Head Coach Changes

The season started with a bang as Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks started their NHL season in 2009-10 with two matches at the Hartwall Arena. A couple of days earlier, on the 30th of September, Jokerit faced off against Florida Panthers in an exhibition game and lost 2-4. The year in the Finnish Elite League was to be full of thorns for Jokerit.

Head Coach Changes

Hannu Aravirta had returned after a break of 13 years as head coach with Jokerit. His assistant coach was Antti Törmänen, a seasoned player for the team. When Jokerit fell down to the last place in the league on the 24th of November, Aravirta and Törmänen were both fired. Hannu Jortikka came in as the head coach, and Sami Ranta who had coached the juniors came in as an assistant coach. Things were not getting any better after the change. Jokerit had to fight for their place in the playoffs until the last game of the regular season, and managed to push with a slight win of 3-2 over KalPa past SaiPa into the tenth place. But this was the furthest they got as Tappara was slightly better during the first round of the playoffs.

Jokerit went into the next season with Jortikka at the lead, but the 2010-11 season didn’t go without changes either. After a slow autumn, on the 24th of November, Jortikka was fired. Even a win against HIFK the day before did not save the man who had won six championships. Erkka Westerlund was hired as head coach. Westerlund brought in as an assistant coach from Vierumäki Tomi Lämsä, a coach of Pelicans juniors. Sami Ranta who had left Jokerit with Jortikka took the place of Lämsä in the Lahti organization.

With Westerlund, Jokerit ranked sixth in the regular season. HIFK and Jokerit had a seven-game playoff series against each other during the end of March 2011. Jokerit took the first two games, HIFK the third with a one goal difference and the fourth on extra time. When Jokerit won the fifth game, they were one victory away from the semifinals. The sixth game at Hartwall Arena went to extra time with a score of 1-1. There Jukka Hentunen went head-to-head with the HIFK goalie Juuso Riksman but Riksman saved HIFK. At 67.45 Juha-Pekka Haataja scored the decider for HIFK. With a win in the seventh game, HIFK won the series.

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