Ice hockey | Tomorrow, a big feeling can close Lasse Kukkonen’s mouth

On Saturday The match between the Kärppi and Mikkelin Jukurs, played in Oulu’s Raksila, is not an ordinary regular season match. Before the start of the match, a party will be held in the hall, when the kärpä and national team legend Lasse Kukkonen, 41, the jersey rises to the roof structures of the Oulun Energia arena. Kärpät announced the freezing of Kukkonen’s shirt at the beginning of August.

Using game number five is in Kärp from Saturday 8.10. prohibited from Freezing the shirt and game number is the biggest honor the club can give to an ex-player.

The party food is not exciting yet.

“On a scale of one to ten, maybe a five. You don’t really know yet whether it will excite you or make you cry or what emotions will arise when that day slowly arrives. However, you can tell in itself that the big day is approaching”, says Kukkonen.

The fighter who won four Finnish championships in Kärpi and the world championship in Leijon points out that his career has been promoted by others besides himself. He hopes that thanks will come across in his words on Saturday.

“There can be quite a range of emotions on Saturday. You have to focus only on being able to say something. I hope that the people close to me – my parents, my wife, my children – could feel how important they have been that I’ve been able to live my puck dream. It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of others,” Kukkonen says.

Rooster after his playing career, he didn’t have time to be away from the top organization for long, when he started his new position as the club’s development director on the first day of May.

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Seuraikon’s job description is diverse and comprehensive. Kukkonen opens up about what he does and where his handprint can be seen in the club’s operations.

“I’m trying to help Late (head coach Lauri Marjamäki) and Habaa (sports manager Harri Aho) with the team. Let’s go through the ideas of where to go and what things work. The sports side still includes a bit of figuring out the structure of next year’s team and assembling its puzzle. I’m trying to gather background information for when Haba starts contract negotiations.”

The work of Lasse Kukkonen (right) can be seen both on and off the ice.

The job description also includes handling matters outside the rink.

“Then, on the scale of the entire organization, I map information on where we are going, where we are succeeding and where we still need to improve. Where do we perhaps need to focus more resources and how do we serve our supporters and partners better.”

The hockey community outside, Kukkonen has rehabilitated himself as an active social media user after his playing career. The konkar, who has been the captain of the Kärppie for eight seasons, actively takes a stand on the war in Ukraine.

“The situation in Ukraine is absolutely terrible. The people there are in a really difficult and tough situation when Russia decided to attack and start a war. It seems completely incomprehensible that something like this is happening in the 2020s. I feel it [sodan] very wrong and outrageous, says Kukkonen.

If you were to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin face to face, what would you say to him?

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“Maybe it’s better if Kukkonen doesn’t say anything. Only that the war is wrong in every way and it should end immediately. Let those who know these things better handle it. I don’t have enough competence.”

As for the Finns playing sports in Russia, Kukkonen does not judge them. The decision is everyone’s personal.

“However, it’s not quite normal now. The world situation is not quite normal either, and sport is not something outside of it. At the same time, everyone makes their own decisions and bears responsibility for them. Of course, they have some consequences, as has now been the case with the national team, for example.”

Current the world situation also affects hockey rinks as far as Finland. Fixed costs are rising, so many families have to cut back on some expenses. Often these expenses are entertainment products and luxuries, such as SM league matches.

Kukkonen warmly recommends everyone to go to the hall to watch matches and cheer on their own. According to him, regardless of the location, really good hockey is played in Finland now.

Although the audience numbers have not reached the averages set by the clubs in the early season, Kukkonen is not worried but confident about the continuation.

“Spectator numbers are something that all league clubs are working towards. I know that the clubs have been quite open-minded about reforming their activities after the corona virus. However, it won’t appear in the stands right away. We have to come up with new ways to meet the audience so that they feel that coming to the match event is possible. We are going in the right direction.”

According to the multiple World Cup and Olympic visitor, discussion and criticism are very welcome.

“It’s good to talk, to be critical and to point out potential threats. Any discussion that takes place is a good thing. If there is no discussion around the SM league, then we are in a difficult place”, says Kukkonen.

When you ask Kukko about the top moments of his career, a few situations come to mind.

“Of course, seeing the promotion to the league from the stands, even though I didn’t play the game in question, was a pretty great experience. As a little boy, I had been watching the games when I didn’t get up. Then, of course, the first Finnish championship and later the world championship come to mind. At this point, however, I am very grateful that I was able to play my last game so that the audience was there again after the corona. The whole team and the coach Mikko Manner gave the opportunity for that.”

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