The family legacy of Oliver Kapanen |  JDM

The family legacy of Oliver Kapanen | JDM

EDMONTON | The Kapanen family needs no introduction in Finland. First there was Hannu, who had a brilliant playing and coaching career, then his two sons, Kimmo and Sami, and now Kasperi. The next member of the family to make a name for himself in hockey could very well do so in the Canadiens uniform.

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Oliver Kapanen, the Habs’ second-round pick in 2021, is hoping to continue the family tradition.

A rich and glorious tradition.

Hannu, Oliver’s grandfather, played 14 seasons in the Finnish Premier League, including representing Finland at the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics.

He later swapped his skates for a whistle and coached 12 seasons in Finland, 10 of them in the Liiga, the country’s top division.

His two sons Kimmo and Sami were also talked about. Kimmo, Oliver’s father, was a goaltender and enjoyed a 19-year career in professional ice hockey between Finland, Germany and Sweden.

Today he is general manager of Timra IK in the Swedish professional league (SHL). Sami was playing meanwhile
831 games in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers, and his son Kasperi still plays at Bettman Circuit with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

MENTORS

So Oliver didn’t have to look far to find mentors in his youth, starting with his grandfather Hannu.

“I talk to him every day. I don’t know much about him as a player but what I’ve heard is that he was tough and loved to slur the referees. At least that’s what he tells me. And I believe it! says the shy young man, laughing.

Hannu tries to watch his grandson’s games as often as possible.

“He watches my games and I listen to his advice a lot. He knows everything about hockey, whether it’s offense, defense, advantage or disadvantage. »

Is he as hard on himself as he is as a player?

“No, he’s quite a coward now. He plays golf and that’s it,” he laughs.

CLEVER

It can be a challenge for a young player to make a name for themselves when they come from a family as respected as the Kapanen.

However, Oliver appears to have skills that already allow him to make his mark. Without much excitement, the 19-year-old forward rose through the ranks with the Finnish team at the World Juniors. After starting the competition on the fourth line, he worked his way up to being used both shorthanded and on the second wave with the man advantage.

“He’s a very smart player, one of the smartest in the team,” coach Antti Pennanen said of him.

This intelligence, the coach believes, may well stem from growing up in a world where ice hockey was dominant.

“I think it helps him a lot. He is a very quiet young man. Sami and Kasperi stood out more for their intensity and aggressiveness and I think Oliver could learn a little bit from them in that regard. Sometimes he’s a little too nice at the rink. On the other hand, he is the smartest player in the family. »