Today’s result in the WHC is a great disappointment. Canada lost and the young gun Oilers are on summer break. What’s an Oiler fan to do? Cheer for Finland of course!!

Edmonton’s love affair with Finland began with this man, Jari Kurri. His career was a groundbreaking item for Finnish players and the National Hockey League. Here’s a 1981 interview with Barry Fraser, Oilers head scout. He’s talking about Kurri and what he needs to do in order to "make it."

That’s a January 31, 1981 article by Terry Jones in the EJ btw, thanks to him for being there to chronicle. At that time, there were FIVE Finns in the NHL. This past season, there were 26 Finns in the NHL, with Teemu Selanne being the most famous and possibly Edmonton’s Teemu (Hartikainen) being the least famous. The Swedes still have way more (54 this past season) but at least the gap has closed and Finland has their own Salming’s and Hedberg’s in men like Jari Kurri and Teemu Selanne.

In the older times, before the Oilers owned the city the young soldiers were pretty much like everyone else. During the early 80s I was on the fringe of Edmonton sports media. Did an afternoon show just before John Short came on CFRN radio and of course the Oiler game would start at 7 or 7:30. I would meet a lot of the Oilers and Eskimos of the era as they came in to record or do live hits with John when the club was at home or in the summer.

I remember Jari Kurri very well. Extremely nice person, not at all a prima donna or arrogant. Spent about an hour with Mr. Kurri in a voice booth voicing a commercial and well remember him trying to read a script (this was early in his Edmonton career) and he worked very hard to get his lines down. My read was before and after his and the producer wanted to get it all in one take (the technology today allows terrific cuts to take out breathing and slurs but back in the day it was a razor and splicing tape) so poor Mr. Kurri had to stand there take after take.

I bet he read it 30 times, patiently. His read ended "tell them Jari sent you!" and during the final take as he nailed everything I cheered for him just as hard as I did when he was an Oiler. To this day I can’t imagine trying to read a script in foreign language.

Jari Kurri was a class act, left his footprint on this city and its people. It could have ended there, but the fact is that with each Finn arrival the bond grew stronger.


I can’t explain to you all the reasons why I’ll be cheering for Finland from here to the end of the WHC. All I can tell you is that it had a lot to do with Jari Kurri and his countrymen who have played in our beloved copper, orange and blue.

Go Finland! I know your party is already rocking. And if you’re lucky enough to be at the WJ and people notice you’re cheering for Finland, tell them Jari sent you.

  • Petr's Jofa

    Love the article. I just have to know if the add your talking about was the Kurri add for Shipley Photo? (sp?) That add, and the Mr Plywood add with Lee Fogolin, the Lydo’s 426-5050 comericals will forever be etched in my brain.

  • Lowetide

    The one I remember is Rod Phillips for Lloyd, Sadd and Anthony. Rod would come into the station, tell three of the funniest jokes you’ve ever heard in your life, walk into the booth, do a one take on their ad (it’s tough to say Lloyd Sadd and Anthony) and walk out again.

    The guy was gold.

  • D

    Eight to ten years after the dynasty ended, I ran into a Finnish hockey fan (can’t remember where). He told me that the Edmonton Oilers were Finland’s hockey team because of Jari Kurri (even years after Kurri left). I’m sure that sentiment has changed somewhat with Selanne, but man, that comment warmed my heart.


    I have to say, Lifetime Oiler Fan, lived in E-town until I was 24. Graduated from UofA took a job in Calgary for 10 years and am Back…. Sorry about the background but the title made me howl because of the annoying commercial that played in Cowtown on the radio “relentlessly” for years at some Car Dealership and the buzzline was… “TELL EM LANNY SENT YA!”

    Off Topic but had to share… half Drunk! LOL

  • Reg Dunlop

    The Finn who paved the way in oil land had to be Juha ‘Whitey’ Widing- 1977. The first truly impressive Finn was Risto Siltanen, my personal fave. A mini Paul Coffey.

  • Reg Dunlop


    I spent a couple of weeks learning to dive with a trio of Finnish scuba instructors in Thailand in 2004. I knew we were going to get along just fine when I showed up on day one in an Oilers t-shirt, and all three of them wanted to talk hockey.

    The Oilers were still their team, and even Finns living on a beach in southeast Asia were up to speed on Finnish Oiler prospects (Jani Rita et al in those days).

    Love the Finns.