Into the 1st Division

The next season was not as successful anymore. At the end of the 1987 regular season, Jokerit found itself at the bottom of the league charts for the second time. The first time this had happened was in 1978, and at that time, Jokerit was saved in the qualifiers. In 1986-87, the last place team was automatically relegated into the lower division. The team now had to rewind in lower series.

Into the 1st Division

The division season of 1987-88 was among the worst in the history of Jokerit. Almost all league-class players were lost with relegation, and coaches Henry Leppä and newly appointed Kari Kinnunen simply could not fire up the team. The Finnish Elite League was in the process to be expanded to include 12 teams. Two clubs would get direct promotion and a third one would get to the league through qualifiers.  

Jokerit only came in seventh trailing the third place by twelve points. During the season, in the division there still took place two decisive things for the future. A large number of Jokerit fans were pulled together in the abyss. The strong fan movement behind the team was born. This movement was to flourish during the 1990s. Jokerit also won the Juniors Finnish Championship. The winning team had many future star players of the first team: Teemu Selänne, Keijo Säilynoja, Mika Strömberg, Waltteri Immonen, Ari Sulander and Markus Ketterer. This junior team was coached by Leo Äikäs, who was to have a long and successful stretch as the assistant coach of Jokerit’s Finnish Elite League team.

Äikäs was in fact lured into the coaching staff of the first team straight after winning the gold with juniors. He was also the decisive factor in keeping the promising young players in Jokerit.

Jokeriklubin Tuki ry run by Korpela sold the first team operations to a new enteprise, Jokerit-Hockey Oy, led by Kalervo Kummola, Martti Larva, Kimmo Leinonen and Jyrki Otila among others. Kari Mäkinen from Oulu was hired as head coach. Tony Arima and Anssi Melametsä from HIFK, Arto Tapola from Tappara, Pekka Karasjoki from HIFK juniors and Sami Wahlsten from TPS came in to supplement the golden juniors. Jokerit started their second season in the division as one of the favorites.

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