We had the team we had. I am proud of the players, said coach Jalonen

We had the team we had. I am proud of the players, said coach Jalonen

We had the team we had. I'm tired of the players ;, coach Jalonen said

Hockey World Championship match – quarter-finals: Czech Republic – USA, May 25, 2023, Tampere. Czech coach Kari Jalonen after the lost match.

Tampere – Coach Kari Jalonen led the Czech hockey team to the first medal at a major tournament in ten years at the World Championship in Tampere last year, this year he had to do it at the same place in his native country with the team deal with retaliation from the US. Last year, the Czechs outshot them in the duel for the bronze and won after a turnaround 8:4, today they lost 0:3 in the quarterfinals.

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“It's disappointing for all of us. Today's match and the fact that we can't fight for medals. In the last three matches, that is against Switzerland, Canada and now America. We performed poorly offensively. We somehow got stuck,” Jalonen told reporters . “Offensively we had a problem. It was very similar. No goal today. This was one of the things… We just didn't have the strength to create scoring chances and score. We couldn't take advantage when the opponent lost the puck. We didn't have chances ,” he calculated.

Of the players regularly appearing in the NHL, he only had goalkeeper Karel Vejmelka from Arizona and forward Dominik Kubalík from Detroit, as well as Filip Chytil from the New York Rangers, who was injured in the second game and the tournament ended for him just as it did for Lukáš Sedlák from Pardubice. He also had starts in the NHL during the season, defender Jakub Zbořil from Boston and forward Martin Kaut from San Jose started irregularly in the best league in the world.

“I don't want to talk about that. We had the team that we had. I'm proud of the players. We had almost ten players that went through the entire training camp. And I want to thank them. For the tournament and for the whole year. It's not worth talking about, whether I missed someone or not. We had this team here… Maybe we were a little unlucky in losing Sedlak and Chytil,” Jalonen stated.

“Sure, I'm disappointed, but in this job, you have to respect the result. That's right. When you win, it's great. But when you lose, you have to accept it. America has a very good team, they played good hockey. We believed we could go on. But whatever I said, we have to respect it,” he pointed out.

He did not want to compare with last year, when he had personalities like David Pastrňák, David Krejčí, Tomáš Hertl or Filip Hronk in the defense. “I don't want to compare teams. You can't do this. Last year was different. If I compared it, it wouldn't be right. Especially towards the players,” Jalonen said. “The main thing on my mind right now is that I'm disappointed. I have to look at all the games again, analyze them. To know that we didn't have that much power offensively in the last three games.”

He was saddened by the intimate atmosphere in the Nokia Arena in the quarter-finals. “This is a bit sad even for the fans. That we had to travel here,” he pointed to the support that the Czech supporters created for the group in Riga. “But that's the way it is. The tournament was supposed to be in Russia, but everyone knows why it's in Latvia and Finland. When it's in one country, it's better for the fans.”

Jalonen took over the national team after the recalled Filip Pešán last March, after the Czechs did not advance to the quarterfinals for the first time at a major event and finished ninth at the February Olympics in Beijing. After last year's bronze medal, the Finnish coach now finished eighth with the team, which is the worst position in the history of the WC. And the second worst at world events just after Beijing. “It's not like it doesn't matter. We have to respect it. If we're eighth, then we're eighth. We're not going to do anything about it now,” he said.

Twelve players from his squad were at the WC for the first time – defenders Tomáš Dvořák, Jan Košťálek, David Němeček, Ronald Knot, Zboril and forwards Kaut, Sedlák, Zohorna, Ondřej Beránek, Filip Chlapík, Daniel Voženílek, David Tomášek. Knot and Sedlák, who also has extensive experience in the NHL, had already been to the Olympics in Beijing before. He did not look for a problem in the lack of experience. “I wouldn't see it in that. Now they already have the experience of one World Championship,” added Jalonen.

He didn't want to answer the question of whether he had the energy to continue. He has a contract until the WC in Prague next year. “I'm not going to answer that. I don't want to speculate. It's not my job,” said the 63-year-old coach, who led Finland to silver at the World Cup in 2016. He joined the Czech national team under the former president of Czech hockey, Tomáš Král, who was replaced by Alois Hadamczik. Jalonen has no idea what his position will be after this year's failure. “The pressure is everywhere. I have to take it that way.”

He thanked the team in the cabin after the tournament. “I told the players that everyone has to learn to be able to win. But we have to respect that we lost. Of course I shook their hands and thanked them for the whole World Cup,” he explained. Gunner Dominik Kubalík took the blame on himself after the game for not asserting himself at an important moment. “This is a team sport. It's not Kubalík. The team loses, the team wins. Always. It's never an individual. I don't understand that anyone should blame themselves,” he said.

The sadness of elimination will be the coach who managed in 2025 to the finals in the KHL Lva Praha, will absorb. “It will take a long time. I have to take a little rest and then analyze everything with the assistants (Libor Zábranský and Martin Erat). Break it down. I will go to Prague with the team, then we will see what happens,” Jalonen added.