To The Rafters: JYP to retire Riikka Sallinen’s number

Legend gets some of the honor she deserves.

Riikka Sallinen’s number 13 is going where it belongs.

Liiga club JYP announced they’ll be retiring her number on Jan. 4, 2020 at a home game against the Lahti Pelicans. Sallinen is a native of Jyväskylä in central Finland where JYP plays; she started her career in the organization and spent 11 seasons with the women’s side.

Sallinen, 46, retired at the end of last season after a legendary career. Some highlights from her trophy case:

  • 6 World Championship bronze medals
  • 5 Finnish Championships
  • 3 European Championships
  • 2 Olympic bronze medals
  • 1 World Championship Silver/

She is the first European woman to be inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame, during her first retirement in 2010. She was a member of the Naisleijonat’s historic bronze medal team at the inaugural women’s Olympic ice hockey tournament in 1998 and won bronze again 20 years later in PyeongChang. Sallinen bid farewell to hockey in the spring of 2019 after helping Finland win their first-ever World Championship silver medal, on home ice in Espoo.

During her last season in the SDHL in 2018-2019, where she captained HV71, Sallinen averaged 1.55 points per game. Not bad for 45 years old. Not bad at all.

Q & A With Riikka Välilä

While JYP doing an incredible and 100% correct thing, YLE’s Kirsi Teiskonlahti brought up some excellent points in her column on Nov. 6:

”The surprise is not that Sallinen does not deserve attention, but that no such rapture has been seen in Finland so far,” she writes, pointing to the lack of visibility from both club teams and the Finnish Ice Hockey Association.

”The craziest thing about the whole thing is that last spring, the Female Lions created a small women’s hockey boom in Finland. Finally now it would have been a great opportunity to bring the Naisleijonat back to the minds of the people, for example by celebrating Sallinen’s career.”

Here’s hoping this is just the start of Sallinen’s victory lap. She’s earned it.

Thanks to Jarno Tuokkola for Finnish translation help.