Ex-jokers Jori Lehterä and Sami Lepistö comment on their transfer to HIFK: “Yes and no”

Central striker Jori Lehterä and defender Sami Lepistö are the most famous of the six reinforcements announced by HIFK on Monday.

  • For the experienced duo, the circle closes in a way.
  • Lepistö, 35, was raised by the Jokers, and even Lehterä, 38, despite his PiTa roots, has a background from the juniors of the Jokers.

In the Joker’s representative team Jori Lehterä and Sami Lepistö played together in the 2006–07 season, which was Lehterä’s first in the League and Lepistö’s last before moving to North America. In between his years abroad, Lepistö also had time to represent the Jokers in the KHL (2017–21).

Now the two are returning to Helsinki, Lehterä from Tappara and Lepistö from Switzerland, but not to the Jokers, but to HIFK, which is building a super team at least on paper.

The Jokers are just building their comeback through Mestis. However, the traditional confrontation has not been forgotten, so we have to ask if the players experienced a threshold when they moved to HIFK’s ranks.

– Yes and no, but now we are here and in a good mood, Lepistö answered.

– There was no threshold, Lehterä stated.

The goal of the Jokers – as well as Kiekko-Espoo – is to return to the SM league in the next few years. This could be realized for the 2025–26 season at the earliest.

– I think there is a good mood, Lepistö said about the project of his breeders’ club.

– There is enthusiasm and a few old faces. It’s done in peace, and I think it’s going well, although of course there’s a lot to do.

Lehterä did not comment on the matter.

– I haven’t followed terribly, it’s so bad to say.

The league’s biggest move

Jori Lehterä and Sami Lepistö came to HIFK to pursue the championship. PASI LEISMA

Last season in Tappara, Lehterä won almost everything possible, i.e. the CHL and Finnish championship and the point exchange for the playoffs. He finished second in the regular season stock market.

The question arises why the man left the successful factory in Tampere and signed a two-year contract with HIFK.

– It was a pretty easy decision when the family lives here and IFK is one of the biggest brands and clubs in Finland, he reasoned.

– The old frame remained, and in my opinion, there were really good specific procurements. A team with championship potential, and when your hunger only grows when you eat, you didn’t have to think much.

Lehterä’s merit list is such that the expectations of HIFK’s supporters are high. He is aware of it, but does not take pressure from it.

– Expectations have always been high. It was the same in Russia. In the place of the foreign quota, there had to be a result, or if it doesn’t, then it’s morjens, he referred to his KHL years 2019–22 in St. Petersburg’s SKA and Moscow’s Spartak.

– However, the most important thing is your own expectations – not what Raikka says in the stands.

High expectations

Lehterä is expected to bring improvement, for example, to the special situations that happened at HIFK last season.

– How does the team succeed, how does it score points, how does it win starts, how does it win struggles, how does it help the team, he continues the list through his own expectations.

– There is so much of everything, and every day can be different. That way, it becomes clear whether I had a good day’s work or not. You have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror.

HIFK expects Lehtera, who is known as a social person, for leadership as well – especially when new young people join the team again, such as the recently announced super promise Aron Kiviharju.

– We have a good mix of experienced team, young and so-called middle-aged hockey players. If I can do something and help the team, that’s the most important thing.