The women of Espoo United breathed a sigh of relief this morning. Their entry into the Naisten Liiga was confirmed, the team was rechristened Blues Espoo, and their offseason anxiety ended. They will play.
The team faced an uncertain future after they were unceremoniously dumped last month by Espoo United owner Jussi Salonoja in a bid to save money for the second-tier men’s squad. With several Naisleijonat players on the roster, time ticking down to the start of the season, and PyeongChang on the horizon, finding a solution was imperative.
“It's great that we got things organized and Espoo joined the Women's League with less than two weeks to start in Tampere,” Naisten Liiga president Kari Mänty told leijonat.fi this morning.
The previous Blues incarnation won 13 championships prior to the organization’s 2016 bankruptcy. The new team will don the old logo and will play their home games in Espoo’s Tapiola district.
Instead of playing under a larger organization’s umbrella, Blues Espoo is represented in the league by their own association, Ysikoppi. The Finnish Ice Hockey Association approved the motion this morning, much to the relief of Ysikoppi board member Emma Terho:
“The team has several athletes aiming at the February Olympics, so it is paramount to be able to offer them a high-quality everyday environment for this goal,” she told YLE.