Kalle Kaskinen sweats it out in his backyard on this uncharacteristically warm April day in Turku, Finland. He’s renovating his garden and terrace. It’s a huge project that will keep him outside for weeks. He’s content. And yet he isn’t.
He can’t believe he’s not standing behind a bench staring at a sheet of ice right now. He coaches TPS of the Liiga, Finland’s top league, and his squad got bounced from the playoffs in the quarterfinal a couple weeks earlier. The defeat still stings. At least the garden offers a serene escape from hockey. Mention the name Kaapo Kakko, however, and Kaskinen will gladly drop his tools to talk.
“Anything for Kaapo,” he says.
He makes no attempt to hide his reverence for his star pupil. Kaskinen first met Kakko when he was 15 – competing way above hi...