The Finnish team has decided to cut ties with SM-Liiga and join the KHL.
I feel this is possibly bigger news than it is being downplayed as the KHL will be in nine or ten different countries across eastern Europe.
Many would consider a move like this a concern for the NHL. Finland and Scandinavia have been some what of an NHL hotbed, seeing as they have opened their season every year since 08 (baring the this years late start due to the lock out).
Although again one can argue that their slower, spread out game is not as attractive as the NHLs. In addition to this they have done very little and seem to have no interest in attracting non-Russian speaking markets. Perhaps that is an intentional move there.
Jokerit have had a fair history of success; winning SM-Liigas Kanada-malja trophy several times over the 90s and early 2000s.
They also have accommodated players such as Jari Kurri, Teemu Selanne and Several of the Ruutu family to name a few.
This move will definitely turn a few heads in Scandinavia the K’s way this coming season, and Its clear the KHL expansion is not slowing down. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out!!
In what seems as a shocking move, Finnish based team Jokerit Helsinki has announced it will leave the very respectable SM-Liga (Finnish Elite League) for the KHL starting in the 2014-2015 season. Jokerit is one of the more established teams in SM-Liga with quite the following. This proves the KHL is adding one more step to become an international competitor to the National Hockey League.
The KHL is currently comprised of 29 teams based out of 8 countries. Jokerit Helsinki will become the ninth representing Finland. Croatia is slated to enter the league this coming season.
All 29 teams are spread out throughout Euro-asia with the far east being newly HC Admiral Vladivostok which plays on the east coast of Russia across from Japan. Spearheaded by Alexander Mogilny, Vladivostok is hoping to turn itself into a contender within it’s first year and play for the Gagarin Cup.
Jokerit has had several stars breakout over the years including Esa Tikkanen, Teemu Selanne, Ville Laino, Erik Karlsson and currently Valtteri Filppula’s older brother Ilari and Jarkko Ruutu. It will be interesting to see how this team of Finnish faithful will adapt to the Russian style and league.