Nieminen, who worked for the Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets for 16 seasons, passed away on June 11, the day before his wedding.
Current and former team executives, coaches, players and staffers, as well as friends and family members, attended the ceremony. General Manager Don Maloney and captain Shane Doan
were among the speakers.
Nieminen was a talented, dedicated and valued behind-the-scenes member of the team, and he will be missed by many people in many ways.
Doan noted that while Jukka had touched every player with his hands as the massage therapist, he had also touched them all with his fun-loving spirit. Others spoke about how proud Jukka was to be a native of Finland and also how proud he was to have become an American citizen. And team chaplain Jeff Farrar suggested that when friends and loved ones think of Jukka they remember just how delicate and precious life is and to enjoy each moment.EDITOR'S NOTE:
to watch the video played at Jukka Nieminen's memorial ceremony.
Nieminen is survived by two daughters - Alexandra and Caroline. A memorial fund has been established specifically for the future education of his daughters. Donations to the fund can be sent to:Jukka Nieminen Memorial Fund
c/o Stan Wilson
Phoenix Coyotes Hockey Club
6751 N. Sunset Blvd., Suite 200
Glendale, AZ 85305
There is a very poignant line at the end of the movie The Wizard of Oz. After giving the Tin Man a heart, the Wizard pauses briefly and says: “And remember, my sentimental friend, that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”
Considering the kind words spoken about him at Saturday’s ceremony and in the days since his passing, it’s safe to say Jukka’s heart was huge.
Here’s a sampling:
“Jukka worked 16 years for the Phoenix/Winnipeg franchise, which is a real testament to his character, dedication and work ethic. His work in keeping our players healthy and rehabbing injuries was second to none in the National Hockey League. He was a good man who will be missed.” – Don Maloney, General Manager
"I will always remember Jukka as having one of the biggest personalities in the room. With his thick Finnish accent and great sense of humor, he found ways to make people laugh yet he was always very kind and helpful to people around him. It will never be the same without him." – Sergey Kocharov, Director of Media Relations
“I'm not sure how the Coyotes will move forward without Jukka. But I know that they will. And I know things will never be the same. He was a larger-than-life figure that went beyond the scope of his job title. I'd give anything to have him mock out the size of my luggage one more time. And then wink at me.” – Todd Walsh, TV/Radio Host
"I enjoyed some of the best times of my life hanging out with that man. While players come and go, Jukka was always there. He wasn't just a co-worker, Jukka was like a brother. When you spend 24 hours, seven days a week together, you become family. We spent more time together as a team than we did with our own families. As a result, you become a tight-knit group and form a lifelong bond. There is a hole in our hearts now as he will be deeply missed." – Rick Braunstein, Team Travel Coordinator