Finnish power defender Jere Karalahti today announced his retirement from the Swedish club HV71, ending a sometimes tumultuous career in the NHL, KHL, and Finnish, Swedish and German premier leagues at the age of 41.
Karalahti began his career with HIFK of the Finnish Liiga, in 1994, despite being drafted a year earlier by the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings brought Karalahti to California in 1999, spending three seasons with L.A. before a trade to Nashville in 2002. A drug possession case led to an NHL suspension that saw him sit out the entire 2003-04 season before returning to HIFK, serving as captain for one season. Karalahti then bounced between teams and countries, spending time with Kärpät (one season), Hamburg (two seasons), Blues (one season), Dynamo Minsk (two seasons), Jokerit (two seasons), with his final two seasons spent with HV71.
For the Leijonnat, Karalahti first joined the senior team at the 1998 World Championships, winning silver. Karalahti would suit up for Finland at six more World Championships in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2014, winning silver again in 1999 and 2014, and a bronze in 2000. Karalahti’s drug suspension deemed him ineligible for Finland’s second place World Cup squad in 2004.
Karalahti won his first IHLC on the 2005 Euro Hockey Tour, winning twice more in his career – on the Tour again in 2006, and during Finland’s run to the World Championship Final in 2014. We wish Jere and his family the very best for his retirement and the things to come!