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Lehtinen headlines Finnish World Cup staff

Group also features Numminen, Selanne, Koivu and Timonen

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Team Finland on Wednesday announced a management team heavy on NHL experience for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. 

The contingent is led by general manager Jere Lehtinen, assistant general manager Jarmo Kekalainen and assistant coach Teppo Numminen and includes features advisors Saku Koivu, Teemu Selanne and Kimmo Timonen. 

Lehtinen said he believes the management group built around coach Lauri Marjamaki can be a successful one.

"Timonen, Selanne and Marjamaki worked together already in the [2014] Sochi Olympics," he said. Marjamaki was an assistant coach and Timonen and Selanne were veteran leaders. "Players got to know Marjamaki and they saw how he works. They were instantly on the same page. They appreciate Marjamaki as a coach. Marjamaki also had a big desire to get these guys on board. He wants to learn consistently and it was important to get experience and vision regarding the North American hockey." 

Lehtinen, a star for the Dallas Stars during 14 NHL seasons, retired from the League in 2010. He earned medals in four Olympics for Finland and won a World Championship gold medal in 1995 as the highlight of four medals he won in that competition. 

He will be assisted by Kekalainen, who is the general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets after a long, successful tenure as assistant general manager and director of scouting for the St. Louis Blues. He became the first European-born GM in League history when hired by the Blue Jackets in 2013. 

Marjamaki coaches Karpat in Liiga, Finland's top professional league. He was named coach of the Finland national team in 2015 and the World Cup will be his second major tournament in charge, following the 2016 IIHF World Championship in April. 

He will be assisted by Numminen, Waltteri Immonen, Kalle Kaskinen and goalie coach Ari Hilli. Numminen is the only one of that group with NHL experience. He played 1,372 games in 20 seasons with the Winnipeg Jets/Arizona Coyotes franchise, Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars. He retired in 2009, and spent three seasons as an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres. 

"It was important to get Teppo Numminen on board because of his experience as an NHL assistant coach," Lehtinen said. 

Team Finland's advisory board features three recently retired NHL stars. 

Koivu, the captain of the Montreal Canadiens for a decade before finishing his career with a five-season run with the Anaheim Ducks, retired in 2014 after playing 1,124 NHL games. 
  
Selanne played 1,451 NHL games during stops in Winnipeg, Anaheim and with the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche. Selanne, who scored 684 goals during his NHL career, is the highest scoring Finnish-born player in League history. He retired in 2014. 

Timonen, a defenseman, played 1,108 NHL games with the Nashville Predators, Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks. He won the Stanley Cup in 2015 after a trade to Chicago from Philadelphia and announced his retirement soon after. 

"We talked with Kimmo Timonen also in the summer," Lehtinen said. "He was interested, lives in the U.S. and he was very interested. He helps a lot in the scouting. Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne bring experience and knowhow. We all have experience from tournaments like this. The situation with the new head coach is new to all and the big tournament is the first experience for Lauri, and because of that it was very important to get Koivu onboard. Selanne will also help in scouting." 

The 2016 World Cup of Hockey will take place at Air Canada Centre in Toronto from Sept. 17-Oct. 1. Group A will consist of Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team USA and Team Europe. Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden and Team North America will be in Group B. All games will be televised by ESPN in the United States, and Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.

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