Finnish forward Mika Pyörälä, a mainstay of Oulun Kärpät for the majority of his twenty-two year pro hockey career, announced his retirement from the game following Kärpät’s elimination from the 2022 Liiga postseason, at the age of 40.
An Oulu native, Pyörälä first joined his hometown team’s youth club in 1996, debuting for the senior team in 2001. Of his 22 pro seasons, Pyörälä would spend fifteen in the Liiga, leaving after his first seven seasons with short stints in Timrå, Frölunda and Luleå (Sweden), Philadelphia (NHL), Khabarovsk (KHL) and Bern (Switzerland). While he did not find much success in the major North American or Russian pro leagues, or other national leagues, Pyörälä retires a five-time Liiga Champion (2004, 2005, 2007, 2014, 2015), winning league awards in 2017 for Best Player and the Golden Helmet. Pyörälä retires with 448 points in 749 career Liiga regular season games, with another 78 points in 136 playoff games, missing the Liiga postseason just twice in his fifteen years.
Despite not playing for the national junior team, Pyörälä would become a mainstay of the Leijonat starting in 2003, making regular appearances on the Euro Hockey Tour. Pyörälä debuted the World Championships in 2007, his first of seven (2007-2009, 2011-12, 2016-17) appearances, capturing Gold in 2011, a pair of Silver medals in 2007 and 2016, and a Bronze in 2008. Pyörälä made his lone Olympic appearance at the 2018 Games in Korea, and was part of three winning Euro Hockey Tour squads in 2004, 2014 and 2018.
Pyörälä would capture the IHLC eight times in his career, first in 2006 on the Euro Hockey Tour, with the last coming in the prelude to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. We wish Mika and his family the very best for his retirement and the things to come!