From Finnish Championship Series to a Finnish Elite League
With the start of their first Finnish Elite League season Jokerit lost two key players in Ilpo Koskela to Lahden Reipas and Timo Sutinen to Forssan Palloseura. Timo Kyntölä retired from ice hockey altogether. This was to be the start of a steep road downhill for Jokerit.
Meanwhile the junior Canada Series was turning out good results. The D-junior team won their first Finnish Championship in the spring of 1973, and during the 1975–76 season, the B-, C- and E-juniors also got a championship. These players did not grow fast enough to stop the losing streak of Jokerit, however.
The first team placed lower season after season: 1975-76 sixth, 1976-77 seventh and 1977-78 last, in tenth place. Jokerit managed to keep their place in the Finnish Elite League in the qualifiers. The highlight of the season was the debut of Jari Kurri, who had been brought up in the Canada Series. He was to be a decisive factor in winning the European U18 Championship for Finland.
A year later, Jokerit barely managed to avoid the relegation games placing eighth. For the next few seasons, Jokerit was a qualifier staple, however. Luckily, the top teams of the lower division were too weak to take on Jokerit. The rough patch of the club led to many of the juniors being snatched by other clubs when they were old enough to play in a first team. HIFK made their first steal during the spring of 1979, when Rainer Risku moved to the championship winners. Even more sensational transfers were to come a couple of years later as Tony Arima and Anssi Melametsä went to HIFK.
After 1978-79, Jokerit lost their long-standing number one goalie as Hannu Kamppuri left to the other side of the Atlantic. A year later, Jari Kurri would follow suit. The replacement for Kamppuri was Aimo Mäkinen from Tampere. Rauli Sohlman from KooVee arrived and would later become one of the most important players for Jokerit during the 80s.
At the time, stability was not a word to be connected with Jokerit. Players came and went all the time. The team was built around a few remaining seasoned players, with young guys assembled around them. It was no different with head coaches. None of the several head coaches managed to weld together a winning team out of the mash up of players.