Countrymen Patrik Laine and Aleksander Barkov will face-off and try to defeat one another Thursday night when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Florida Panthers. The two will be foes today, but they more often spend time as teammates.
Not in hockey, of course, but in video games. The 19-year-old Laine talked to Florida-Sentinel reporter Matthew DeFranks about his gaming partner, 22-year-old Barkov. Laine said the two often play Call of Duty together, and that it doesn’t take much planning to set a game up.
“I don’t usually even have to shoot him a text,” Laine told DeFranks. “He’s always online.”
The two are separated by three years and hadn’t been teammates back in Finland, though they both came out of Tappara Tampere. DeFranks notes they did play together for their country at last year’s World Cup and struck up a friendship.
“He was definitely one of my idols when I was playing juniors and he was playing with the pro league team,” Laine said. “Still, he’s one of my idols. He’s a really good player and he’s going to be one of the best centremen in the league for sure. He already is.”
Barkov was the second overall pick of the 2013 draft and Laine followed at No. 2 in 2016. Whereas Barkov is rising as one of the top two-way centres in the league, Laine is on the rise as an elite goal scorer. Just recently he scored his 50th career goal, making him the third-fastest player to hit the milestone since 2005-06, behind only Alex Ovechkin and Auston Matthews.
Ah, yes. But who’s better at Call of Duty?