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Finnish coach or foreign coach?

November 9, 2006
The debate is raging right now in the Finnish men’s national hockey program right now about the selection of the next coach of Team Finland. Erkka Westerlund will be stepping down as head of coach of the Lions to focus on other things.
The rumours are flying as of this morning that Canadian Doug Shedden, who is the current head coach of the Finnish League’s Jokerit, will be named by Finnish Hockey chief Kalervo Kummola. Another hot favourite is Jukka Jalonen who is the current head coach of 2005-2006 Finnish League champions, HPK of Hämeenlinna.
The naming of a foreign-born coach could be a sore point for a lot of Finnish hockey fans, but it is not necessarily a bad thing. The Finnish men’s team has not won a major championship (Olympic or World) since 1995 – when they had – a Swedish-born coach in the form of Curt Lindström. Maybe a different perspective is what the men’s program needs to go all the way.
On the other hand, the Finnish hockey program is stacked with talented coaches… but… I think a different perspective is what the men’s program needs at this point. And it just might work.
Update November 10: This link is in Finnish –, but presents more background on the rumours flying around at the moment. Head of the Finnish Hockey Federation, Kalervo Kummola has quashed all of these rumours and has criticized the press for jumping on an issue that has yet to be decided. Doug Shedden has said that the job would be very interesting, but he didn’t add anything to the hulabaloo on the issue. Jukka Jalonen commented yesterday that he is not concerned about the nationality of the head coach of the Finnish team – as long as he can do the job. Another name that came up yesterday was Canadian Mike Keenan, who has coached the Canadian national team and several NHL teams in the past, including the New York Rangers. In a telephone interview with YLE Sports, he praised the Finns and said that the results Finland has posted in the past few years are worth noting…. So as I mentioned before – maybe it will take a different (=foreign) perspective on the Finnish team’s game to push them to the heights they have been seeking for so long.
The new head coach of the Finnish men’s national team will be named in early December.
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