According to Finnish hockey historian Hannu Kauhala, ten Finns played in the World Hockey Association (WHA) opening the NHL for Finns like Pekka Rinne, Tukka Rask, and Miro Heiskanen. Four of them played for the Phoenix Roadrunners. Pekka Rautakallio played defense during the 1975/76 and 1976/77 seasons. For the 1976/77 season, Juhani Tamminen played as left wing on the Lappline along with Seppo Repo (center) and Lauri Mononen (right wing).
In the search of talent, the WHA discovered that talent in Finland with Rautakallio and Tamminen. Rautakallio (in gold and yellow) traveled from Pori, Finland to Phoenix, Arizona. Returning to Helsinki for two years, he joined the NHL’s Flames final season in Atlanta. He stayed with the team in their move to Calgary. Two seasons later, he returned to Helsinki.
Tamminen’s journey (in shades of blue) started in Turku, Finland. He headed to Cleveland and then traded to Phoenix. The Roadrunners declared bankruptcy. Tamminen moved with the team to Oklahoma City to join the Central Hockey League. For the 1978/79 season, he returned to Turku where he finished his playing career.
Of note, Rautakallio mentioned his first apartment was a few blocks away from the Memorial Coliseum on 17th Avenue. Not many two storey buildings existed on 17th Ave. One possible candidate was sandwiched between 17th drive and 17th Ave. along Grand Ave. (Note: Lower right corner below).
Similar to the migrant workers of today and the early-20th century, Rautakallio and Tamminen came with different backgrounds and requirements. Their ability to face the challenges of migration drastically differed.
PART 1: Phoenix: Preparation for Migratory Sports
PART 2: The Coliseum’s Impact
PART 4: Pekka and Juhani: Their Migrant Story
Pekka Rautakallio (Hockey Player/Coach) in discussion with Hannu Kauhala, June 2021.
Juhani Tamminen (Hockey Player/Coach) in discussion with Hannu Kauhala, June 2021.
Kauhala, Hannu “WHA – Unelmien Liiga” 2014. ISBN: 9789526789729
Historical Aerial Photography (maricopa.gov) last accessed June 16, 2021.
HockeyDb “Phoenix Roadrunners 1976-77 roster and statistics” last accessed June 18, 2021.
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