It is no exaggeration to say that Finland will line up with the all-time hockey team in the Winter Olympics in four months. In about three months, the squad will be nailed down and before that, the national team management will have time to see and meet NHL players in North America.
Finland is breathing optimism after it was announced that the NHL players will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
For national team captain Jukka Jalonen and general manager Jere Lehtinen, the situation is delicate.
Finland’s best hockey generation has just started the NHL season and the Olympic team will hold a high class.
When the season begins, 45 Finns will be in the NHL.
“It’s a good table setting”
In a little over a month, it will be off to North America for Lehtinen and Jalonen.
– We see seven matches. As it now looks in eight days, Lehtinen tells Yle Urheilu.
– It’s a good table setting. We see twelve blue and white teams, about 25 Finnish players in total.
The second half of November was the only reasonable gap in the calendar.
– It is only four weeks between the EHT tournaments in Helsinki and Moscow. We have to go to North America then because the Olympic team will be nailed in January.
National team calendar
EHT tournament in Helsinki
EHT tournament in Russia
OS i Peking
April 28-May 1
EHT tournament in the Czech Republic
EHT tournament in Sweden
Home WC in Tampere
One week ago, three Olympic players were presented: Sebastian Aho, Aleksander Barkov and Mikko Rantanen.
The others, three goalkeepers and another nineteen outfielders, will be taken out in January. All indications are that there will be fourteen strikers and eight defenders.
Lehtinen and Jalonen have well-known assistants in North America.
Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekäläinen and Minnesota’s former player Mikko Koivu watch matches and report to Finland.
– They mutually agree on which players they are watching. Mikko focuses on the west and Jarmo on the east.
Two other former players living in the USA, Kimmo Timonen and Teemu Selänne, are also at the disposal of the national team management.
– If necessary, we also use them, Lehtinen reveals.
Unlikely with players from Europe
It is unclear when Finland’s Olympic squad will be presented.
– During our trip in November, we will start pondering the time. It will still be at the end of January.
– Then the NHL season is a couple of months old and we are aware of the health situation and the roles, but above all how the players perform, says Lehtinen.
Until January 10, the NHL has a veto right to withdraw from the Olympics
– Jere Lehtinen
The starting point is that the entire team consists of NHL players.
– But you should never say never. It can include players from Europe, there are examples from previous tournaments. The focus is still on North America.
Lehtinen emphasizes that there is still a small risk that there will be no Olympics with NHL stars.
– The NHL has until January 10 a veto right to withdraw from the Olympics. I still do not believe that this is the case.
The article is based on Yle Urheilus Jere Lehtinen talks about the Lions’ leadership observation trip to the NHL – up to 25 Finnish players on display during the week’s wrinkling written by Jussi Saarinen and Samu Saatsi.