Pekka Rautakallio

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Pekka Rautakallio
Pekka Rautakallio 271111.jpeg
Born (1953-07-25) July 25, 1953 (age 60)
Pori, FIN
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Left
Played for Ässät
Phoenix Roadrunners
Atlanta Flames
Calgary Flames
HIFK Helsinki
Playing career 1968–1989

Pekka Rautakallio (born July 25, 1953) is a Finnish former professional ice hockey defenceman and coach. He played 14 seasons of elite hockey in the SM-sarja and SM-liiga between 1968 and 1987 for Ässät and HIFK Helsinki, during which he was a five-time Finnish All-Star. Rautakallio was a member of Ässät's championship team that won the Kanada-malja in 1978. He was named the best defenceman of the SM-liiga in 1978, 1979 and 1986; the league later named the award the Pekka Rautakallio trophy in his honour. Internationally, Rautakallio played with the Finnish national team in seven World Championships and two Canada Cup tournaments.

Rautakallio played North American professional hockey on two occasions. He spent two years with the Phoenix Roadrunners of the World Hockey Association (WHA) between 1975 and 1977. He returned in 1979 to join the Atlanta Flames of the National Hockey League (NHL) for one season before relocating to Canada with the franchise and playing two more with the Calgary Flames. Rautakallio played in the 1982 NHL All-Star Game, making him the first Finnish player in league history to appear in the game. He retired in 1989 after playing the final two seasons of his career with SC Rapperswil-Jona of the Swiss second division, after which he turned to coaching. Rautakallio has coached in Swizterland, Finland, and most recently Latvia with Dinamo Riga of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

Playing career[edit]

Pekka Rautakallio started his ice hockey career in local club of his hometown, Ässät in 1970. He also represented the club's football team. As a skilled and mobile defenceman, Rautakallio was soon noticed and he played on his first International tournament in 1972.

Rautakallio gained the attention of World Hockey Association (WHA) officials when the 1974 Summit Series team played an exhibition against the Finnish national team. The Phoenix Roadrunners thought to sign him to a contract that year, but hesitated out of fear that the challenge of a Finn adapting to life in Arizona on his own would be too great. They brought him over one year later, along with his countryman Lauri Mononen, and signed both to two-year contracts.[1] Rautakallio recorded 50 points, including 11 goals, in 1975–76. He finished as the leading scorer among rookie defencemen, and fifth overall for all defencemen.[2] He then fell to 35 points in 1976–77.[3] The Roadrunners ceased operations following the season, and lacking other options in North America, Rautakallio returned to Finland.[4]

Rautakallio returned to Ässät, which had joined the recently formed SM-liiga, and established himself as a top defenceman in the league. He was named defenceman of the year in both 1977–78 and 1978–79; the SM-liiga ultimately named the award the Pekka Rautakallio trophy in his honour. He recorded 37 points in 36 games in 1977–78, then improved to 25 goals and 53 points the following year.[5] Ässät established its place as the SM-liiga's dominant team by winning the Kanada-malja as league champions in 1978 and reaching the final in 1979.[6]

The Atlanta Flames brought Rautakallio back to North America in 1979 as general manager Cliff Fletcher signed him to a National Hockey League (NHL) contract.[7] The Flames were impressed with the power of his shot and his speed; he finished his first NHL season with 30 points.[2] Rautakallio relocated with the franchise when it moved to Canada and became the Calgary Flames in 1980–81.[3] He led the team in scoring by a defenceman with 56 points.[8]

The 1981–82 season was Rautakallio's best in the NHL. He again led the team's defencemen in scoring, and was fourth overall, with 68 points in 80 games.[9] He played for the Campbell Conference team at the 1982 All-Star Game, and in doing so became the first Finn in NHL history to appear in the mid-season contest.[3] However, he opted to return to Finland after the season as his sons were beginning school. He feared they were becoming to Canadian and wanted them to grow up in his homeland.[4]

Rautakallio returned to play for HIFK, instead of Ässät, and served for a while as the captain of HIFK. Rautakallio retired from playing in 1989 after two seasons with SC Rapperswil-Jona in Switzerland.

Coaching career[edit]

Rautakallio remained with SC Rapperswil-Jona and joined the team as its coach. He later coached in Bern and Zurich.[4] Returning to Finland, Rautakallio twice served in Espoo as head coach of Blues. His first term came during the 1998–99 SM-liiga season, when he was replaced mid-season by Hannu Saintula. Rautakallios second term came when he was the replacement for Hannu Virta, who was sacked during the 2004–05 SM-liiga season. Most recently, he served as head coach of Dynamo Riga in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Rautakallion joined the squad in 2011, but was dismissed midway through the 2012–13 season as Riga struggled.[10]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1968–69 Ässät SM-sarja 10 2 1 3 0
1969–70 Ässät SM-sarja 22 9 2 11 2
1970–71 Ässät SM-sarja 31 6 5 11 18
1971–72 Ässät SM-sarja 32 10 8 18 14
1972–73 Ässät SM-sarja 34 23 12 35 21
1973–74 Ässät SM-sarja 32 9 12 21 8
1974–75 Ässät SM-sarja 36 9 13 22 19
1975–76 Phoenix Roadrunners WHA 73 11 39 50 8 5 0 2 2 0
1976–77 Phoenix Roadrunners WHA 78 4 31 35 8
1977–78 Ässät SM-liiga 36 16 21 37 16 9 5 4 9 0
1978–79 Ässät SM-liiga 36 25 28 53 26 8 5 9 14 2
1979–80 Atlanta Flames NHL 79 5 25 30 18 4 0 1 1 2
1980–81 Calgary Flames NHL 76 11 45 56 64 16 2 4 6 6
1981–82 Calgary Flames NHL 80 17 51 68 40 3 0 0 0 0
1982–83 HIFK Helsinki SM-liiga 36 16 16 32 16 9 6 4 10 10
1983–84 HIFK Helsinki SM-liiga 33 9 21 30 10 2 0 2 2 0
1984–85 HIFK Helsinki SM-liiga 29 12 18 30 18
1985–86 HIFK Helsinki SM-liiga 34 13 23 36 8 10 3 0 3 10
1986–87 HIFK Helsinki SM-liiga 42 15 25 40 10 5 5 1 6 5
1987–88 SC Rapperswil-Jona NLB 33 19 14 33 18 3 1 1 2 0
1988–89 SC Rapperswil-Jona NLB 12 1 4 5 0 1 0 0 0 0
Finnish totals 443 174 205 379 186 43 24 20 44 27
WHA totals 151 15 70 85 16 5 0 2 2 0
NHL totals 235 33 121 154 122 23 2 5 7 8

International[edit]

Year Team Event GP G A Pts PIM
1972 Finland WC 4 0 0 0 0
1973 Finland WC 7 0 0 0 4
1975 Finland WC 10 0 3 3 0
1976 Finland CC 5 2 2 4 2
1977 Finland WC 10 3 4 7 2
1978 Finland WC 10 4 3 7 2
1979 Finland WC 7 2 1 3 2
1981 Finland CC 5 0 1 1 2
1983 Finland WC 10 1 7 8 0
Senior totals 68 12 21 33 14

Awards and honours[edit]

Career
Award Year Ref.
EJC best defenceman 1971 [2]
EJC All-Star 1971 [3]
Finnish First All-Star Team 1974–75, 1977–78
1978–79, 1982–83
1985–86
[3]
SM-liiga top defenceman 1977–78, 1978–79
1985–86
SM-liiga most effective player
Top plus-minus
1977–78
Played in NHL All-Star Game 1982 [3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Proudfoot, Dan (1975). Pro Hockey: WHA 75–76. Simon & Schuster Canada. p. 92. 
  2. ^ a b c Ornest, Leo, ed. (1980). Calgary Flames Fact Book 1980–81. Calgary Flames Hockey Club. p. 23. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Pekka Rautakallio profile". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2013-11-09. 
  4. ^ a b c Podnieks, Andrew (2003). Players: The ultimate A–Z guide of everyone who has ever played in the NHL. Toronto: Doubleday Canada. p. 710. ISBN 0-385-25999-9. 
  5. ^ "Pekka Rautakallio player card". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2013-11-09. 
  6. ^ Pakarinen, Risto (2013-04-25). "Aces of Finland; Assat Pori wins its third Finnish championship". States News Service. Retrieved 2013-11-09.  – via Highbeam (subscription required)
  7. ^ Duhatschek, Eric (1980-12-30). "Flames win with Pekka". Flames Magazine (Calgary Flames Hockey Club). p. 33. 
  8. ^ Ornest, Leo, ed. (1981). Calgary Flames Fact Book 1981–82. Calgary Flames Hockey Club. p. 31. 
  9. ^ Hanlon, Peter; Kelso, Sean, eds. (2007). 2007–08 Calgary Flames Media Guide. Calgary Flames Hockey Club. p. 130. 
  10. ^ Vilf, Aleksandr (2012-11-05). "KHL: Dinamo Riga fires coach Rautakallio". RIA Novosti. Retrieved 2013-11-09. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
first winner
Tapio Levo
Winner of the Pekka Rautakallio trophy
1977–78 and 1978–79
1985–86
Succeeded by
Reijo Ruotsalainen
Hannu Virta
Preceded by
first winner
Winner of the Matti Keinonen trophy
1977–78
Succeeded by
Veli-Pekka Ketola
Preceded by
Matti Hagman
Captain of HIFK
1985–1987
Succeeded by
Matti Hagman
Preceded by
Hannu Saintula
Hannu Virta
Head coach of Blues
1998
2004–05
Succeeded by
Hannu Saintula
Kari Heikkilä
Preceded by
Július Šupler
Head coach of Dinamo Riga
2011–12
Succeeded by
Artis Ābols