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Kurri hopes Selanne keeps on playing

by Curtis Zupke
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Call it lucky timing that Jari Kurri was in Anaheim to see the Ducks play on Wednesday night.

Kurri planned the trip about two months ago -- it's part of his annual scouting tour as general manager for Finland's national team. But it just so happened that his visit came two days after Anaheim's Teemu Selanne moved past Kurri for 19th on the NHL's all-time scoring list and replaced him as the highest-scoring Finnish-born player in League history.

Kurri said he sees no reason for the 41-year-old Selanne to retire. Selanne has indicated this will be his final season, but hasn't announced a decision.

"I hope he keeps playing," Kurri said during a pregame chat with the media. "Why stop? I know him. He wants to win. He wants to do well. He's playing well. I don't see any reason why (he should) stop. He's having a good time."

Kurri said he hasn't chatted with Selanne about how Selanne defies time. Selanne entered Wednesday's game leading Anaheim with 59 points. Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry, a scratch with a bad back, is second with 55.

"I recognize how much work he does, how much he takes care of himself," Kurri said. "After that knee injury he had (during the 2004-05 work stoppage), he really wanted to come back and prove to everybody that he could be a good player. He really changed everything – training and eating. He really takes care of himself. Nobody can figure out how he can get the speed up. That's amazing, for sure."

Kurri, of course, would like Selanne and Saku Koivu, 37, among others, to play for Finland with the World Championship tournament in Helsinki and Stockholm in May. But Kurri said his recruiting is on hold so NHL players can focus on the rest of the season -- although unless the Ducks can make a miraculous run, they will miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs, leaving Selanne and Koivu free to play for Finland.

"We'll give them a few more games to see what happens," Kurri said. "That's why we always come here. (We talk to the) head coach and (ask) what's going on and how they're doing and how they're feeling."

Kurri and Selanne go way back. Selanne used to have Kurri's poster on his wall growing up, and Kurri said Selanne was in his hockey school at 20. They were teammates in Anaheim in the 1996-97 season and on various Finnish national teams.

Kurri said he was flying from Dubai to Munich when Selanne broke his record on Monday night.

"I'm really happy," Kurri said. "I've known him for many, many years. We're good friends. We played lots of hockey together. I had a chance to play with him one year here in Anaheim. It's good to be around. Everybody's very happy for him to do it right now. We want him to keep going. Why stop right now?"
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