A former NHL hockey player becomes the new sports director of the SM League: “We rarely ask questions about such things”

A former NHL hockey player becomes the new sports director

Jussi Markkanen will change SaiPa’s sports director’s job to the Swedish SM league.

Ilona Pesu,

Juha-Pekka Taskinen

From Lappeenranta Jussi Markkanen received a contact in the spring that I had to take.

The then CEO of the SM League Kati Kivimäki asked if Markkas would be interested in applying for the league’s sports director.

– I spent my time thinking, and it interested me enough that I wanted to jump into the process. Of course, I am very pleased that I was seen as the best option for such a great and big company, Markkanen says by phone.

Markkanen’s new identity became public yesterday, Tuesday. He will start working for the league in August.

The position of sports director is new in the league. This includes, for example, the development of sports and refereeing, as well as managing international relations.

During his hockey career, Markkanen played as a goalie in the SM league, NHL, KHL and Swiss league, among others. He ended his playing career in 2018 and then started as CEO of Liiga-SaiPa.

In May of this year, Markkanen left his duties as CEO and took over as SaiPa’s sports director. He started as the new CEO of Liiga-SaiPa Jani Valkeapää.

Gives up SaiPa

The last few years have been hard times for SaiPa’s league team. The Lappeenranta team last played in the playoffs in the spring of 2019, after which the team has been at the bottom of the league table.

Is the new laundry also a relief for you personally?

– Well, I don’t know about relief [naurahtaa]. Yes, a lot of work has been done here for SaiPa and it is still being done. I felt that people like this are very rarely asked and it’s a great honor. This will certainly also enable the renewal of SaiPa in some way.

Markkanen is Liiga-SaiPa’s third largest owner with just under 20 percent ownership. When moving to the SM league, he plans to give up his ownership.

Read also: The owners of SaiPa did not know about Jussi Markkanen’s intention to sell his share

– I feel that in my future work I cannot be so strongly committed to one club and organization. The league is a service organization that works equally with 15 clubs and organizations.

The future sports director will not yet comment further on, for example, whether the SM league should be opened.

– In the general picture, the level of league hockey is extremely tough at the moment. The development develops and you have to be on the crest of the wave, listen to top players both within the league and in other leagues and bring lessons learned to the use of the league.

You can discuss the topic on 25.5. until 23:00 at Tunnus.