Jari Kurri

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Jari Kurri
Hockey Hall of Fame, 2001
Jari Kurri.jpg
Jari Kurri looks on as the Finnish national team plays at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Born (1960-05-18) May 18, 1960 (age 54)
Helsinki, Finland
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 198 lb (90 kg; 14 st 2 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shot Right
Played for Jokerit
Edmonton Oilers
HC Milano Devils
Los Angeles Kings
New York Rangers
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Colorado Avalanche
National team  Finland
NHL Draft 69th overall, 1980
Edmonton Oilers
Playing career 1977–1998

Jari Pekka Kurri (born May 18, 1960) is a retired Finnish professional ice hockey right winger and a five-time Stanley Cup champion. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001. He is currently the general manager of Jokerit.

Playing career[edit]

Jokerit (1977–1980)[edit]

He began his pro career with Jokerit in the Finnish SM-liiga. After an eleven-point rookie season for Jokerit in 1977–78, Kurri scored 30 and 39 points the next two years, playing all 33 games in each season. After his third season, Kurri was signed by the Edmonton Oilers, by then-general manager and head coach, Glen Sather.

Edmonton Oilers (1980–1990)[edit]

When Kurri arrived to the Oilers he was soon paired with Wayne Gretzky. The duo of Kurri and Gretzky became one of the most prolific scoring tandems ever to play in the NHL. Despite not always playing on the same team, Gretzky assisted on 364 of Kurri's 601 career goals, while Kurri had an assist on 196 Gretzky goals.[1]

During his tenure in Edmonton, he was nicknamed the "Finnish Flash" (a title since bestowed on Teemu Selänne). Kurri was "by far our most complete player," according to Oilers' director of personnel Barry Fraser. Although Kurri never won the Selke Trophy, he was regarded as one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL. Alongside Kurri, Esa Tikkanen and Gretzky, Edmonton had future hall-of-famers Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Glenn Anderson and Mark Messier. The team won four Stanley Cups during Gretzky's tenure. In 1988, however, the team would be dismantled when Gretzky was traded, along with team enforcer Marty McSorley, to the Los Angeles Kings. Following Gretzky's trade, Kurri recorded 195 points in 154 games, leading the Oilers to their fifth and, to date, final Stanley Cup in 1990.

Kurri won five Stanley Cups, all with Edmonton (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, and 1990). In 1984–85 he had 135 points and scored 50 goals in his first 50 games; however, his 50th game was the Oilers' 53rd game so it does not count as an official 50 goals in 50 games. A year later, he led the league in goals with 68. In 1984–85 Kurri set a record for goals by a right winger when he scored 71, which was broken by Brett Hull when he scored 72 goals in 1989–90 (Hull's 86 goals in 1990–91 is the current record). Kurri also scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in game seven against the Philadelphia Flyers in 1987.

Kurri's 19 goals in the 1985 post-season (18 games played) tied an NHL record set by the Flyers' Reggie Leach in the 1976 playoffs (16 games played). Those 19 goals included four hat tricks, a still-standing record in a playoff season. Kurri scored three of the hat tricks against the Blackhawks in the conference finals, also a feat that no player has ever equaled. He remains the only Finnish player to score five goals in a single game, on November 19, 1983. In perhaps Kurri`s finest performance, he registered three goals and two assists in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Boston, May 18, 1990, setting a record for scoring in a single Finals game in the modern era on his 30th birthday. Kurri had also set up Petr Klíma`s goal in triple overtime in Game 1.

HC Devils Milano (1990–1991)[edit]

Kurri's contract with the Oilers expired in 1990 but his NHL rights were still owned by Oilers. Instead of accepting a new contract from the Oilers, Jari Kurri opted for a season in Italy and played for HC Devils Milano of the Italian Serie A. Kurri had 27 goals and 48 assists in 30 games while he played in the Italian league.

Los Angeles Kings (1991–1994)[edit]

After a season in Italy, Kurri's rights were traded to the Philadelphia Flyers and then to the Los Angeles Kings on the same day. For the first time since the 1988 trade, Kurri was reunited with Wayne Gretzky. The pair had a fairly successful campaign in 1993 leading the Los Angeles Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals where they faced off against the Montreal Canadiens. Kurri managed to put together 17 points in 24 games during the run, in which the Kings ultimately fell short and lost the series in 5 games. Jari followed the run up with a few more solid seasons as a Los Angeles King, scoring 146 points in 176 games; his decline in scoring was primarily due to his transition into a more defensive minded forward in a somewhat reduced role. (Though they were back on the same team, by this time he and Gretzky were not usually playing on the same line.)

Kurri's best season for the Kings was during the successful 1992–93 NHL season when Kurri posted 27 goals and 60 assists in 82 games.

Jokerit (1994–1995)[edit]

During the 1994–95 NHL lockout Jari Kurri represented Jokerit, the team for which he played before his NHL career. Kurri played alongside with Teemu Selänne, the 1993 winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy who had established himself as one of the top stars in Finland during early success in the NHL. Kurri had one memorable moment during his visit to SM-liiga when Jokerit faced their local rivals HIFK. Kurri played against his former Oilers-linemate Esa Tikkanen and another Finnish NHL-player, Christian Ruuttu. Kurri, Selänne and Jokerit captain Waltteri Immonen led Jokerit to 4–2 victory over Russian HC Lada Togliatti in 1995 European Cup Finals.

Los Angeles Kings (1995–1996)[edit]

After the lockout Kurri returned to Los Angeles but was traded to New York Rangers in 1996 for their playoff run.

New York Rangers (1996)[edit]

Jari Kurri's visit to New York was a short one. Kurri played the remainder of the 1995–96 NHL season with the Rangers and posted one goal and four assists in 14 games. While he may not have put up the points the Rangers expected him to at the end of the regular season, Kurri proved some of his value by notching 8 points in 11 playoff games with the Rangers.

Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (1996–1997)[edit]

After his short period in NY Rangers, Kurri signed with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Kurri intended to play alongside Teemu Selänne and Paul Kariya, but was ultimately reduced to a smaller role on the second and third lines, despite a newfound confidence from rigorous summer training. The Mighty Ducks made it to the playoffs and defeated the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round but were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round.

Colorado Avalanche (1997–1998)[edit]

Kurri with the Avalanche in 1997

After his single season with the Mighty Ducks, Kurri was signed by the Colorado Avalanche, the 1996 Stanley Cup Champions. Kurri had a more defensive role with the Avalanche. Kurri's highlight of the season was his 600th NHL career goal, which he scored during a regular season game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings. Despite having a strong team with players like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy, the Avalanche were eliminated quickly in the playoffs by the Edmonton Oilers. Kurri played his final NHL game (Game 6) in Edmonton, before the Avalanche were defeated in the 7th game.

Legacy as a player[edit]

Jari Kurri finished his career as the highest scoring European-born-and-trained player in NHL history, with 601 goals, 797 assists, and 1,398 points. (Stan Mikita, who was born in Europe but raised in Canada, retired 18 seasons before Kurri with 926 assists and 1,467 points.) Kurri has since been passed in all three categories by Jaromír Jágr, who also passed all of Mikita's marks. Kurri has since also been bested in goals by Teemu Selänne (the current record-holder for NHL goals scored by a Finn), and in assists by Nicklas Lidström. He was also the highest ranked non-Canadian in NHL points and goals; the only non-Canadian with more assists at Kurri's retirement was American Phil Housley, since passed by Mike Modano. Kurri finished with 106 career playoff goals and 233 playoff points, third all-time behind Gretzky and Messier. He is the first Finn to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. His 1,398 points are 19th all-time, and the second highest among players trained in Europe behind Jágr. He is 18th in all-time goals with 601, and was the leading Finn in that department until Selänne passed him in 2010. He is the second leading point-scorer in Oilers history, with 1,043 points in 754 games, behind Gretzky. His No. 17 has been retired by the Edmonton Oilers, the Finnish national team, and Jokerit. In addition, the Jari Kurri trophy is given to the most valuable player in the SM-liiga playoffs. In 2000, he was named along with longtime linemate Gretzky to the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame. In 1998, he was ranked number 50 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players, the highest-ranking Northern European player (1998). In addition, he was the first Finn to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, doing so in (2001).

International play[edit]

Medal record
Competitor for  Finland
Ice hockey
Winter Olympics
Bronze 1998 Nagano Finland
World Championships
Silver 1994 Italy Finland

Jari Kurri also had a lengthy international career for the Finnish national team. Kurri debuted during 1980 Winter Olympics when Finland played in the Olympic ice hockey tournament. Kurri scored two goals and an assist in his international debut.

Since NHL players were unable to participate in the Winter Olympics and World Championships, Kurri's national team appearances were limited after he started his NHL career. Kurri was part of Finnish national team during 1981 Canada Cup. Finland lost four games and had a 4–4 tie with the United States. Kurri had a disappointing performance, with only one assist in five games.

After the Oilers were eliminated in the 1982 NHL playoffs, Kurri was able to join the Finnish national team in 1982 World Championships. The tournament was held in Finland. Kurri formed Finland's top line along with SM-liiga players Reijo Leppänen of TPS and Kari Jalonen of Kärpät. The lineup led the Finnish team in points and played well during the tournament but Finland was not able to advance to the medal round.

Kurri was part of the Finnish team at the 1987 Canada Cup and the 1989 World Championships, but Finland was unable to gain success on those tournaments, ranking 6th of 6 and 5th of 8, in those respective tournaments.

In 1991, Kurri represented Finland at the 1991 World Championships held again in Finland. Finland ranked 5th of 8 teams. Later that year, at the 1991 Canada Cup, Finland lost 3–7 to the United States in the semi-finals.

At the 1994 World Championships, Kurri managed to get his first international medal when Finland earned silver after losing 1–2 in a shootout against Canada.

At the 1998 Winter Olympics, Jari Kurri faced Gretzky on ice for the last time, when Finland and Canada played for the Olympic bronze medal in Nagano. Finland was the underdog against Canada, but Finland won the game 3–2. Kurri scored the first goal of the game, which turned out to be his last goal for the Finnish national team.[2]

After retirement[edit]

After being long time general manager of the Finnish national men's ice hockey team, scouting players and assisting the head coach. He is now GM of the first finnish KHL league team Jokerit.

Personal life[edit]

Kurri is married to former Miss Finland, Vanessa Kurri, nee Forsman; they wed in 2004 and have three daughters: Odessa (born 2002), Alissa (born 2005) and Isla (2012), and one son, Paulus (born 2007). Kurri also has twin boys (Joonas and Ville) from his first marriage, to Tiina Kurri. Former linemate Wayne Gretzky is the godfather of Kurri's children from his first marriage.

Kurri is the godfather of Sami Lepistö.

Transactions[edit]

Career statistics[edit]

In bold are NHL record(s) (tied with Reggie Leach)

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1977–78 Jokerit SM-liiga 29 2 9 11 12
1978–79 Jokerit SM-liiga 33 16 14 30 12
1979–80 Jokerit SM-liiga 33 23 16 39 22
1980–81 Edmonton Oilers NHL 75 32 43 75 40 9 5 7 12 4
1981–82 Edmonton Oilers NHL 71 32 54 86 32 5 2 5 7 10
1982–83 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 45 59 104 22 16 8 15 23 8
1983–84 Edmonton Oilers NHL 64 52 61 113 14 19 *14 14 28 13
1984–85 Edmonton Oilers NHL 73 71 64 135 30 18 *19 12 31 6
1985–86 Edmonton Oilers NHL 78 *68 63 131 22 10 2 10 12 4
1986–87 Edmonton Oilers NHL 79 54 54 108 41 21 *15 10 25 20
1987–88 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 43 53 96 30 19 *14 17 31 12
1988–89 Edmonton Oilers NHL 76 44 58 102 69 7 3 5 8 6
1989–90 Edmonton Oilers NHL 78 33 60 93 48 22 10 15 25 18
1990–91 HC Devils Milano ITA 30 27 48 75 6 10 10 12 22 2
1991–92 Los Angeles Kings NHL 73 23 37 60 24 4 1 2 3 4
1992–93 Los Angeles Kings NHL 82 27 60 87 38 24 9 8 17 12
1993–94 Los Angeles Kings NHL 81 31 46 77 48
1994–95 Jokerit SM-liiga 20 10 9 19 10
1994–95 Los Angeles Kings NHL 38 10 19 29 24
1995–96 Los Angeles Kings NHL 57 17 23 40 37
1995–96 New York Rangers NHL 14 1 4 5 2 11 3 5 8 2
1996–97 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim NHL 82 13 22 35 12 11 1 2 3 4
1997–98 Colorado Avalanche NHL 70 5 17 22 12 4 0 0 0 0
NHL totals 1251 601 797 1398 545 200 106 127 233 123
  • * Led League

International[edit]

Year Team Event GP G A P PIM
1978 Finland EJC 4 6 2 8 4
1979 Finland WJC 6 2 3 5 2
1980 Finland WJC 5 4 7 11 0
1980 Finland Oly 7 2 1 3 6
1981 Finland CC 5 0 1 1 0
1982 Finland WC 7 4 3 7 2
1987 Finland CC 5 1 1 2 4
1989 Finland WC 7 5 4 9 4
1991 Finland WC 10 6 6 12 2
1991 Finland CC 6 2 0 2 7
1994 Finland WC 8 4 6 10 2
1996 Finland WCH 4 1 0 1 0
1998 Finland Oly 6 1 4 5 2
Junior totals 15 12 12 24 6
Senior totals 65 26 26 52 29

Achievements[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ NHL.com Summing up 'The Great One'
  2. ^ CNN/SI – Nagano Olympics – Olympic Men's Hockey Recap (Canada-Finland) – February 21, 1998

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Wayne Gretzky
NHL Goal Leader
1986
Succeeded by
Wayne Gretzky
Preceded by
Mike Bossy
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
1985
Succeeded by
Mike Bossy