My Hockey Career: Part One
(Me with Luleå HF in 2014)
Well hello friends. We might not know each other all that well but hopefully we can become quite acquainted. My name is Ilmari Hartikainen and for the past several years I have been playing the sport of hockey. Some of you might be like what hockey??? Well it is what you would call ice hockey but for us hockey players it’s the only true hockey in the world. The grass stuff is just lame.
Well you might have heard that I have played professionally and yes that is true since the age of 18 I have been playing professionally one of the biggest highlights was that I was drafted into the National Hockey League. In 2001 I was drafted in the 5th round by the New York Islanders.
I did play a bit in the NHL with 10 games to my name but mostly I was in the American Hockey League (NHL Minor League) and playing back in Europe. I have played for my hometown team Tappara (SM-Liiga), Luleå HF (Swedish Elitserien) Wolfsburg Grizzly Adams and Eisbären Berlin of the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga. I was a right winger so I scored a respectable amount of goals in my career.
It was fun playing professionally but at the age of 30 I retired from the sport due to an injury that had occurred during the Champions Hockey League. I was hit into the boards real hard and tore several ligaments and broke my leg in three places. I tried like crazy to rehab and get back into hockey shape but it was time to end my playing career. It was sad having to end playing my favourite sport at a professional level but I found something that would get me still involved.
This thing was coaching. I had always wanted to coach after my career ended but I never thought it would be as soon as it was. During the 2014/15 season I started my coaching career as an assistant coach with the Espoo Blues. I was pretty pleased that the head coach Jyrki Aho hired me. I wouldn’t say I was the best player but I did pretty decent and was a student of the game. After my first season as an assistant things would change.
I was starting to get job offers earlier in the season with a few Swedish clubs and one Russian, but I was not interested. To be perfectly honest Ilves was my goal for coaching as that is my hometown and the team that started it all. We finished in 5th place but had been swept out the playoffs during the quarter finals to JYP Jyrki was fired as change was needed.
After he was fired our board had asked me if I was interested in becoming the clubs next head coach. I had said yes but I had no clue what was to come out of it all. Apparently for the last few seasons the club had been bleeding money left and right and have been on the brink of liquidation. Now I understood why they came to me so quickly, it was because I was dirt cheap.
Oh well that is no problem as this is my first head coaching job and I would love to show the hockey world that I can manage a club in crisis. Hey if I do good maybe I can get a job in the KHL. That would be pretty sweet coaching there but I need to focus on the year. The one thing that is a challenge is that we are on a very limited budget so the roaster is not as how I would want.
Let’s see how I do in my first year in charge of a team!!!!!