HELSINKI – The Finnish Ice Hockey Association found a successor of national coach Jukka Jalonen, who left the national team after five years to assume his new job at the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg.
Erkka Westerlund will coach the Finnish national team in the 2013/2014 season and Kari Jalonen will take over for the two years after.
“With Jalonen we get an experienced coach to lead the men’s national team who can bring Finnish ice hockey a step forward,” said Kalervo Kummola, President of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association and an IIHF Vice President. “I’m glad that things were solved quickly. Now everyone can focus on the work ahead in the upcoming Olympic year
For Westerlund it will be the second term as national coach. The 56-year-old was working for the association from 2001 to 2007, two years as head coach of the U20 national team, one year as assistant coach for the men’s national team followed by three years as head coach. He led the Finns to an Olympic silver medal in 2006 and to World Championship silver in 2007 and bronze in 2006.
In between he was coaching Jokerit Helsinki for two years.
Westerlund will coach the national team at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and in exhibition games in the upcoming season.
Jalonen will take over as of June 2014 and signed a two-year contract valid until the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
“It’s fantastic to coach the men’s national team. It’s the flagship of Finnish ice hockey. It’s definitely a great honour to be appointed,” said Jalonen.
Kari Jalonen had most experiences for the Lions as a player. He played in six World Championships and one Canada Cup and was inducted into the Finnish Hall of Fame in 2000.
The 53-year-old was a head coach in the Finnish top league and led Kärpät Oulu to three and TPS Turku to one national championship. He won the Kalevi Numminen Trophy for the SM-liiga Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2007.
In the last two years he has been the head coach of KHL team Torpedo Nizhni Novgorod.