Donskoi sees his Kraken jersey being retired… in a skatepark!
Joonas Donskoi saw his jersey hoisted on Friday, even though he is still in the middle of his playing career.
Although it didn’t take place at the Climate Pledge Arena or even in North America, the gesture was certainly significant for the Seattle Kraken forward. Donskoi was recognized by his hometown of Raahe, Finland for his efforts to save a popular local skateboard park with a generous donation in 2019.
For Donskoi, a skateboarding enthusiast growing up, the decision to make the donation turned out to be an easy one. The community of Raahe, a town of approximately 25,000 residents, wanted to show their appreciation.
Valtteri Karjula, co-founder of the park [avec Henri Ylikulju] and a friend of Donskoi, organized Friday’s event after three years of preparation. Donskoi was originally scheduled to visit his hometown and the skateboard park in 2020, but concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have limited travel and altered the NHL schedule.
People from the Raahe community showed up in large numbers to show their appreciation for Donskoi. The veteran striker signed autographs and posed for photos with the spectators. Karjula posted some photos on social media.
Donskoi was also presented with a skateboard painted in the image of a wall in the old part of Raahe, a nod by the natives of the community to the town’s main tourist attraction. The board was painted by local artist Pentti Vuori.
Karjula, Ylikulju and Donskoi addressed the crowd before hoisting an autographed number 72 Kraken jersey to the ceiling, where it will remain as long as the building is standing, according to the co-founders.
« This skateboard park has been around for 10 years, and after Joonas’ donation, we haven’t had any financial difficulties, » Karjula said. Joonas’ donation was really important. »
Pictures: Jasmine Paloniemi