for completely different reasons. but both are just absolutely mind blowing, surreal experiences. A group of guys from Shanghai and Beijing also played a tournament in North Korea a couple years ago if you can imagine that.

    It’s not quite Bangkok, but we’ve got hockey four nights a week in Shanghai and some guaranteed wild times. Any NHLers reading this (or anyone else traveling or living in Shanghai) and looking for a place to visit and get some skating in at the same time are more than welcome to join!

  9. Quack. Quack. Quack.

  10. Interesting stuff! Hope he enjoyed his Thailand stint!

  11. I have just favorited your post because it’s so helpful. I’m going to recommend it to my online friends as well. They are going to love this website! Thanks again.

  12. Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog jump out. Please let me know where you got your design. With thanks|

  13. Very very good day, this is the seriously superb web site, I’ve plummeting in adore studying many on the posts and threads contained after the location, sustain the awesome work as well as hope to learn a lot more exciting content articles from some time to come.

  14. I’m more than happy to find this site. I want to to thank you for
    ones time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely
    loved every bit of it and i also have you book-marked to check out new information on your website.

  15. Hey! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new apple iphone!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Carry on the excellent work!

  16. My spouse and I stumbled over here from a different page and thought I might check things out.
    I like what I ssee sso now i’m following you. Look forward
    to looking at your web page yet again.

  17. Incredible points. Greaat arguments. Keep up the
    amazing work.

  18. I really like it whenever people come together and share opinions.
    Great blog, keep it up!

  19. Hello to every body, it’s my first visit of this website;
    this website carries remarkable and in fact fine material for visitors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *