Reijo Ruotsalainen, who is considered to be one of the best Finnish defenders, began his hockey career in 1975 with Kärpät Oulu and played there until 1981. He won a Finnish title with them in 1981 and in 1980 and 1981 he was named as the best defenseman of the SM-liiga. In 1981 Ruotsalainen joined the New York Rangers and played there until 1986 when he joined the Edmonton Oilers. In 1987 he played on a Stanley Cup champion with the Oilers. After his Stanley Cup victory Ruotsalainen returned to Europe and played one season in Sweden with HV71 and one season in Switzerland with SC Bern, before returning to the NHL. Ruotsalainen played only one season during his second trip to the NHL, with the New Jersey Devils and the Oilers in 1989-90. In 1990 he won a second Stanley Cup with the Oilers and again returned to Europe after the victory. From 1990-93 he played with SC Bern, from 1993-1994 with Kärpät, then one season again with SC Bern and from 1995-96 with Zürich SC Lions, before finishing his career with Kärpat in 1996-98. Internationally Ruotsalainen won silver at the 1988 Olympics and bronze at the 1985 European Championships. He also played with the Finnish 1978, 1979, 1981 and 1989 World Championships teams. After finishing his playing career, Ruotsalainen worked as an ice hockey coach. He started his coaching career in the United States, where he worked with the Miami Matadors and New Orleans Brass. In the early 2000s he coached with Kärpät, before becoming the head coach of Mikkelin Jukurit in 2006-07. From 2007-08 he coached Red Bull Salzburg.
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