MOSCOW, December 19 (R-Sport) – Finnish coach Hannu Jortikka has been fired from his post at Amur Khabarovsk with the KHL team languishing in 11th place in the Eastern Conference.
The league's easternmost team lost its last four games and now has only a slim chance of making into the playoffs.
"The contract with head coach Hannu Jortikka has been terminated," a one-line statement on the team's website said.
The 56-year-old Finn, meanwhile, rejected any blame for the team's predicament.
“In the first place, our play was influenced by difficult schedule,” Jortikka told R-Sport.
“Constant flights unsettled us and we couldn’t put in stable performances. Besides, Amur roster was stronger last year. In the offseason, we lost a lot of leading players like [Mikko] Maenpaa, [Petr] Vrana, [Igor] Ignatushkin.”
Jortikka, who led the team to its first KHL playoffs last year, claimed the team needed more time to fulfill its potential.
“I’m very disappointed with this dismissal,” he said. “I think that I worked well last year but we've had problems with the roster this season."
Alexander Blinov, whom Jortikka replaced in April 2011, is appointed an acting coach.
Jortikka becomes the ninth KHL coach to lose his job this season.
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