Selanne can pass Kurri

Anaheim Ducks star Teemu Selanne has 600 career goals. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

Anaheim Ducks star Teemu Selanne has 600 career goals. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

DEREK VAN DIEST, Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:39 PM ET

Teemu Selanne smiled at the prospect of scoring a pair of goals against the Edmonton Oilers Friday in the house Jari Kurri helped build.

Two goals would have given Selanne 602 in his career, one better than his former idol and now friend.

“Actually I hadn’t thought about that, but that would be pretty neat,” Selanne said prior to the game. “In reality, I never expected that I would be able to score more goals than him, and now I have that chance. But good things happen when you play a long time and you play with good players. That’s a result of what’s happening right now.”

Selanne registered his 600th career goal on Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche. He’s the 18th player in NHL history to reach the plateau, the third European to do so, and second only to Kurri when it comes to Finnish-born players.

“I watched Jari a lot over the years and tried to copy a lot of the things he does,” Selanne said. “He was a very smart player and I think, overall, he was probably better defensively than I was.

“I think we have a lot of similarities and I learned a lot from him. He and Wayne (Gretzky) were role models of mine. Later I was able to become friends with him.”

Kurri and Selanne played together for one season in Anaheim back in 1996-97.

A five-time Stanley Cup winner and hall-of-famer, Kurri played 17 years in the league finishing with the Colorado Avalanche.

“Right now getting 600 hasn’t really hasn’t hit me that hard,” Selanne said. “It might be one of those things when you’re done, one day you’ll look back at your career and see what you’ve done in the past, it’s going to be bigger. Right now it’s just a number, but it is special for me.”

Selanne has seven more games following Friday’s encounter to collect two more goals. Heading into the contest against the Oilers the 18-year veteran had 21 goals and 16 assists on the season.

Failing to reach the milestone would not effect Selanne’s decision whether or not to come back for a 19th season.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “I think getting to 600 is bigger for me than breaking Jari’s 601.

“I haven’t made a final decision. That’s something you have to do a couple of weeks after the season. The emotions are up and down during the season. One day you think it’s for sure your last year, but other days you think it’s awesome and there is no reason to retire. It’s hard to make the decision during the season.”

If it were to be over, then Friday’s game would mark the last time Selanne played in Edmonton. A future Hall-of-Famer, himself, it all started back in 1992 when he set a rookie standard with 76 goals with the Winnipeg Jets.

Selanne was the Jets first pick – 10th overall – in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft.

“I would have never imagine scoring 76 in my first year,” he said. “It was such a special year, everything went so smooth and came so easy. I was so hungry to score and got a chance to play with just great players. But it was a different time, I remember getting two or three breakaways in a game and a lot of chances.”

Fans will remember Selanne’s celebration after breaking Mike Bossy’s record for goals by a rookie. Selanne threw his glove in the air and pretended to shoot it down with his stick.

“I did that once before when we won the Finnish championship,” he said. “I wasn’t planning on doing it, I was just so pumped, it became just automatic. It was unbelievable, it was so much fun. I was so excited and I wouldn’t do that again.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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