Tuesday, April 1, 2014

1994-95 Jokerit Helsinki Teemu Selanne Jersey

It only seems appropriate to feature a club on April Fool's Day named the "Jokers". 

Founded in 1967 in Helsinki, Finland when Aimo Mäkinen saw the opportunity to establish a semi-professional sports club following the demise of the Töölön Vesa sports club hockey team, Mäkinen paid half of Vesa's hockey related debts and received all the previous club's assets, including their junior players and a spot in the second highest Finnish league, the Suomi-sarja, for his new club which he named "Jokerit", which is Finnish for "Jokers" and whose name and logo were inspired by the joker from a deck of playing cards.

Jokerit Helsinki logo

Two years after it's founding, Jokerit would earn promotion to the top level of Finnish hockey, the SM-sarja. Once accomplished, Mäkinen began aggressively adding star players to his roster. With rules changing allowing bodychecking in 1969, hockey in Finland underwent a change to a more physical style, which then coach Matti Lampainen felt was unsuitable for the roster he had at the time. He guided his club toward a more clever and tactical style which paid off with a championship in 1973.

The club would pass through several ownerships during the 1980's and an infusion of young talent at the end of the decade, such as defenseman Waltteri Immonen, who would captain the team from 1991-1999, Mika Strömberg, the club's all-time highest scoring defenseman, Ari Sulander, their main goaltender from 1993-1998 and Teemu Selänne, who would go on to set NHL rookie scoring records and eventually score 600 NHL goals, would return the club quickly to the top level, now called the SM-liiga, after having been relegated in 1987.

With their ownership now settled by 1991, the club became the wealthiest in Finland, which led to a dynasty that captured the Finnish championship in 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1997.


Jokerit 1997 photo Jokerit1997.jpg
Petri Varis, Otakar Janecký and Juha Lind celebrate
Jokerit's league championship in 1997

In addition to their Finnish titles, the club has also captured the European Cup in 1995 and 1996 and moved into their new home, the Hartwall Areena in 1997.

Photobucket
Kurri and Selänne hoist Immomen in celebration of the 1995 European Cup

The club's sixth championship would come in 2002 behind the goaltending of Kari Lehtonen.

When the Jokerit celebrated their 40th anniversary season in 2007-08 they retired the jersey of former star Jari Kurri, who originally played for the team from 1977-80 and again during the NHL lockout of 1994.

In addition to their six Finnish championships, Jokerit have finished second in 1971, 1983, 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2007 and won the Continental Cup in 2003.

Jokerit has also left it's mark on the NHL, with the only two Finns in NHL history to have scored 1,000 points, Kurri and Selänne, having started with Jokerit.

Other Jokerit players to have gone onto NHL careers include, Ossi Väänänen, Lehtonen, Sean Bergenheim, Valtteri Filppula, Erik Karlsson, Ville Leino, Tuomo Ruutu, and Esa Tikkanen.

Valtteri Filppula Jokerit photo ValtteriFilppulaJokerit.jpg
Valtteri Filppula

With Russian investors now owning a 49% share of Jokerit, as well as now owning Hartwall Areena, it has been announced that Jokerit will become the first club from Scandinavia to join the primarily Russian KHL for the 2014-15 season, beginning not only a new era for the club, but the KHL itself.

Today's featured jersey is a 1994-95 Jokerit Helsinki Teemu Selänne jersey. Selänne returned to Jokerit during the NHL lockout, along with Jari Kurri, and was a part of the 1995 European Cup winning team.

This jersey has the Tackla diamond shapes on the shoulders and the usual European sponsorship logos along with the oh-so-1990's magenta and teal color scheme, not to mention the yellow numbers, which makes for a very distinctive and gaudy look - more fitting for a jester than a professional athlete. Still, the club enjoyed a terrific run of  success during the time of this color scheme, even if it did become dated very quickly.

The original jerseys were all dye-sublimated, but this replica example was expertly customized with the same and numbers in twill as well as the impressive rendition of the Karjala sponsorship on the back with heat-sealed material to match the font used on the front sublimated logo. The Carrols patch on the front was one of our custom made patches that was then also sewn on to complete the look of this most distinctive jersey.

On a personal note, we wore this jersey to a Anaheim Ducks game in the spring of 2013 and stood out enough in it's loud colors that we were given a puck by Selänne during warmups!

Finland Jokerit Helsinki 1991-92 jersey photo FinlandJokeritHelsinki1991-92F.jpg
Finland Jokerit Helsinki 1991-92 jersey photo FinlandJokeritHelsinki1991-92B.jpg

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2005-06 Jokerit Helsinki Tero Konttinen jersey. While the 1990's Jokerit jerseys may have been memorable for their garish coloring, the club did themselves a great favor at the turn of the century when they adopted navy blue, red and yellow as their color palette. After using the same striping pattern as the Russian National Team, in 2003-04 the club copied the NHL's Florida Panthers 1998-2003 alternate jerseys, sans waist striping to good effect. This jersey style remained in use, albeit with an ever evolving set of sponsorship logos, through the 2007-08 season.


Finland Jokerit Helsinki 2005-06 jersey photo FinlandJokeritHelsinki2005-06F.jpg
Finland Jokerit Helsinki 2005-06 jersey photo FinlandJokeritHelsinki2005-06B.jpg

Our first video of today is footage of Jokerit during the 1992 SM-liiga Finals.


Our second video features rabid Jokerit supporters in footage from 2006.

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