Teemu Selanne and Jari Kurri: arguably the two greatest Finnish-born hockey players ever to play in the National Hockey League. Kurri, a mainstay on the Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup dynasty of the 1980’s; Selanne, the ageless wonder who’s still a productive scorer in his 40’s, and is one of the top-20 scorers of NHL history. So which of these two great Finns is the greatest Finn of all-time? Selanne? Or Kurri?
[*Note: All statistics current as of March 7th, 2012]
Teemu Selanne: 1,326 games played, 658 goals, 740 assists, 1,398 points, +107 career +/- rating
Jari Kurri: 1,251 games played, 601 goals, 797 assists, 1,398 points, +282 career +/- rating
The Case for Jari Kurri
He and Selanne have the same number of points in their careers (as of now, Selanne’s not done yet), but Kurri racked up his 1,398 points in 75 fewer games than it took Selanne. Kurri also has five Stanley Cup championships (all with the Edmonton Oilers), while Selanne has only one. Kurri’s best season (71 goals, 64 assists, 135 points) is also better than Selanne’s best (76 goals, 56 assists, 132 points).
The Case for Teemu Selanne
Selanne beat Kurri in terms of longevity and goal-scoring ability. Selanne’s career has lasted three more years than Kurri’s did. Selanne is the all-time leading Finnish goal-scorer in NHL history, as his total (658) far outstrips Kurris 601. Selanne is also more accomplished on the international level, as he was part of a 2006 Finnish Olympic hockey team that won the silver medal, and he’s the all-time points leader in Olympic ice hockey history. Selanne has also won two awards than Kurri never has: the Rocket Richard Trophy and the Calder Trophy. Selanne won the Richard in 1999 for scoring a league-high 47 goals, and the Calder in 1993 for his incredible rookie season (the aforementioned 76 goal, 56 assist, 135 campaign).
The Case Against Jari Kurri
The single biggest argument against Kurri is that he got to play alongside Wayne Gretzky, the consensus greatest NHL player of all time. Selanne never played alongside anyone of that caliber, so it could be said that his accomplishments are more his own than Kurri’s are.
The Case Against Teemu Selanne
Simply, his overall resume isn’t quite as impressive as Kurri’s. Selanne doesn’t have as many Stanley Cup Championships as Kurri, and it took him three extra years to reach Kurri’s statistical totals.
As usual, this is a very close final decision. The numbers are practically identical. Kurri has had more NHL success (five Stanley Cups), but Selanne has several individual accolades (Calder Trophy, Rocket Richard Trophy, all-time leading Olympic scorer) that Kurri doesn’t have. Since this is an examination of individual players against one another, the fact that Selanne has more individual success (remember, he did what he did without playing alongside Wayne Gretzky), gives him a slight edge in this matchup.
Winner: Teemu Selanne.
By lead columnist Arun Morace