HELSINKI -- Hall of Famer Jari Kurri charmed the hockey world as an Edmonton Oiler, but he also played for the Kings, the Rangers, the Avalanche – and the Ducks. And, like Teemu Selanne, he came up through the Jokerit Helsinki junior system.
On Tuesday, the great hockey ambassador was at the preseason game between the Ducks and Jokerit here at Hartwall Areena, and took some time to talk with NHL.com.
Q: Have you enjoyed the NHL Premiere week?
Kurri: It's great fun. Tomorrow, I'll meet some of Anaheim's fans, and then I'll go on the ice before the game for the ceremonial faceoff. They'll make me an honorary member of Jokerit, the club. But other than that, nothing special. Just looking forward to the games. It'll be fun to watch good hockey games, and especially with so many Finns on the ice.
Q: You've known Teemu Selanne for a long time. Are you surprised at the fact that he’s still playing?
Kurri: Teemu was supposed to retire five years ago, but like he's said publicly many times, he really just still enjoys playing. And he had a great season last year, so he's got no rush to spend his retirement days. There'll many of those, too.
I guess one day he'll have to give it up, but not just yet.
Q: What do you think is his secret?
Kurri: Often as players get older, they have to change something in the game as their roles get smaller. And Teemu doesn't play that much anymore, nothing crazy, under 20 minutes a game. And then on power play of course, which is important.
But it's amazing how fast he still is. The guy's got some unusual, super-fast cells in his muscles.
Q: How important is this game for Jokerit, your old team?
Kurri: I'm sure the Jokerit players will enjoy this game. It's a smaller ice surface, which makes it a little special for them, and then this gives them a chance to see how they measure up against NHLers, how fast the game is, how the puck battles are.
Q: What are your expectations for the crowd's reaction when Teemu's name is announced?
Kurri: It’s going to be wild.