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Florida Panthers interested in Finland coach Jukka Jalonen. Who is he?



Florida panthers Jukka Jalonen
Finland's head coach Jukka Jalonen talks to players during a break during the Ice Hockey World Championships in Riga, Latvia on May 23, 2021. — AP Photo/Sergei Grits

According to Frank Seravalli, the Florida Panthers are reportedly adding Finland national coach Jukka Jalonen to their potential coaching search.

Jalonen, 59, has coached in Finland for over 30 years, assignments which include several stints coaching the national team since 2008.

In 2022, Jalonen was behind the bench when Finland won its first Olympic Gold.

Jalonen also coached Anton Lundell to a silver medal in the 2021 IIHF World Championship but has not coached Sasha Barkov.

Aside from coaching Finland in international tournaments, Jalonen has also coached St. Petersburg and Jokerit in the KHL as well a couple teams in Liiga.

On Saturday, it was reported that the Panthers were interested in several names for their vacant head coaching position including Barry Trotz and Pete DeBoer.

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DeBoer is now out of the running after reportedly agreeing to become the coach of the Dallas Stars.

Florida general manager Bill Zito has yet to give Andrew Brunete word on his future and it is believed that he is still very much in the running to remain coach of the Panthers.

If hired, Jalonen would be the only head coach in the NHL to be native to a country outside North America.

The last European head coach in the NHL was Czechoslovakia native Ivan Hlinka, who coached the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 42-32-3 record with nine ties from 2000 to 2001.

The Panthers have frequently gone to Finland to add to their roster, most recently signing Anton Levtchi fresh off of winning a Liiga championship with Barkov’s Tappara team and adding Petteri Lindbohm to the roster fresh off of an Olympic gold medal with Finland in February.

Director of European Scouting Jari Kekalainen — brother of Columbus GM Jarmo — has been with the team since 2002-03 and has been instrumental in drafting both Barkov and Lundell.

It is also worth noting that Tuomo Ruutu, the only assistant that the Panthers retained, is a Finnish native as well.

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