The article was originally published in IS's Selänne specialty magazine, which was published on 23 May 2014.
December 1982. The lively Teemu Selänne once again manages to sit without moving his fin. Only the eyes of a 12-year-old boy, ecstatic, tap the NHL players of the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyes on the ice. The experience is so captivating to him that not even a jar wants to stay in his mouth.
The Espoo Ice Club's Juniors' tournament trip to North America has begun in the best possible way - the boys of the NHL, whom they have found fabulous, have wanted to see.
Antti Törmänen (left) and Teemu Selänne pose with the father of a Toronto host family in Toronto in the winter of 1982.
The young people of EJK have heard great stories about the magic of NHL players in Finland. The narratives have only magnified the aura of myth. In general, the NHL has felt distant in Finland, because the media has followed the league very occasionally and no one has heard of it on the internet yet. That’s why puck juniors across the country have seen the NHL as a distant, unreachable paradise.
Next to his back sits his good friend and teammate Antti Törmänen, the striker he too. As the match progresses and Selelne follows, Törmänen experiences avalanches, which he vividly remembers more than 30 years later.
- Teemu stared at every move in the NHL game with such devotion that it was going. I remember thinking that at that point, Teemu himself decided to play in the NHL sometime. We were all happy with our experience, but somehow Teemu even more, Törmänen says.
- I think that seeing one NHL match had a big spiritual significance on Teemu's later career.
From there, the journey to Selänte began as one of the best hockey players of all time, even though at that time no one even thought about what was to come.
- Teemu was already a good player in the juniors, but not a good goal scorer, emphasizes Juha Ikonen, who played in the same team as Selänte and later had a long career in the Finnish Championships.
- Many people certainly don't believe it, but in fact Teemu lost a lot of places during his junior days, Ikonen remembers.
Selänne, from Souka, Espoo, became interested in sports early on.
Under Ilmari's father's guidance, Teemu's range of sports developed to be comprehensive, but hockey quickly rose above the others. It became his greatest passion.
Teemu joined the juniors of EJK at the age of ten, as did many other young people of the same age, athletically talented.
- Our team trainings were always in Matinkylä, but the Kivenlahti field was where Teemu learned his puck skills. I lived near Teemu, and we always spent days there on the ground, Törmänen says.
- Teemu just fired and fired. Even after training, he was almost always left to shoot discs alone.
Hockey dominated the leisure time of the young people of Espoo, but there was more to their lives.
- Teemu was such a fast and energetic person that he couldn't stand still. Something always had to happen, Törmänen from Nöykkien in Espoo smiles.
Sons of the Espoo Ice Club in about 1980: From top left Jukka Nieminen (former custodian of Phoenix Coyotes, died in summer 2010), Juha Ikonen (whose father Jorma worked as a coach), Juha Savolainen, Rami Lehtinen (Jere Lehtinen's big brother), Reino Hyvärinen, Pasio Vaarmaala Heinikari, Visa-Pekka Hakkarainen and Teemu Selänne. In the bottom row, from left, Jarkko Lahtinen, Pasi Mustonen, Marko Tiittanen, Ilkka Helin, Henrik Svedstedt, Kim Dannholm, Jouni Nupponen and Petri Manninen.
Photo: Juha Ikonen's home album
It was fun, because Teemu already had a constant twinkle in the corner of his eye.
- Together we did everything possible that young people now only know. When we went for apple thieves, when we climbed trees, when we competed in different sports.
The buddies had a hard urge to raise money by any means - and not just by breaking piggy banks.
- We often collected bottles and took them to the store. In our home regions, there were enough large consumers of alcohol who left bottles along the yards to collect for us. May Day had to be awake, because then it was easy to make 20 marks, says Törmänen, who played with Selänte on the same junior team when he was 14 years old.
- As we approached adolescence, distributing magazines was another way to get money, and Teemuk was also an avid distributor. When the money was in a handful, then suddenly to the kiosk. We wasted all the money on candy.
At the beginning of the barracks decade, the videos running VHS tapes went crazy for Finns, including Selänne and Törmänen.
- It was somehow heavenly to watch a Bond movie at home, for example. And Rambo, if anything, was a tough thing for Teemu. Of the actors, his favorites were definitely action heroes Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee, Törmänen explains.
- Teemu often played ninja, and made karate kicks alone in the spirit of Bruce Lee. This also had a driving force for his sports career, from the point of view of flexibility. At that time, Teemu began to stretch his legs regularly, especially his legs. He soon got into spaghetti and was damn proud of it.
Second left of EJK born in 1970 from left to right: Janne Paananen, Teemu Selänne, Jussi Savolainen, Antti Törmänen and Jukka Nieminen.
Photo: Antti Törmänen's home album
Described as a living mouse, Selänne did not acquire goal-scoring skills in his breast milk, but his genetic ability did rise to become a top athlete. Your back was both durable and fast at the same time, which is exceptional.
- In athletics, Teemu didn't care if the distance was 60 or 1,000 meters. In both, he was the top of his age group, Törmänen remembers.
- Teemu also benefited from this talent in the football we played together in Honka. Teemu continued to run through the game and often escaped from opponents due to his speed. He would have risen to the top in that sport as well.
In hockey, Selänne's luck was high-quality coaching. Juha Ikonen's Jorma's father knew how to develop talented young people.
- The importance of skating skills was emphasized in Jorma's coaching. We were clearly ahead of most other junior gangs of the same age, Törmänen underlines.
Juha Ikonen was the number one star in EJK's strong group chain.
- Juha was superior in the juniors. He could fetch the puck from behind his own goal, deceive everyone on his way to his opponent's goal, and then hit the puck in the backpack. Teemu and I played in second place.
Törmänen emphasizes that the fierce internal competition of EJK's players spurred forward.
- Of course, Teemu wanted to be number one and he worked hard for it all the time. It was also important that we learn to win as a team, he lines.
- Teemu's attitude was strong, and I think it was refined with our 1982 trip to North America.
Back’s competitive edge grew, and it didn’t go unnoticed by his friends.
- Teemu was no good loser. For example, if we played tennis and obviously hit the ball inside the boundaries, Teemu could still argue against and say the ball was out. At least he wanted a repeat ball, Törmänen laughs.
The fierce will to win learned at EJK helped Selänne develop. As the years progressed, the hardness of the gambler's character also increased.
- Teemu was an athlete at a young age who never gave up. Not at all, Juha Ikonen says.
Constant yard practice and hard will slowly began to show. However, not yet at the EJK. Your back was a bit slower growing than the others and didn't get as much playing time as his Ilmari father would have liked, so Ilmari moved Teemu to the Jokers at the C-junior age. The transfer inflamed Ilmar and Jorma Ikonen so badly that Jorma didn't want to say anything about Selänte in this article either.
In the Jokers, your back almost blossomed.
- Teemu had acquired good skills in Espoo, and when he then grew up as a man before the B-guys and got more testosterone in his body, the talent started to show results in the trough, Ikonen recalls.
Teemu was already a very good scorer in the Jokers' B-juniors. That’s when he knew he was going a long way in his career.
Since then, Selänne has firmly adhered to his position as Finland's number one goal scorer, until now.
- When the Finnish A-national team's rehearsals at the Sochi Olympics (February 2014) ended, Teemu was still there to shoot the puck to the finish line. His dedication to dedication has been very far, Törmänen, who acted as Yle's expert commentator at the Olympics, sums up.