Janne Laukkanen was born and raised in Lahti, Finland, where the number one sport is Nordic skiing in all its various forms, from jumping to gliding cross-country through the forest. It wasn't until he left Lahti and the Reipas hockey club behind him that he started to make an impact in Finland.
At the junior level, he was already established as a star and as such played on the various national teams. In his first major tournament, the under-18 European Championship in 1988, he won a silver medal. But the beginning of bigger and better things came in the summer of 1991, when the HPK Hameenlinna club snapped up Laukkanen. The Hockey Playing Knights, known as HPK on their crest, changed their strategy during the summer. Instead of going for established players, they picked three up-and-coming stars in Laukkanen, Juha Ylonen and Jarkko Varvio.
Laukkanen is always looking for plenty of ice time. He feels that it is the best way to develop and he admits that the years in Hameenlinna were his springboard into the NHL. As springboards and stepping stones go, an even bigger opportunity came along when national team coach Pentti Matikainen added him to the Finland roster for the 1991 Canada Cup tournament.
In the spring of 1992 he played twice for Finland, first in the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, and then in the World Championship in the former Czechoslovakia. In their next World Championship, the Finns and Laukkanen made the finals once again with an even more impressive showing. At the end of regulation time, the score was 1-1 on an assist by Laukkanen. But when it came down to the crunch, Canada picked the longest straw and the game was decided once again with penalty shots. The current coach of the Finnish national team thought enough of Laukkanen to add him to the roster for the final game of the 1998 World Championship, where he helped Finland pick up a silver medal.
Even in the summer of 1991, as Laukkanen was about to join HPK, he was a Quebec Nordiques eighth-round draft pick. In the fall of 1994 he finally joined the Nords but played the bulk of his games with Cornwall in the AHL. In his second season, he moved with the team to Colorado and then the Ottawa Senators, but again most of the season was spent in Cornwall. In his third season, in Ottawa, he began to establish himself as a bona fide NHLer. Towards the end of the 1999-00 season, he moved to his fourth NHL club, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After the better part of three seasons in Pittsburgh, Laukkanen joined the Tampa Bay Lightning, however he only saw action in a handful of games before joining the New York Rangers AHL affiliate in Hartford.