Obituary: Vesa Pennanen

I am deeply shocked and saddened to have to announce that legendary Lions’ netminder, Vesa Pennanen (“Wes the Great”), passed away on Friday following a period of illness.

I’m sure many who followed the Lions in the 80s will remember Vesa’s incredible skill between the pipes. Together with Janne Lehti and Ari Arvila they formed the invincible trio of Flying Finns that won so much success for the team.

Back then, when I was just a kid, I was allowed to go into the changing rooms to get Vesa’s autograph. I still have the photo of me sitting on his knee and I was so chuffed to have spoken with him!

Vesa contacted me a few years ago and provided me with a wealth of information and photos from his time with the Lions. He was still involved in hockey, coaching youngsters.

Vesa is fondly remembered by anyone I’ve spoken to who ever met him. He leaves wife Marjo, son Nico and daughter Nina, who courageously let me know that her father has died.

Vesa was an incredible player, a wonderful person and a true hockey legend, a man who will never be forgotten. Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.