Sunday, October 25, 2009

Former Oiler Star Visits St. Paul

I had the distinct pleasure of sitting adjacent to former Finland and NHL star Jari Kurri--the first Finn to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame--in the Al Shaver press box at the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night.

Kurri who, while with the Edmonton Oilers, formed half of one of the most prolific scoring duos in NHL history along with some guy named Gretzky, is the General Manager of the Finnish national team. He was joined by Finland Head Coach Juka Jalonen and the pair was presumably in attendance to scout players in advance of making their selections for the team which will represent Finland in Vancouver at the 2010 Olympic Games in February.

Among those getting a look last night were Minnesota's Mikko Koivu, Antti Miettinen, and Niklas Backstrom as well as Carolina's Joni Pitkanen and Jussi Jokinen. Tuomo Ruutu of the Hurricanes would have been given a look if not for the three-game suspension handed down by the NHL for his destruction of Colorado Avalanche agitator Darcy Tucker the night before in Denver.

While I won't outright condone Ruutu's hit, I'm not going to loose much sleep over Tucker getting carted off on a stretcher when the guy has made a career out of attempting to shorten the careers of others.

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