FanPost

Jussi Parkkila

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via farm8.staticflickr.com


Due to the ongoing discussions about the lack of a full-time goalie coach for the Avs, recently I was looking up various information on Jussi Parkkila, in particular trying to find out the length of his contract with SKA by searching the Russian internets. Here is everything I could find on him over the past couple years.

Avs fans first heard about Jussi Parkkila during Semyon Varlamov's introductory press conference on July 7, 2011. Varly stated that he planned to work with Parkkila in Russia in August before heading back to Denver.

Who is Jussi Parkkila?

Parkkila was born on 5/13/1977 in Tampere, Finland. He speaks Finnish and English, and he does not speak Russian. He communicates with his Russian goalies that he has worked with on KHL teams in English and hand signals if that fails. Parkkila described himself this way:

I'm very tough and demanding coach. But at the same time, I believe that hockey, it's a great game and we should enjoy it, the only way to succeed!

Career history

Seasons

Team

League

1997-2002

Ilves junior team

unknown

2002-2007

Ilves U20

Jr. A SM-liiga

Fall 2007

Lethbridge Hurricanes

WHL

2007-2008

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

Russian Super League

2008-2010

Tappara

SM-liiga

2010-2011

Atlant Mytishchi

KHL

2011-2012

SKA St. Petersburg

KHL

Parkkila worked for 10 years as a goalie coach with the junior teams for Ilves in SM-liiga (Sami Aittokallio’s team) in Finland. In the fall of 2007, Parkkila spent 3 months in Lethbridge, Alberta working with Jeff Battah and the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the WHL.

It appears that Parkkila had to make the jump to the Russian Super League (the predecessor to the KHL) to reach the highest level of goalie coaching. After he was in the WHL for 3 months, he started with Lokomotiv in November 2007, where he met and worked with Varly. After that season, Parkkila went back to Finland, where he was able to coach at the highest level for two years in for Tappara. Parkkila has spent the past two seasons in the KHL with Atlant and SKA.

There was some controversy from Parkkila leaving Atlant last summer and going to SKA, but that appears perpetuated by the GM. Parkkila left Atlant after his contract ended and took a position with SKA to work with the new head coach and assistant coach, who he had worked with Atlant the previous season where they came in 2nd place during the playoffs. The Atlant GM was not happy about Parkkila leaving the team and made a stink in the press. I don’t know the story behind the head coach and assistant coaches leaving Atlant for SKA, but it appears the GM was only unhappy about Parkkila and complained that Parkkila did not tell him personally but let his agent do it. Parkkila explained that occurred because he doesn’t speak Russian and the GM doesn’t speak English. I searched high and low on the Russian internets, but I have been unable to find anything that specified the length of the contract Parkkila signed with SKA.

Parkkila was involved in Pro Goal Development's expansion into a summer program exchange in Finland and Vancouver B.C. in the summer of 2011. Parkkila is also heavily involved with the Finnish National Team Program in their goaltending development.

Avalanche Connections

Semyon Varlamov

Parkkila met Varly while he coached for Lokomotiv in 2007-2008. By all accounts they developed a close relationship that they have kept up to this day. Varly’s first quote on Parkkila, when he joined Lokomotiv in November 2007:

This is a big plus, because he worked in various clubs abroad, in America [I think he meant Canada]. I think he has great experience and he will give something new, a lot of useful, I think we learn from it. Still, specific training for here, in Finland and abroad are very different.

Varly led Lokomotiv to second place in the Russian Super League championship working with Parkkila. Varly played 44 games in the regular season, with a 2.45 GAA and .909 sv %. Lokomotiv made a surprising run to the championship round and in 16 playoff games Varly posted 5 shutouts with a 1.62 GAA. Two of his five shutouts came in the best-of-five championship series with Salavat. After stopping all 27 shots in a 3-0 win in the opener, Varly led Yaroslavl to a 1-0 win in Game 4 that temporarily kept the team's championship hopes alive. Salavat clinched the title with a 4-1 win in Game 5. From an interview on 4/10/2008 after the Game 4 win:

"To be honest, I had a bad feeling before the game. I came to stadium and there was no desire to play," Varlamov confessed in an interview late on Wednesday night.

"But then the goalie coach said to me, "You just have to go out on the ice, and you will get satisfaction from your game." I got the new power of their words will be followed. Something changed inside me," Varlamov said.

"It was a brilliant performance Varlamov," Parkkila praised.

Varlamov spent a few weeks in Tampere, Finland in the summer of 2008 working with Parkkila. In August 2009, Varly worked out with Parkkila and his team Tappara in Tampere, Finland for a few weeks before coming to the US. Varly has also worked with Parkkila in Russia during the off season.

Parkkila was interviewed during the WC in May 2010. This is a very interesting interview with many comments on Varly and some on their relationship.

Even with an abundance of NHL superstars on the Russian roster, all eyes will also be on Varlamov. One set of eyes is especially important for Varlamov. That’s his Finnish goaltending coach Jussi Parkkila from Tampere. Parkkila was a goaltending coach in Yaroslavl a few years ago, during Varlamov’s last year in Russia. The two hit if off and Parkkila has continued to coach Varlamov.

"We go through every game together, I spoke with him on the phone this morning," Parkkila says over the phone from Finland, on the day of the quarterfinal against Canada.

Not many things need to be corrected after a shutout, but according to Parkkila, Varlamov always wants to get feedback. "He’s an exceptional talent, and I often compare him to the Boston Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask. Semyon learns fast, and he wants to develop continually. It’s quite a challenge for me, so that I can make sure that I’ll be able to help him," says Parkkila.

"He’s not going to rest on his laurels, he always wants to get better and raise the bar. He’s a very conscientious person who does everything like it’s supposed to," Parkkila says.

Biased as he may be, Parkkila is confident his protégé will come through. After all, having watched all games on TV, he thinks Varlamov is the best goalie in the tournament.

"He’s very, very fast, his reactions are fantastic. You can see how fast he moves if there are rebounds. He’s very flexible, there doesn’t seem to be anything his body can’t do," Parkkila says.

"I think he’s the best in the tournament. He’s very talented and at 22, he still has a lot of time to fulfill his enormous potential," he adds.

Parkkila visited Varly in Washington in April 2010 after the season with Tappara ended, and again in 2011 after the season with Atlant ended. In fact Parkkila was announced as the new goalie coach for Atlant while he was in DC with Varly in April 2010.

I think there is a good chance that Parkkila will visit Varly in Denver after his season with SKA is over, although he probably wouldn't make it before the NHL regular season is over the first week of April. EmilyB informed me that the KHL regular season ends about a month before the NHL regular season, and the KHL championship is awarded about 2 weeks before the WC starts. This year the WC starts on May 4, and I know from following the Caps that NHL players can lose out in the first round of the playoffs and have enough time to join their national team for the entire WC tournament. Losing in the second round in less than 7 games gives an NHL player just enough time to join the WC tournament in progress. SKA is expected to go very deep in the playoffs, they are one of the best teams because they are the richest and buy players and coaches, so Parkkila probably would not be free until sometime in April.

From a Jussia Parkkila interview on 3/25/11:

Did you hear that Semyon Varlamov, with whom you have worked in the Locomotive, may return to Russia?

Yes, of course. He has a problem in Washington

Maybe you tell about the details?

I'd love to, but it was too delicate an issue that remains between us. Incidentally, I talk on the phone with Semyon almost every week.


From a Varly interview on April 1, 2011:

Do you communicate with your former coach Parkkila, who is now with Atlant?

Yeah, quite often. Maybe once a week. On the telephone, of course, there's not much advice you can give. We just keep in touch, find out how each other is doing. He often watches my games.

From both these interviews we learn that they talk on the phone about once a week, and Parkkila often watches Varly’s games. Also, Parkkila was privy to the reasons Varly wasn’t happy in Washington and wanted to leave, so obviously they are close.

After Varly’s introductory press conference, he gave two interviews to Russian journalists. The interviews included questions on why Varly wanted to sign with SKA, and Varly gave the desire to work with Jussi Parkkila as the reason.

From an interview by Slava Malamud in the Washington Post/Sport-Express:

Everyone knows that in the KHL you were being sought by SKA.

Not only SKA. I considered Lokomotiv, too. But SKA had the advantage because they had hired a great goalie coach in Jussi Parkkila. This is a guy who would’ve kept me on the same high level. Logically, if I were to return [to KHL], it would be to him.

The opportunity to work with Parkkila again was apparently very attractive to Varly.

From a Dater article in October 2011:

Varlamov, 23, said his style has changed over the years, mostly from working with Finnish goalie coach Jussi Parkkila. He's evolved from being more of a stand-up goalie to one who slides quickly from side to side on his pads and uses the butterfly for shots that come in head-on.


Sami Aittokallio

Parkkila’s last season as the U20 junior team coach with Ilves corresponded with Sami’s first season with the Ilves organization. Sami was on the Ilves-T U16 team in the Jr. C SM-sarja Q league. It’s unknown whether or not Sami was coached by Parkkila, but it’s possible, and at the minimum, I assume they might have at least known each other. I am unfamiliar with Finnish hockey leagues, so I could be completely wrong in this assumption. Also, Parkkila is involved with the Finnish National team, which Sami has played on, most recently at WJC.

Side note, here is some information from Goalie Guild about Sami’s goalie coach:

Aittokallio’s goalie coach is Markus Korhonen, a former Ilves goaltender that retired on April 23, 2010. Korhonen is also a native of Tampere and was born in 1975, while Parkkila was born in 1977. I have tried to search for a link between Korhonen and Parkkila to further reinforce this notion of Varlamov and Aittokallio having some similar coaching influences, but I haven’t found anything yet.

Rabiesmalin, who is a big Nicklas Backstrom fan, recalls watching Korhonen at the tail end of his career when he and Backstrom were playing for Brynas in the SEL. He wasn’t very good by her recollection, but that does not imply anything about his coaching skills.

Other Goalies Mentored by Parkkila

Parkkila is well known throughout Europe for developing NHL 1st round picks Tuukka Rask (25th pick by Toronto in 2005), Riku Helenius (15th pick by Tampa Bay in 2006), and Semyon Varlamov (21st pick by Washington in 2006). He also worked with Harri Sateri (4th round pick by San Jose in 2008). Parkkila worked with Tuukka Rask for 2 years with Ilves, and Riku Helenius while he was with Ilves as well, and he worked with Harri Sateri with Tappara.

Konstantin Barulin (Russian National team, KHL-Atlant) is another goalie that Parkkila has tutored. Parkkila worked with Barulin for one year with Atlant, and Barulin performed very well that season, including in the playoffs (Atlant took second place). Barulin was the Russian national team’s starting goalie for most of the 2011 WC (Varly was not chosen for the team because the Russian Hockey Federation did not like the fact he did not play in the NHL playoffs and had been on the bench for a few weeks before the WC). Barulin wanted to continue working with Parkkila, but it was not to be because he was under contract with Atlant. SKA, along with trying to deny that Lokomotiv owned Varly’s rights in the KHL, was also talking directly to Barulin and trying to sign him. Both attempts by SKA to break the KHL rules failed.

From an interview in May 2011, Barulin, along with stating he would like to continue working with Parkkila, also said, "He did not hide the fact that he loves to work with lean goalkeepers." Barulin said that Parkkila made him lose 8 kg, so he went from 100 kg to 92 kg. In July Barulin said about Parkkila:

He and I continue to support friendly relations, so meaning to say goodbye was not. Parkkila already told me how he had things in a new place of work, said that he wanted me to continue working. By the way, he invited me to go through pre-season training at his camp. I think I will continue to refer to Jussi for advice. Ready to repeat what has already been said, I would like to work with the specialist.

Interview of Parkkila on 3/25/11:

Judging by the way this season has added Barulin, the demand for you to be decent. How did you achieve with this progress?

Thank you for your kind words, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. As Barulin, I gave him a set of completely new exercises. They are designed to work on technique and psychology. The goalkeeper is very important to be mentally stable. Most importantly, Konstantin dropped 9 kg, becoming more mobile. I do believe that the goalkeeper can progress in almost every age.

Ilya Yezhov is a goalie with SKA (recently seen on Puck Daddy with a goalie victory dance), and he spent 3 years with their minor league team in the VHL and was able to move up to KHL team this season with Parkkila’s help. On 2/6/12 he said:

And yet you stayed three years in a team VHL and suddenly shot in the SKA, drawing the attention of coaches the team.

Just goalkeepers were strong. And a lot depends on the coach, who is responsible for our training. I was lucky that the team appeared Jussi Parkkila. He saw me and "lifted". In those three years I have always held preseason, but I'm not allowed to play. Not a chance in games for the SKA I did not get. Jussi gave me a chance.

Recommendation of Parkkila by Another Goalie Coach

The following information comes from a Japer’s Rink post about an interview occurring June 2008.

Eurohockey.net has an interview with Finnish goalie coach Jukka Ropponen, who has tutored the likes of Kari Lehtonen, Niklas Backstrom and others. It's a great read, and of particular interest to Caps fans will be this passage:

Have you followed the recent paths of Semyon Varlamov? He seemed to really gain from the experience of being trained by a Finn trainer.

I was invited to work with Varlamov and other 2 goalies at Loko’s camp last summer [2007], so I am very familiar with Varlamov’s path. We actually had discussions about additional consulting during the season, but that dried out once the club did let coach Gardner go. In my opinion Semyon Varlamov is the most talented young goalie I have seen in many years. He has potential to be a real NHL star in the future. He is also technically amazingly sound and some of the difficult moves are just natural for him. I am sure that it was very beneficial for Semyon to have Jussi Parkkila coaching him during the last season. Parkkila is a good coach and he has done wonders with several young Finnish prospects.

Future Career Prospects for Parkkila

In a July 10, 2011 interview Varly said:

How did this option with KHL's SKA came up?

Why this team necessarily? I was considering offers from Lokomotiv, from SKA, there were also other options in the KHL. SKA's biggest plus was that Jussi Parkkila is the goaltending coach there. I really wanted to work with this specialist, who has been working with me for the last four years and really helped me in the development of my career. I think the day Parkkila come over to North America and work in the NHL is not far away.

Maybe you can bring him over to Denver? It would be my pleasure to do that. It's not the easiest thing to do. But agents and I will try to make it happen.

I know that many of us took that to mean that Varly was campaigning for Parkkila behind the scenes, but I found another interview from July 13, 2011 that revealed that might not be the case. This is a google translate of a Russian interview of Varlamov, so pardon the English.

Well, like I said, we could not agree with the Washington on a new contract. I have to change the Capitals is not wanted. And so I began to consider the option of returning to Russia. But first of all, I still considered Locomotiv, rather than the SKA. I would like to sign a contract with them. SKA arose after the contract offer made Petrograders [SKA] Finnish goalkeeper coach Jussi Parkkila. With him I worked for the past five years, and because he was inclined to the version of the SKA. I decided for myself that if I will return to Russia, will only work with the specialist.

That is the "driving force" talks held earlier than with the SKA?
Yes. Just as I said, that the version of the SKA, I was inclined because of the great desire to work with Jussi.

You even said that the attempt to carry Jussi Colorado! It was a joke?
Well, of course. After all, Colorado has a goalkeeping coach. I just wanted to point out that in the future would like to work with the specialist. I hope it would happen.

Do not you think that a little dangerous to be so tied to one coach?
For whom?

For you. It is not always Parkkila can work with you.
Well, it is understandable that he may be busy with other teams. Just when you have a choice - to work with or without Jussi - I'll try to make working with him. But, of course, I did not expect that all the 15 years he would train me. But why 15? 20, 30 or even 40! How many will continue my career. God grant that it was a long and successful!


Justin at Goalie Guild had this to say about the possibility of Parkkila coming over:

I don’t know if Parkkila will come over to the NHL because goalie coaches over here do not make a lot of money. I am sure he is being paid a lot more to work with SKA’s goaltenders, but I am just speculating off what I know what type of money NHL goalie coaches make. Every team pays their goalie coach different amounts depending on their expected roles. But it is not a huge chunk of change compared to what head or assistant coaches make, so you have to keep that in mind.

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