Toni Häppölä is remembered from the SM League above all as an HIFK striker.
He also represented Aces, KalPa and Blues in the league ice.
The autumn of 2006 did not go as expected from the number one center of the Aces.
He recovered a long time from a lateral knee ligament that came the previous spring.
- I went to the weight room to train my upper body and I couldn't run.
I pulled in a 3,000-meter running test at 115 pounds and with knee support for a damn bad time: 14.45, Häppölä recalls.
Pori had high expectations for Ace after the silver season.
One day, Häppölä found himself for sale on Huuto.net.
- Apparently an ad made by an Ace fan read: Buy a slow, lazy and fat fat center.
but the girls like it, he laughs.
The starting price of Häppölä was 50,000 euros.
No shouts were seen or heard.
- Was the price a little too high?
The notification was removed quite abruptly.
It was human trafficking.
That had never happened before.
Central striker in the spring of 2004. Picture: Tea Karvinen
Häppölä's favorite number is 13. The legendary Veli-Pekka Ketola, who is the uncle of his first ex-wife, played with the frozen number.
- “Vellu” called that welcome to Pori.
You can take the number 13 if you want.
I had eyes round to see if you were serious.
Or is he trying what kind of dude I am.
- I said thank you for the glory but maybe there are long big boots to fill.
After all, no one would take a nine, even if Wayne Gretzky gave permission, Häppölä, who played in Ace number 7, sums up.
Häppölä played the best years of his career at HIFK.
He would not have wanted to leave the club for a provincial tour after the 2005-06 season.
- It was a good season, so I thought I'd get on.
That was not the case.
I already had time to accept the Aces offer after the season when HIFK got theirs.
Häppölä could have played his entire career at HIFK.
He guarded his HIFK game tube even in a tight spot, like in the 2004-05 season.
- When I had a weaker episode, HIFK suggested that I go get some momentum from Mestis.
I said I wasn't going anywhere.
I didn’t agree to that precisely because of those consecutive matches (eventually 239).
Häppölä (left) is best remembered from HIFK. Photo: PENTTI NISSINEN
The career of a player who achieved one SM silver and two bronze medals at the top of his career ended in injury in the 2010-11 season.
Even the previous spring, he played in the finals of the SM League.
TPS took the surprise championship in front of HPK’s nose.
In one of the final matches played in Turku, godparents took place.
- Before the start, someone in the stands threw a knuckle on my back, which fell on the ice between me and the TPS player.
I threw one piece of tobacco out of my lips.
Central strikers Ilari Filppula (TPS) and Ville Viitaluoma (HPK), who were preparing for the start, looked lips round, Häppölä recalls.
Häppölä makes sense that today at least one of all the cameras inside the hall would have recorded a special episode.
Ten years ago, that did not happen.
- I realized that I could get someone a penalty or even a ban on playing because of my joke.
I didn’t start questioning the judge who came to the fire, but I quickly tossed the case and tobacco to the other side.
- The rapture was my humor.
And at least I don’t know that anyone else would have ever played at least the SM League finals with tobacco in their mouth.
The jokes were scarce in the summer of 2010. At that time, the annoyed back from the Häppölä army years had to be cut.
In the background was a haunted spring injury.
The bulging of the septum eventually became so bad.
- The left side of my body was in a state where I had to learn to skate again.
He played only one match at the beginning of the 2010-11 season, fired once and scored a goal for HPK in HIFK's home hall.
That was it, even though the final decision to throw goodbye to the top level took place the following spring.
A couple of days later on the way home after the exercises, he went to the pharmacy to buy drugs.
The car was hit by a relentless back pain.
- I was sweaty and pale.
My leg was missing.
I first waited with my shift number and finally threw myself in pain from the staff door.
Häppölä was rushed by ambulance from Meilahti to Töölö to the Department of Sudden Back Symptoms.
- They hit me with a spike, and it was cleared up.
If the bulge had gone into the core canal, I could have been paralyzed or lost emotions.
In order, however, the second surgery shifted into the morning.
- I ate the lunch brought by my mother, after which the surgeon came and said that now we would go to the surgery immediately.
Well, it couldn't be that because I had just eaten.
As a result, bad damage was left to the nerve.
After the operation, he began to say goodbye to the league ice.
- I was in my thirties and there would have been a demanding rehabilitation period and then a role in the third-four chain.
Realism came against.
I cried when I told my teammates about it on the team’s final trip to Latvia.
Häppölä played a respectable 421 matches in the SM League and scored 86 + 98 = 184 power points in them.
Afterwards, he gives himself a little whip.
- I put everything in the game and I succeeded when I had the opportunity to get into the Finnish Championship.
Later, I was not a self-sufficient and high-quality trainee outside of the ice.
That’s why I wasn’t as physically fit as I should have been.
I relied on my big size, dimension and skills.
Today, Häppölä occasionally follows the Finnish Championships.
- Time for each, he notes.