En entrevue au Journal de Montréal, Kari Jalonen n’a pas mâché ses mots pour décrire son absence de l’équipe nationale.
«La raison principale, c’est qu’il ne voulait pas venir, a dit l’entraîneur en chef de la Finlande après un entraînement de son équipe à l’aréna Yubileiny de Saint-Pétersbourg. C’est sa décision. Nous avions de l’intérêt pour lui, mais il a répondu qu’il était trop fatigué.»
«Honnêtement, je ne comprends pas, a poursuivi Jalonen. Je me répète, mais la raison de son absence, c’est lui. Nous voulions lui faire une place.»
Kari Jalonen was blunt in explaining his absence from the national team.
“The main reason is he didn’t want to come”, said the Team Finland coach after a practice in St. Petersburg. “It’s his decision. We were interested in him, but he said he was too tired.”
“Honestly, I don’t understand,” continued Jalonen. “I’ll say it again, but the reason he’s not here is him. We wanted to give him a spot on the roster.”
The coach presses on, explaining that players like Mikko Koivu and Sasha Barkov and others who had just completed the NHL playoffs showed up and they weren’t fatigued, they flew over from North America and they’re playing.
Jean-François Chaumont got Arturri’s version of what happened through a Canadiens representative, who explained that Team Finland wanted him to attend the training camp the day after he’d won the Swedish League championship, and he needed more time to get his passport (from home, I would guess). He also didn’t have a Russian visa.
The main reason though seems to be that he wasn’t guaranteed a spot on the team, he was going to have to go through camp, and then face the possibility of being cut, depending on which NHL players became available later on. So he decided not to attend.
So, kind of understandable in a way, but disappointing that he couldn’t be on the team and we could see first-hand how he’s progressed, what kind of a player we have on our hands. Not great that our boy isn’t a “Yes sir, can do sir, how high should I jump sir?” kind of player, that he maybe has a spine and all. Or does he take after his draft-year classmate Martin Reway, in clashing with coaches and team executives?
If I’m going to go out on a limb, I’d guess there is a little resentment towards a homegrown player choosing to play in the Swedish League instead of playing at home? And that maybe the coaches and team managers played hardball a little bit, refusing to coddle a(n ungrateful) player or bend the rules, insisting he go through their selection camp and win a spot on the team like everyone else? And that it backfired, and they’re even more bitter?
I'm assured there is no rancour towards Finnish players who jump to the SHL, that it's seen as a normal step in a player's progression, a move up to a tougher league to play in.