Source of photo: weather
The 1st august…
Leafs are falling from the birches to the ground already. The rowan berries blossoms to a deep-red color. A lot of them mean a cold winter. The opposite means a mild winter. The fall is here with other words and that means for us hockey lovers that soon…very soon…it is face off time!
Friends turning into foes when each person brings forth the jersey of their favorite team, shaky referees enter the ice, the head coaches of each team including their side-kick will chew gum 24/7 many months ahead until the fat lady sings for the last time.
But Finland the off-season has been anything else than boring. It is hard pressure of everyone to make the real season interesting than the summer events.
The big news has been of course that Jokerit Helsinki, where Jarmo Kekäläinen was GM before he moved on to CBJ, is moving on to KHL next season. It has been until Tuesday a harsh time for the owner Hjallis Harkimo.
Yeah, he forgot just the little detail for the SM-liiga members before he talked to the KHL owners that he is going to move his team over to another league. The news bomb exploded before they knew anything and they were all quite shaken and disturbed. Someone could also guess that Harkimo hoped that he could sneak with this unnoticed just like that, but no. The members of the league raised their voices so loud that it echoed a quarter of the earth and demanded that Jokerit should be thrown out from the league so they couldn’t play their last year in Finland.
Lucky for Harkimo that they decided that Jokerit are allowed to play but have to pay about a fee 5-8 million € for compensation to the league. Probably he’d move on the team to KHL if they decided otherwise. But still it was a good decision, for the hockey fans. They are the great winners in this affair.
Every team will do anything to beat Jokerit. Every single hall will probably be sold-out until the ceiling when they come for visit. Others motivation is the usual that they are from the capitol, but now the motivation is higher because it is their last year of the league and Jokerit wish to show whole Finland that they are a team for bigger leagues.
Last year they were smashed to the ground in the quarterfinals by Rauman Lukko. Which was of course a huge disaster for the team. They expected more than that, especially when they ended up in the first place before the playoffs.
The other teams are haunting them….
The experienced columnist at Iltalehti (means Evening paper), Pekka Jalonen, did wrote in his last column that “when a player knows that he wont be a part of the KHL-team, he wont brake his leg, teeth or let his heart bleeding when it comes to tougher times at spring”.
Hard times for Head coach Lämsä to keep players motivated during the season after a couple of defeats, especially when he also knows that some of the players wont staying after season.
I was reflecting about the part how things can go when someone, in this case Harkimo thinks only about the money. He’s a businessman so he should only be concerned about the money. I don’t argue about that.
But hockey is something else somehow. Hockey is a sport. Not a bunch of panties for miss Nancy’s to sell. Money does a lot of course for the sport, but it is not all. Hockey is about ideas, passion and emotions. To be a part of something, a club or a fan organization that supports a club day in day out. Nothing a man in his position shouldn’t pee on. But he did and he do.
I can guarantee that if he just told the others before what was going on in his mind, that he’s going to move on the team to another league, they would also say “alright” from the very first beginning. A bit disappointed they would be of course, but no harder feelings they wouldn’t be like it is now. KHL is after all a huge step and challenge also a good affair for Finnish hockey.
But a businessman is a businessman and we can’t get away from that fact. It is their nature to act in the mist, even if they won’t have to.
To the last: the decision is made and they’ll remain in the league for one more year before it is time to take the flight to Vladivostok, Moscow, Zagreb, Prague etc.
I can also mention that some teams will begin an exhibition tournament already in Rauma. Soon also will the European Trophy tournament begin as well! Many hockey leaders have the idea to let the ET tournament grow to a European champions league of hockey. That would be cool if that happened. More about all this next week!
Wish you my dear reader a nice weekend! Watch this video. It is some kind of “thank you for all these years and good luck” video of Jokerit.
Cheerio! Hockey lovers!
/Arto Palovaara, from Arena kalevala, betsafe
Connecting the worldwide hockey family closer to each other by telling stories from the Finnish SM-liiga and national teams.