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And the head coach’s hat goes to… A Canadian

November 16, 2006
Yesterday Kalervo Kummola and Co. announced that Doug Shedden and Jukka Jalonen will take the reins of the Finnish men’s national hockey team from Erkka Westerlund after the 2007 World Championships in Moscow.
What was interesting to follow (with my limited Finnish) was Mr. Kummola’s demeanor with the press gallery. I don’t know if was me, but he seemed rather annoyed and impatient. Were Kummola and Co. pushed into making a decision early because of the media circus surrounding the issue? "Officially no," said a friend of mine at work; but I think the Finnish Ice Hockey Federation was pushed into finalizing the coaching roster to get the press off their back.
Shedden’s contract with Team Finland extends to 2008. Until then, Shedden will remain with Jokerit. HPK’s Jukka Jalonen will also remain with his team until the end of the SM-liiga season. Jalonen will take over the national team in 2008.
The tabloid Iltalehti polled the public yesterday after the announcement, and 62% of respondents do not favour Shedden as the head coach of Team Finland…
While many Finns disagree with Shedden’s appointment, us crazed hockey fans – Finnish or Canadian have to remember one thing: What matters most is the results that Team Finland will produce under Shedden and Jalonen. Shedden has a great right-hand man in Jalonen, who already has experience with Team Finland. While Jalonen may not be entirely ready to take on the tasks of heading up Team Finland now; under Shedden’s tutelage, he’ll be well-prepared for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Remember also, that Shedden already has experience with Finnish players. He’s been coaching in Finland for well over a year already. How would the decision gone down if the Finnish Ice Hockey Federation had named a coach who had no experience with Finnish players or life in Finland?
It’s not all bad folks! Chin up – I expect good things from this partnership and look forward to seeing Team Finland produce some more strong results as time progresses. Forget Finland’s performance in last weekend’s Karjala tournament – that was a season-opener and means nothing in the big scheme of things…
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