Finland is one of the best hockey nations in the world and the country has produced some truly outstanding hockey players. However, when most people are told to think of a Finnish player on the spot, their minds likely migrate to one person. That man is none other than the Finnish Flash, Teemu Selanne.
Teemu Selanne was born in 1970 and actually has a twin brother, named Paavo. As a youth, Selanne played a number of recreational sports such as soccer, bandy and (of course) hockey. While growing up, Selanne was fairly small and that instilled a competitive drive inside of him to get better and improve as an athlete.
After a while, he soon began to solely focus on hockey and joined a local junior team in Finland. As a teen, in addition to playing hockey, he attended business school and served a mandatory one year stint with the Finnish Defense Forces. HE had an extremely successful (both individual and team-wise) junior career in Finland, which enticed the Winnipeg Jets to select him with the 10th overall pick in the 1988 NHL Draft.
However, instead of electing to make the jump right from Finnish junior hockey to the NHL, Selanne elected to return home to Finland. When back, he moved on to play senior hockey where he continued him dominance of the league, scoring nearly 2 points a game throughout the few years he played there. Finally, ahead of the 1992-93 season, Selanne signed a contract to come play in the NHL.
Right from the get go, people knew he was something special. Selanne used his blistering speed, scoring ability and competitive spirit to wow crowds throughout the league during his rookie year. And by the end of his first NHL campaign, Teemu Selanne had broken the record for the most goals by an NHL rookie with an unbelievable 76. Not only did this break the old record of 53 (set by Mike Bossy), he demolished it. This type of season was one of the best ever debuts in history and had people extremely excited for the rest of his career.
Unfortunately for them and him, his rookie campaign was the best in terms of goals and point scoring by a fairly wide margin. And while this was the case, Selanne still had one hell of a career and put up some amazing numbers. Throughout his 21 year career, Selanne scored 684 goals and 1,457 points, both good for 11th and 15th in league history, respectively. This makes him the highest scoring Finnish player in the history of the league. He also added three 50 goal seasons and ten all star games to his resume, as well as being a member of the 2007 Stanley Cup winning Anaheim Ducks team.
While his impact on the NHL has been huge, it is almost hard to measure just how popular and influential he is in Finland. He has appeared as an Olympian for Finland six times, winning four medals. He is also one of the biggest influential factors for hockey growth in Finland in the 1990s and 2000s.