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Lumme lands in right place at right time -- Part one

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John Iaboni

John Iaboni has been covering the Maple Leafs and the NHL for nearly 30 years. For the last 10 years, he has been the managing editor of the team's game day magazine and now you can share his exclusive inside access.

Sometimes things just don't work out. Despite his best intentions, Jyrki Lumme's tenure with the Dallas Stars lasted 15 games and he termed the experience as the "wrong place at the wrong time."

After clearing waivers, the newswires indicated he was ticketed for the Utah Grizzlies. But that changed on November 21 when the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired the veteran defenceman for little-used defender Dave Manson.

That marked the second time that Pat Quinn, now the Leafs general manager and head coach, had acquired the native of Tampere, Finland. On March 6, 1990, Quinn - as GM of the Vancouver Canucks - obtained Lumme from the Montreal Canadiens.

Lumme was a member of the 1996 Finnish World Cup team.
(Credit: Rick Stewart/Allsport)
Lumme's stay in Vancouver was memorable. He helped Vancouver to the Stanley Cup final in 1994 and, his contributions from 1990 to 1998, resulted in his selection to the 30 Greatest Canucks in recognition of the organization's 30 seasons in the National Hockey League.

Lumme signed as a free agent with the Phoenix Coyotes in 1998 and was dealt to Dallas last June. With his family, wife Minna and young children Bea and Viivi, electing to stay in Finland rather than join him in the U.S., Lumme was troubled by the situation.

That's why the trade to Toronto was even more important. The family will be reunited in Canada once Lumme finds the time from the busy hockey schedule to find a home.

"The family can come here now and that's probably the biggest relief of all," he says.

While it appears the deal from Dallas to Toronto went relatively smoothly, Lumme admits that he endured some anxious moments.

"I sure had jitters because you never know if it's going to work out," Lumme says. "But I sure felt good when I heard that they were interested in me and I just was willing to do anything to be able to come here. Those couple of days, mentally I was all up and down and every half an hour I'd go, I don't know what's going to happen and next thing you know it's, this looks great and then next you know you think this isn't going to happen. Sure I was excited to come here. There are a lot of guys here that I played with before and although I played in Vancouver, I know Toronto probably better than any other city in the league. So all those factors made the move really good."

How is he so familiar with Toronto?

"Well, we spent some time here," he says. "I've been here on holidays actually. I've done the tourist thing like the zoo and the ROM and Niagara Falls and stuff like that. Plus I know quite a few people who live here. It was great to come back to Canada - and especially to come here."

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