Helminen will replace Jussi Ahokas, who coached the team for three seasons and reportedly agreed to coach a club team in the top Finnish league next season.
The 54-year-old is a legend in his country and was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2012. He played 331 games for the Finnish men’s national team between 1983 and 2002 including six Olympic Winter Games and eleven IIHF World Championships. He still holds the record for the most international games played and, shared with fellow countrymen Teemu Selanne, for the most Olympic ice hockey tournaments played.
He played in Finland’s top league for his hometown club Ilves Tampere for 16 years before ending his player career in 2008 at age 44, plus seven seasons for Swedish club Malmo in between.
After finishing his career as a player he started as an assistant coach with his long-time club Ilves Tampere in 2010 and was the team’s head coach during the 2012/2013 season. During his time in Tampere he also joined the Finnish U20 national team first for two years as an assistant coach, then as a head coach at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship where Finland finished in fourth place.
In 2013 Helminen moved to the KHL as an assistant coach first for Ari-Pekka Selin at Barys Astana, then for Kari Heikkila at Dinamo Riga and currently at Jokerit Helsinki where he assisted first Jukka Jalonen and since this season Lauri Marjamaki. He will start his new job with the U20 national team in May.
“This is a fantastic job, it’s great to work with young players. At that stage hockey is fresh and fast-paced. It’s great to be part of their journey,” Helminen said.
He will be assisted by Tommi Miettinen, Erik Hamalainen, Ari Moisanen and Jukka Varmanen.
Helminen will also join the coaching staff of the men’s national team as an assistant coach at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
At the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship defending champion Finland will play Switzerland, Sweden, Slovakia and Kazakhstan in Group A in Trinec during the preliminary round. The tournament will take place next winter in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic.