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After that he started coaching. In SM-liiga he has coached HPK in autumn 1997 before being sacked, as well as Kärpät in 2001-04 and Blues in 2005-07. He won the championship with Kärpät in 2004 and got silver medal the year before.
He has also coached Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in Russia, with major success. In 2005 he coached them to bronze, in 2008 and 2009 to silver. On August 16, 2010 Kari Heikkilä signed three-year contract with the Belarusian Ice Hockey Association.