In Valtonen We Trust! Tomek Valtonen has been named the head coach of team Poland. He will also be coaching Podhale Nowy Targ, who compete in the top level of Polish hockey league. Valtonen steps into quite a challenge with team Poland. The team was relegated to Division 1B last year and face very big financial problems that will be more clear when the PZHL’s audit is complete. The biggest goals for Valtonen will be to get Poland back to the elite division, help gets Poland youth training get to a better place, and bring stability to the national team that it has been missing.
Valtonen is a former Finnish-Polish player, who played a physical game. He as a 2nd round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 1998. He would play one season in North America for the Plymouth Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League. After that, he returned to Finland, where he played 8 straight seasons with Jokerit in the Liiga. He would retire in 2009 playing one for more season with Jokerit after he played only 4 games in the Swedish Elite League. In total, Valtonen would record 68 goals and 65 assists in 421 games along with 738 penalty minutes. He would also play over 90 games with Finland’s national team.
Right after he retired from playing at the age of 29, Valtonen went into coaching. He was an assistant coach for Jokerit’s u20 team. The following season, he would take over as head coach for the U20 team and hold the role for two seasons. Valtonen moved up to professional hockey as an assistant coach for Jokerit. This same year, he also served as an assistant on Finland’s World Junior team. The following year Vlatonen would already get his professional head coaching chance with Jokerit after replacing Tomi Lämsä midseason. Jokerit would not retain him and Valtonen would take a head coaching job with Vaasan Sport. He would hold the title from 2014-2018.
His job in Podhale should allow him to get acquainted with plenty of key national team players including Przemyslaw Odrobny, Patryk Wajda, Krystian Dziubinski, Marcin Kolusz, and Krzysztof Zapala. Podhale was able to capture bronze in the PHL last year and will look to replicate that again under Valtonen. Joining Valtonen on Podhale is former Jokerit junior coach, Marko Ronkko. Ronkko was an assistant coach for U16, U18, and U20 Jokerit junior teams from 2003 to 2015.