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Centennial Portraits

Teemu Selanne, Mats Sundin portraits unveiled

Color paintings of 100 Greatest NHL Players will be revealed on NHL.com every Monday in 2017

NHL.com @NHL

As part of the NHL Centennial Celebration, renowned Canadian artist Tony Harris will paint original portraits of each of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian as chosen by a Blue Ribbon panel. NHL.com will reveal two portraits each Monday in 2017.

This week, the portraits of forwards Teemu Selanne and Mats Sundin are unveiled in the 24th installment. 

No player in NHL history got off to a faster start than Teemu Selanne, who set rookie records in 1992-93 by scoring 76 goals and finishing with 132 points with the Winnipeg Jets. He kept on scoring all the way to the end of his 21 NHL seasons (15 with the Anaheim Ducks), finishing with 684 goals and 1,457 points. 

Selanne helped the Ducks win the Stanley Cup in 2007 and was named the most valuable player of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, when he sparked Finland to the bronze medal at age 43. 

He was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on June 26.

As author Wayne Coffey writes in his NHL100 profile of Selanne, few players in NHL history radiated as much joy as the Finnish Flash:

"The night he broke the record [for goals by a rookie] with a hat trick against the Quebec Nordiques, Selanne used a trademark burst of speed to beat a Quebec defenseman before celebrating by flinging his left glove in the air and pumping fake shots into it with his stick, and then hugging his teammates.

"Such exuberance was another Selanne trademark, from the beginning of his career to the end. With chiseled good looks and an angular animation to his game, he exuded joy and looked upon attention from media and fans not as a burden but a compliment. He signed every autograph and answered almost every question. When Sports Illustrated wanted to do a major profile of him during his epic rookie year, Selanne graciously obliged. Of course, it didn't hurt that the magazine rented a sporty convertible for him to drive along the way -- roughly akin to plying a nursery-school kid with candy.

"'Every day, Teemu finds something to be happy about,' longtime teammate Paul Kariya said. '[He] gets as mad as anyone else when we lose, but I think he forgets it quickly. Teemu keeps everybody on an even keel. When things are going poorly, he's upbeat and he keeps everybody loose. When things are going well, he's the same, so we always know what to expect from him. Guys get down, but he's there picking us up.'"

 

[RELATED: Selanne began career with legendary season | Kariya credits Selanne for helping him make Hall]

 

Artist Tony Harris said he wanted to capture some of the traits that made Selanne such a feared scorer.

"Teemu Selanne had nearly 700 goals, and I asked an NHL coach what made him such a prolific goal scorer," Harris said. "Speed, of course, was his first thought but then he clarified his answer noting that Teemu's anticipation and ability to react was uncanny. For me, this painting is trying to capture that moment of jumping into the play and creating a scoring opportunity."

Mats Sundin made history in 1989 when he was the first player born and trained in Europe to be selected No. 1 in the NHL Draft, by the Quebec Nordiques. But he scored 420 of his 564 NHL goals during 13 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who acquired him from Quebec on June 28, 1994.

The trade sent forward Wendel Clark, Toronto's captain, to the Nordiques. Sundin knew he could never replace the crash-and-bang game that had made Clark a fan favorite, but his offensive skills soon silenced any potential detractors.

In his NHL100 profile of Sundin, author Dave Stubbs writes about how he became a fan favorite in his own right in Toronto:

"What Sundin brought was a terrific offensive game born of strong skating, a powerful shot from anywhere on the ice and a great consistency.

"For 12 of his 13 seasons with the Maple Leafs, Sundin led Toronto in scoring. He would establish still-standing franchise records for goals (420) and points (987). He was captain for 10 seasons, succeeding Doug Gilmour to become the first European in Toronto history to be so named, and he stoically faced plenty of sour music from the media and fans, aimed at his team and himself, when the Maple Leafs missed the playoffs five times on his watch.

"The eight-time NHL All-Star Game selection made history along the way.

"Sundin is one of three players to score at least 20 goals in his first 17 NHL seasons. He is the only Swede to score 500 goals and has the most points (1,349) and goals (564) by a Swedish player. And he was the first Swede to reach 1,000 points, finishing with 1,349."

Harris said it wasn't easy to capture what made Sundin special.

"One of the things that struck me watching Mats Sundin was his ability to make those around him better," he said. "That's hard to portray in a painting; however, it was on my mind while working on his portrait. My thinking is Mats has just made a pass and is breaking towards the net to complete a spectacular give and go."

 

Teemu Selanne

 

 

Mats Sundin

 

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