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Mikka Virkkunen Trophy - the less known stories


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Mikka Virkkunen was a dominant player in VHL. In his rookie year during season 14, he scored 78 points in 72 games. That season was one of two seasons when he scored under 100 points. Virkkunen retired after season 21. He played 576 games in VHL and scored 881 points. Virkkunen won two championships. He was inducted into the hall of fame in season 22.


Mikka was a strong leader on and off the ice.  He made sure that the games he played in were tough but fair.  He made sure that every player respects each other and the referees.  Many might know that VHL had the ''Mikka Virkkunen Trophy'', which was handed out for the most sportsmanlike player. Virkkunen won the award three times.




Where did Virkkunen get his leadership qualities? Not much is known about Virkkunen and his background. What we do know is that he was born in Turku, Finland. I had some extra time earlier this week, so I visited the Turku City Library, where you can read old magazines. They are readable in digital format. I wanted to see if the name Virkkunen comes up. Guess what? The name Virkkunen pops up quite a few times before Mikka Virkkunen was even born.


April 6th, 1963. ''Turun Sanomat''  mentions a fire that took down two houses in a Turku neighborhood. The houses that burned down were the Virkkunen family home and their neighbor's house. The story tells that at first, the neighbor's house was on fire. Old man Virkkunen saw the fire and tried to help his neighbor, but it was too late. The two neighbors were extremely close. They went to school together and had lived as neighbors for over 10 years at that point. Old man Virkkunen could not watch his close friend lose everything in the fire, so he decided to burn his own house down as an act of solidarity. 


Police could not find a reason why the neighbor's house burned down. The police also tried to prosecute old man Virkkunen for the fire he started on his house, but all charges were dropped as the only property damaged was the Virkkunen house.


January 15th, 1942. ''Turun Sanomat'' tells a story about two friends. Markku Virkkunen and Lauri Ylönen. Markku is the grandfather of Mikka. The two friends did what so many in Finland do during the wintertime, they went ice fishing. After multiple hours they were not able to catch anything and they had run out of bait.  Markku did not really need to catch anything as they had food at home, but he knew that Lauri was not as fortunate. They had to get something so Lauri could bring it home.


According to the story, Markku dropped his overalls and dipped his ballsack in the ice-cold hole. A few minutes later, Markku screamed and jumped up. A huge perch had taken the bait. Markku yanked the fish off his balls and killed it. He gave the fish to Lauri, and the two friends headed home. Apparently, there was something wrong with the fish. One of the worst diarrhea epidemics was traced back to the Ylönen household that day. Over 100 kids missed school during the following week.

Those are just a few stories. The main point is that when you think about the Virkkunen family and the leaders in that family, not a surprise to hear that Mikka shares his father's and grandfather's views on what is right and what is wrong. The Virkkunen family is always trying to help their fellow man any way they can.

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