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08:40 GMT +3 hours18 December 2014
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SKA Signs Finnish National Team Coach

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Western Conference leader SKA St. Petersburg has signed Finnish national team coach Jukka Jalonen on an 18-month contract, the KHL team said Thursday.

MOSCOW, November 29 (R-Sport) - Western Conference leader SKA St. Petersburg has signed Finnish national team coach Jukka Jalonen on an 18-month contract, the KHL team said Thursday.

SKA, one of the league's richest teams, fired incumbent Milos Riha on Sunday despite the team's excellent start to the season, prompting speculation of internal rifts.

Jalonen, 52, has coached Finland since 2008, taking the nation to the 2011 world championship title, and will remain at the helm until the next world championships in May of next year.

He also claimed Olympic bronze with Finland at Vancouver 2010.

Jalonen will be presented to SKA on Friday after the team plays Spartak Moscow.

The rumors of infighting at SKA forced captain Ilya Kovalchuk to issue a forthright denial on Monday.

"All the rumors about some problems between me and Riha are nonsense,” Kovalchuk said.