GUEST POST: Arto Palovaara – Jokerit, And Their Chance In The KHL
I know that I have pointed out things, let us call them facts, about the KHL and clubs’ conduct of behavior towards coaches and players. It might sound like I’m complaining, but it is not that, it is just facts, nothing else. But finally I hear/read a voice that says something else than what I have myself seen, heard and read about.
Roman Rotenberg, one of the most powerful men behind the KHL project among other things says following to the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti:
“I have a feeling that we cannot at this moment compete with NHL, only keep building the infrastructure”
He also says that the way they can compete with NHL is great arenas and a greater fan base.
About the Lev Praha (Prague) story that they draw themselves out too quick, and Jokerit’s appearance he’s not worried about the KHL.
“I am not worried about KHL, because it’s a league that will evolve. A great thing is the Jokerit-project. Jokerit is a well-known team in Europe, a great brand,” says Roman.
Well said, Roman. Words we all wanted to hear, about a working infrastructure around the league. Hopefully the team presidents hear his words, which make them take that necessary responsibility for their teams and towards the league itself.
I have myself been thinking about Jokerit and I took a closer look at the squad recently. It’s hard of course to value and point out a direction. It will be tough, that’s clear, and that’s enough for now.
Riku Helenius and Henrik Karlsson: Two good goalies with great experiences, but they need to step up 1-2 levels to make this KHL-season something really good. Must be able to shut the games and bring home valuable points for the team.
On the forward and defender side I count some of the more experienced players and some talents as well.
Niklas Hagman, Steve Moses, Tom Mäki, Riku Hahl, Niko Kapanen, Petr Koukal,
Tommi Huhtala, Linus Omark, John Harju, Kurtis McLean, Severi Sillanpää, Juhamatti Aaltonen.
Oskari Korpikari, Ossi Väänänen, Jere Karalahti, Ryan Gunderson, Ville Lajunen, Atte Ohtamaa, Topi Jaakola.
Not bad players at all as you can see, most of them could take a place in any team in DEL, NLA, Liiga or SHL, but they should need 1-3 players more of real quality. I’m not sure what Jari Kurri, the GM, is thinking about that, and how much he is prepared to spend money on players, or if he will take this year as a tryout-year with these players and then do something.
Nonetheless, the KHL is something else than these four leagues in Europe I counted above. It requires players of really high level at some point, like Medveščak signing Jonathan Cheechoo last year – that kind of player (Editors note: Cheechoo is signed for Dynamo Minsk 2014-15).
EDITOR'S NOTE: Since the time of writing, the team has added forwards Juhamatti Aaltonen and Topi Jaakola to the roster. Aaltonen adds a veteran scoring presence while Jaakola is a reliable and experienced defender.
To the last, I asked a source who knows Teemu Selänne quite well, on if he’s about to join Jokerit and make a comeback. I got the answer: that won’t happen, pretty much 100% a clear no.
Well, we all know how the business works; a no can be turned to a yes. Even if it becomes a yes from Selänne’s part, I’m not so sure that he will be that much help on the ice anymore. He had already a fantastic career; he had a fantastic start of to his career in Jokerit before he went to the NHL, and became a legend in Winnipeg and Anaheim, and a fantastic ending to his career in the Olympics in Sochi. I think that’s good enough.
As I mentioned, it is hard to say now at the moment how it will go for Jokerit, but I think their chance, a realistic such is to have great team discipline, an order that everyone follows to its very last point 24/7, in every little detail in this puzzle.
Jokerit’s whole squad http://www.jokerit.com/joukkue