HELSINKI – Former Jokerit and Team Finland player Keijo Sailynoja is the new CEO of Jokerit Helsinki of the Finnish SM-liiga.
Sailynoja, 38, joins the hockey club after a few years in the banking world, as bank director of Sampo Pankki in Helsinki. He has also served as the chairman of the Finnish Hockey Players’ Association, but will step down from that position.
“The return to Jokerit is a great opportunity,” Sailynoja said in an interview on the club’s website.
“Now I will have to see what the situation is, and after that we’ll create some strategic guidelines. Being responsible for both the finances and the hockey operations, I need to have a clear vision of where we want to go,” he said.
Former CEO Matti Virmanen will take a new position as director of hockey operations, in charge of scouting and building the team, together with Sailynoja.
Jokerit chairman Harry Harkimo says he made up his mind about the changes this spring.
“We’ve had quite a few imported players in the past years, and many of them have been sub-par. We need to get better at that and we have to be able to build a team that will win,” he said.
“In my opinion, the CEO cannot be somebody who’s never been involved with sports. It’s not enough to have good business credentials. I don’t think that’s a good base for success,” he said.
Sailynoja represented Team Finland in two World Championships and the Albertville Olympics in 1992. He won four Finnish titles and two European titles with Jokerit in the 1990s. He retired in 2001.