- Kontiola, recruited by HPK, is by far the most well-known acquisition of the SM League, which starts on Thursday.
- The savvy, abandoned by the Jokers, did not want to stay in KHL because of the money.
- Kontiola, who turns 36 at the beginning of October, plans to play for years to come.
The biggest attraction of the transfer market is also felt by the so-called general public.
– Nice that the group is interested, “Konna” has high expectations.
– After all, quite a lot has been played here, and the national team has had quite good performances. Maybe that’s why the outfit knows me.
Petri Kontiola has played two Olympics and six World Championships and won two World Championships silver and an Olympic bronze.
Last season, Kontiola was the Jokerie’s third most powerful striker, but was still left without a follow-up contract. It made the most efficient Finn in KHL history watch the return to the domestic league ice after a 13-year hiatus.
– I wanted to come to Finland. Even when I left, it was clear to me that one day I would still be playing in the SM League.
Despite the unparalleled merits at the league level, Kontiola knows that he is also in doubt: he will turn 36 at the beginning of October.
– I’m not at the age of skiing down to the end of my gaming career, by no means, he emphasizes.
– I hope there are still years left.
The skills of a centrifuge playing with a twinkle in the eye are enough, that’s clear, but is the pace enough? The issue is familiar to Kontiola.
– Things have been done in front of the store, he assures.
– I’m leaving here with a humble mind and of course I’ll jump in full right away. I hope I can answer the shout – and why I couldn’t.
The last season, in the final stages of which Kontiola’s role in the Jokers diminished, has only increased the man’s motivation.
– It left a lot of cravings.
HPK’s two-week quarantine ended last Wednesday, allowing the team to reunite for joint exercises.
The unexpected self-directed training period did not cause any bigger problems for Kontiola.
– For myself, it was a familiar thing. After all, I didn’t want to be with the team for more than a week and a half, and then it got hit.
– Of course, this is unfortunate stuff, but so far it has been clarified quite a bit. I packed the family and bouquets and sweaters, and then we went to the cottage. Our cottage was built inspired by Vierumäki Sports Center, and it is good to practice there.
For the team, however, there was an unfortunate break in preparing for the season.
– I have a new come along, and the tactical side of the fermentation would be interested. There would be little patterns honed on ice with playmates. Even special situations play such a big role today, Kontiola takes care of.
These issues have received special attention in the HPK since the end of quarantine.
The quarantines suffered by HPK, Jukuri and KooKoo raise the question of whether the league season, which starts on October 1, can be completed.
– It is always hoped that the situation would improve anyway, and not just for hockey. We are currently going day and week at a time.
HPK’s new head coach Matti Tiilikainen could have gotten a more comfortable start for his first term as commander-in-chief in the SM League than the team quarantine caused by the pandemic.
Kontiola’s first impression of Tiilikainen, three years younger than himself, has been positive.
– Is a well-being type, passion is reflected in daily activities. We hope to help each other over the course of the season. That real gauge comes when you start dividing points and there is a little pressure on the rings, Kontiola knows.
In addition to him, also a defender Ville Koistinen, 38, is senior to the head coach. It is important for the success of the team that the trust between the veterans and the coach works in both directions.
– The forest responds as it shouts, Kontiola says.
– Basically, you have come to play here, and the situation is easier if your own games run. When the games have gone well, the trust has been worth it.
– That’s how I’m leaving for this job. I haven’t really even mentioned that the coach is younger than me. We have a healthy player-coach relationship.
The spirit of the game
In the spring, Kontiola openly said that he dreamed of returning to Tappara, which he represented at the league level in 2003-07.
– I am in favor of a little boy Tappara. It was a great thing that I sometimes got there to play. Now as a parent, I understand the spirit of the game, and I wasn’t involved in their future plans.
– Then HPK showed the greatest interest. There were a few calls and it was said that a role would be available. It made me feel good, and I decided to jump on this sled, Kontiola repeats herself in the rows of orange blacks.
– I saw this as the best option.
Kontiola still lives in Tampere, from where he drives with Koistinen to Hämeenlinna for training.
– It’s not such a bad trip. When the games start, we will probably spend more nights in Hämeenlinna.
Kontiola speaks in a warm tone about his KHL years 2009–2020.
– It was a great time. I still keep in touch with many of my playmates with whom I got to play in those years. It’s nice to remember everything that’s happened and what’s been done.
– Now there has been a salary cap and more, but the time I was there was a good time to be in that series.
According to Kontiola, KHL developed a lot in ten years.
– I mean the circumstances, and anyway the hustle and bustle became more professional. At first, it felt like it was frozen in old stuff. Now coaches from all over the world have brought their own stuff there, and the Russians have learned from it too.
Money is not the most important
Kontiola’s handsome KHL career ended in a corona spring in the Jokers.
– It’s not over yet. After all, there is hope that one day you will still be able to get to KHL, he says – and then adds that he mainly threw humor.
Prior to the Helsinki club, Kontiola represented Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Traktor Chelyabinsk and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. He didn’t want to wait for a contract offer from some smaller KHL club.
– There are no more awful teams that I would like to go to play. I didn’t want any underdog group just to get into KHL. I know what it’s like everyday when everyone out there thinks they should win the championship even if there’s no chance of it.
Kontiola, who had already cashed in the big money at KHL in his career, knew that returning to the Finnish Championship League would significantly lighten his salary bag.
– My price tag has never been high. If I wanted to make money, then I would have had to wait and go to some worse KHL team. I think the place would have come from somewhere, but that wasn’t my thing.
Due to the pandemic, Kontiola did not want to take his family with him to Russia.
– It seems that in Russia the corona is being pulled with a semistic left. When you think of children, for example, Finland is a good place to be.