Quite a piece of news this one. Jyp announced today that Sinuhe Wallinheimo, team’s mascot and definite first goalie, has been signed for next two seasons…but will go on loan to Dynamo Moscow for next four months. If you are going to say that it’s all about money in his case, you don’t actually have to, as that has indeed been confirmed by everyone involved. Wallinheimo is 36 years, married with children and a mortgage, and the ongoing one is apparently the last season he – or any other foreign goalie, for that matter -would be allowed to play in the Russian league. So he made a deal that he goes first earning big money in Moscow, after which he will happily retire in Jyväskylä. Otherwise he would have played these four months there and the rest of his career elsewhere.
Yes, it does sound like a strange arrangement – it’s not even Christmas, Jyp are 5th in the league, aiming at semi-finals in the spring, Sinuhe is sincerely proud of playing there and among our three most important players – yet after reading about the actual (if rumoured) sums I can quite understand. Himself he will earn probably something between 500.000-600.000 euro for his stint, and Jyp’s compensation should be some 100k or 200k less than that. It’s said to be the biggest transfer fee any Finnish club has ever collected, and supposedly by a wide margin. (The CEO Jukka “Cardealer” Seppänen was at his informative best in the press conference: “First I came up with a sum that I considered big enough for them to forget about it, and the Russians accepted it without even wanting to negotiate. Then I asked them to pay the same sum, but in euros instead of dollars, and they were fine with that too.” This suggests that in Russian hockey they do have money nowadays, and power too – Keskisuomalainen knew that Dynamo’s president is married to the sister of Dimitri Medvedev, Federation’s soon-to-be president.) So, to put it yawningly, it’s almost a win-win situation. The Wallinheimo family will have less mortgage payments to worry about, whereas Jyp will fill up their piggy bank and continue with the same first goalie for one or two seasons more.
But, true enough – “almost”. What about the fans? Or other stakeholders? It was the goddamn THIS spring when Jyp were supposed to fight for medals. Not next spring, or the one after, but spring 2008. It was an extraordinary situation; Virtanen-Immonen-Pihlman were back in town, the latter two only temporarily, and a guy like Dwight Helminen wanted to play a season together with his brother Lars (who scores a very, very nice goal in this highlight clip – it’s right after the interviews). Now that the team’s finances start to be in order and it’s likely that there will be a better home arena in the near future, they may well be able to maintain more or less the same budget level and keep up with the roster race, but I doubt there will be such value for money available too soon again.
The new first goalie is simply the hitherto stunt, Pekka Tuokkola, and his sidekick will be Jarno Laitinen, another Ilves alumnus. This is Tuokkola’s second campaign with Jyp and so far he has been a solid, reliable back-up – but as we all know, good second goalies don’t always make good first goalies, and with Jyp’s defence, you can’t get away with being merely good. It’s a long way to playoffs, still. And what if Tuokkola really lives up the expectations (as I personally believe he will) and, say, drags the team all the way to the finals? And, meanwhile in Russia, the Pharaoh succumbs to his old injuries and watches the latter part of the season from the audience? What then? There’s no way that Tuokkola would go back to his old role, and that’s a role which Sinuhe Wallinheimo fits in as well as yours truly fits in to an amusement park full of happy couples and noisy children. Wouldn’t sound much of a win-win anymore, now would it? To sum it up, whilst having a kind of good feeling about this, I can entirely understand if some other fans aren’t sharing it. But personally I always love a good stir-up, now let’s wait and see how ours will pay off.
In other news, there are strong rumours that Jyp have snatched Jani Tuppurainen, the finest of Kalpa. If he is to join next hockey year’s roster, it’s an excellent signing – but if he will join any sooner then it’s just silly, with all that current firepower we have.