Finnish winger Janne Pesonen, a regular on the Leijonat’s World Championship squads, today retired from pro hockey at age 38 after spending his final season with Kärpät of the Liiga.
Pesonen joined Kärpät’s junior system in 1999, debuting for the senior squad in 2002. After spending seven seasons in the Liiga, Pesonen, a late 2004 NHL Draft pick of Anaheim, signed a two-way deal with Pittsburgh in 2008, spending just seven games in the NHL, instead spending the majority of the season with their minor league affiliate. Pesonen returned to Europe and joined Kazan of the KHL, winning the Gagarin Cup in his first season. He would stay with Kazan for four more seasons, with a one-year stint with HIFK in Finland in between, before joining Skellefteå of the SHL for two seasons. Pesonen then bounced between Ambrì-Piotta of the Swiss League, Växjö of the SHL, and finally Kärpät in his final four seasons. Pesonen was also a four-time Liiga champion (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008) and one-time SHL champion (2018), and won Liiga honours for Rookie Of The Year (2004), Playoff MVP (2007) and Points Leader (2008).
While not a member of any Finnish junior teams, Pesonen first joined the Leijonat on its Euro hockey Tour squad in 2003, not debuting at the World Championships until after his NHL stint. Pesonen would play at five Worlds (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2018), winning Gold in his debut as part of Finland’s thrilling 2011 victory over rivals Sweden. While Pesonen would not medal again after his debut, he was a regular on the Euro Hockey Tour squads from 2009-19, helping Finland to tour victories in 2004, 2010, 2014 and 2018.
Over his career, Pesonen captured the IHLC five times, bookended by wins on the Euro Hockey Tour first in 2006, with his last coming in 2019. We wish Janne and his family the very best for his retirement and the things to come!