Kaapo Kakko loses Tuomo Ruutu as he leaves Rangers to become Panthers assistant coach
The New York Rangers lost Tuomo Ruutu to the Florida Panthers. Ruutu was instrumental in Kaapo Kakko’s transition to North America after being drafted in 2019.
He was assistant director of player development with the Rangers last season and will now become an assistant coach in Florida.
“We are proud to welcome Tuomo to the Panthers and to receive him as a member of Joel’s coaching staff,” said the Panthers general manager. Bill Zito. “With his hockey career spanning decades, we believe his experience both as a player and in player development in the NHL and internationally will be an invaluable addition to our organization as we are preparing for an exciting 2021-2022 campaign. ”
Tuomo Ruutu helped Kappo Kakko
During his rookie season, I spoke with Pasi Tuominen who was responsible for covering Kakko for the Finnish media. We discussed its adaptation to North America after leaving Finland.
Question: It is well known that Kakko misses the house and that not having Finnish players in the squad makes things more difficult, has he explained how he handles this? Did he say he would like to have a Finnish teammate?
A: Well, it’s clear that a Finnish company wouldn’t mind. During training camp he stayed with compatriot Finn Tarmo Reunanen and obviously enjoyed it (by the way, Reunanen didn’t make the cut and is doing well with Lukko Rauma in the Liiga now). Additionally, (Deputy Director of Player Development) Tuomo Ruutu spent time in New York helping Kaapo and other young players.
“Being away from Finnish-speaking family and friends is an essential part of Kaapo’s learning process,” Tuominen continued. “Early Finnish NHL players like Jari Kurri had to do without a lot of support from the Finns, and after a rough start everything went well. Kaapo too, but there will be growing pains.
Ruutu certainly helped Kakko adjust. We wish Ruutu every success in his new role.