Alessandro Seren Rosso Alessandro Seren Rosso
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KHL.ru continues its weekly column with Lauri Marjamaki. The Jokers’ bench boss is at just one step to become the most-successful Finnish coach in the KHL history.

Last week, with a 2:0 win over Lokomotiv, Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamaki recorded his 127th victory behind the bench for the Helsinki-based club. That puts him tied with Kari Heikkala, who has worked with five clubs in his KHL career. Thus, Marjamaki can set an absolute record for Finnish coaches if he can mastermind a win over Vityaz tonight.

And what makes it just more interesting, is that Marjamaki, different from most of other coaches, never was a high-level player. Similar to football superstar coach Jose Mourinho, Marjamaki had a modest, semi-pro short career in Finland before starting master the coaching art. In hockey, examples abound. Former Magnitka’s head coach Paul Maurice never played beyond major junior leagues, yet he coached more than twenty years at the KHL, NHL, and IIHF WC levels. And has anybody ever heard about Mike Keenan’s pro career?

Early career

Lauri Marjamaki was born in Tampere on May 29, 1977. He started coaching in his hometown soon after he stopped playing. More precisely, he was the U18 coach at Ilves between 1999-2001, and moved onto the club’s U16 team after that. In 2003, the young coached swapped organizations, joining the Espoo Blues where he rose through the ranks as head coach of the U16 team, just to follow with assignments with the U18 and U20 squads.

Eventually, Marjamaki joined the Blues’ SM-liiga team as a part of head coach Petri Matikainen’s staff. Matikainen also had a two-season stint with Avangard later. During the following four years, the Blues had two second places in the Finnish top-flight league, and during two of those years, Marjamaki was first an assistant and then the head coach of the Finnish U20 national team.

First triumphs

After such a success, Marjamaki became the Espoo Blues’ head coach in 2011. He then moved North and joined Karpat Oulu as head coach in 2013, where he finally won the Finnish league title in 2014 and 2015. After the latter season, Marjamaki was also awarded Coach of the Year honors, receiving the Kalevi Numminen Trophy. During his first two seasons with Karpat, Marjamäki also worked as an assistant coach for the Leijonat, which reached Olympic bronze and silver at the 2014 IIHF World Championships in Belarus.

Before joining Jokerit, Marjamaki was head coach of the Finnish national team for two years and four different major tournaments: the World Cup of Hockey, the Winter Olympics and two IIHF World Championships.

Move to the KHL

Once Jukka Jalonen’s deal with Jokerit run out and he became Team Finland’s new head coach, Marjamaki replaced him at the helm of the Finnish KHL franchise. Signing a four-year deal with Jokerit, Marjamaki guaranteed some stability and, naturally, fresh ideas to an underachieving team always amassing good rosters before the season’s start.

However, Jokerit’s excellent regular season play never translated into postseason success. Just once Marjamaki managed to lead the Jokers through a playoff round, in the 2019-2020 edition, abruptly trunked by the pandemic. Jokerit was second in the Bobrov division three times in a row, but it wasn’t enough last year to avoid being swept by Lokomotiv. However, things can be different this season. Jokerit is firmly in the Western Conference’s top of the standings, and Lauri Marjamaki’s men may have a tremendous chance to start the postseason playing on home soil. And becoming the most-winning Finnish coach would be a fantastic start.

Alessandro Seren Rosso Alessandro Seren Rosso
exclusive for khl.ru

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