TEEMU SELÄNNE RETIRES IN CALIFORNIA

Teemu and Sirpa Selänne at the screening of his biography, Sel8nne at USC. The movie is a part of the first  EUphoria Film Festival.

Teemu and Sirpa Selänne at the screening of his biography, Sel8nne at USC. The movie is a part of the first EUphoria Film Festival.

The all time greatest Finnish ice hockey player Teemu Selänne, 44, ended his illustrious career in August. “The Finnish Flash” began his career in Finland in 1989. He then played 21 seasons in the NHL for the Winnipeg Jest, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche. Selänne is the highest scoring Finn it the NHL history. Now he has come home to live at the Selänne family home in Coto de Caza, California.

Teemu Selänne in front of an audience. Programming Director Alex Ago moderated the Q & A after the screening of the documentary Sel8anne.

Teemu Selänne in front of an audience. Programming Director Alex Ago moderated the Q & A after the screening of the documentary Sel8anne.

Teemu Selänne and wife Sirpa Selänne are sitting in the Ray Stark Theater  of the University of Southern California, watching for the first time a full-length documentary “Sel8nne” , directed by JP Siili. The screening is part of the very first Euphoria Film Festival organized by the Finnish Consulate General headed by Consul General Juha Markkanen along with 12 other EU consulates. There are about a hundred people in the audience – most of them local Finns. After the screening there is a Q & A with Teemu Selänne and the audience. USC’s Programming Director Alex Ago served as a moderator.

Q: What made you decide to agree to this documentary?

TS: -At first I didn’t know how much I would want to open up my life. Then I thought it would be a nice memory when I’m old. I’m happy I did it. It’s a pretty honest story. I didn’t want the documentary crew to be around too much. I had a job to do too. the whole process took almost 2 years.

A bulk of Teemu’s interviews were done in the Summer at his house in Kirkkonummi, Finland.

TS: -Summer time was easier, I was able to be more flexible. We were landing in Helsinki (coming from California), and I told my family there was going to be a camera crew waiting. They are going to do the story of my life and you are going to be part of it. They looked at me like, seriously?

Q & A with Teemu Selänne

Q & A with Teemu Selänne

Selänne says the filming didn’t interrupt too much of the family’s life. The Selännes have four children – three teen-age boys Eemil, Eetu, Leevi and a six-year-old daughter Veera.

TS: -the cameras weren’t there all the time, just a couple of days here and there. Our life hasn’t been so private anyway, that’s why it was pretty easy to do.

The Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007. In one scene Teemu is seen pouring water from his Stanley Cup onto the rocks of a sauna stove.

TS: -There are some crazy stories about what people do with it. I heard some people let their dogs eat from it!

Q: How hands-on were you in the making of the movie?

TS: -I wanted to know what was going to be in the movie but did not want to involve myself too much. I didn’t want to open my garage door, but they wanted it. I’ve been very lucky to be able to collect those cars. Actually we drove my wife’s car here. (I only have one, Sirpa quips from the audience), It’s too fast for her anyway.

Teemu Selänne saw the Sel8nne documentary for the first time at the EUphoria Film Festival, USC.

Teemu Selänne saw the Sel8nne documentary for the first time at the EUphoria Film Festival, USC.

Selänne is said to have about 30 antique cars in his garage. In the 90’s Teemu also used to drive rally in Finland under a pseudonym because the team owners didn’t want him to jeopardize his life. He was involved in a serious accident in 1999 in which no one died but his friend Kalervo Kummola, the Vice President of the International Ice Hockey Federation, was seriously hurt.

TS:  – I haven’t driven after the 1999 incident. I don’t have time for it from playing golf.

Q: What are you going to do now?

TS: -I played such a long time and lived a disciplined life with a schedule. For a little while I’m not going to do much. I like it that when I wake up in the morning I really don’t have to go anywhere. I can travel and be more part of the kids’ lives. After a while I want to find something that is going to be more challenging. I have a restaurant in Laguna Beach which is going to keep me busy. For a little while I’m just going to enjoy life.

Teemu then jokes that his wife Sirpa better not boss him around too much.

TS: -If the to do list gets too long she knows I can always go back playing hockey!

Sirpa Selänne watched her husband's Q & A from the audience. She is happy to have her husbad at home after years of living on the terms and conditions of his hockey career.

Sirpa Selänne watched her husband’s Q & A from the audience. She is happy to have her husbad at home after years of living on the terms and conditions of his hockey career.

Q: How were you able to overcome a bad game?

TS: -Bouncing back from a bad night was the most difficult thing to do. It’s the same with golf. When you hit a bad shot, forget that, stay positive and focus on the next one. Hockey is all about confidence, staying positive and believing tomorrow is going to be another opportunity. That’s the only way to move forward.

Q: Would you have liked to have played in a town more into hockey?

TS: -I really enjoy the fact that people don’t recognize me all the time. I can live a normal life and enjoy privacy. Orange County and LA have been happy places for us. You can surf in the morning, play golf in the afternoon and go skiing at night if you want – it’s only a couple of hours away. That’s my kind of life!

Teemu says he would leave his work in the hockey rink.

TS: -My family couldn’t tell whether I played well or not. Some players don’t talk on game days. I can watch Baywatch before the game starts. That’s my approach.

Q: Would you like to do more charitable work?

TS: -I think so. It’s something I really enjoy doing. I am going to start a hockey academy in Finland and probably here too.

Q: There was some talk of you retiring after the Stanley Cup victory – was it the right choice to continue?

TS: -I am happy I didn’t retire in 2007. There were still many great years left. Obviously last year was pretty tough for the Ducks and Sochi Olympics were important to me. I am thankful the Finnish team gave me one more chance to play a big role. It was important to me.

Consul General of Finland, Juha Markkanen chats with Teemu Selänne after the screening. Markkanen was instrumental in bringing the Sel8nne movie to LA.

Consul General of Finland, Juha Markkanen chats with Teemu Selänne after the screening. Markkanen was instrumental in bringing the Sel8nne movie to LA.

Q: You were on a book tour in Finland, promoting your biography Teemu written by sports journalist Ari Mennander – are there plans to translate the book into English?

TS: -There are no plans right now to translate the book into English. Obviously I have to take some comments off (Ducks Coach), Bruce Boudreau – I’m just kidding. There are too many stories about Finnish games for American audience. It’s better I remain a mystery man here.

Q: There has been some talk about you going to Finland to play for the Jokerit – is there any truth to that?

TS: -Our oldest son is going to go to college next year. My middle one is going to play junior hockey in Wisconsin. So, going now to Finland knowing my family can’t come with me sounds selfish. Of course a part of me still wants to play but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Or something weird has to happen if I wake up one day and decide I’m going to play on that level again. I think it was the perfect time to go out. I’m ready for another chapter in my life.

From the left: Pascal Ladreyt, Juha Markkanen, Sirpa & Teemu Selänne, Heidi Luukkonen and Alex Ago at the EUphoria Film Festival screening of the documentary Sel8nne at USC.

From the left: Pascal Ladreyt, Juha Markkanen, Sirpa & Teemu Selänne, Heidi Luukkonen and Alex Ago at the EUphoria Film Festival screening of the documentary Sel8nne at USC.

A STAR-STUDDED FINNISH HUB

Reporter, pictures: Tomi Hinkkanen

Consul general Kirsti Westphalen hosting the Finnish Hub on the tennis court of the consul general's residence in Bel Air.

The newly created forum for the LA Finns, the Finnish Hub, was held Tuesday night at the Consul General Kirsti Westphalen’s residence in Bel Air. 130 guests gathered on the tennis court, where Westphalen outlined the future of the Consulate General of Finland in Los Angeles. The consulate has been under a threat of closing down due to financial reasons. Finntimes has been active in gathering signatures for the consulate to remain open right here in LA, where it rightfully belongs. We thank each and every person who kindly signed our petition. Westphalen revealed, that the decision about the consulate will be made within days in Helsinki. We will bring you the latest news as soon as they become available. Westphalen would like to create a Creative House of Finland, where artists, scientists, business people and everybody would be welcome under the same roof. It would also serve as an address for Finnish start-ups that require a local presence. Since in the current economic environment funds are scarce, the consulate puts its emphasis on green technologies and education.

Kirsti Westphalen said that the faith of the Finnish Consulate general in LA will be decided within days.

Among the audience, there were executives from Tekes – a Finnish Technology Agency, as well as Aalto University. Also the music world was well represented due to the Musexpo convention that is going on in Hollywood. Merja Laaksonen from Tekes told that they have a budget of 600 million euros that helps Finnish high tech businesses. There is also a 70 million euro creative fund for such endeavors. Laura Laaksonen from Aalto University was doing her dissertation on the internationalization of Finnish heavy metal bands. Local attorney and Finntimes blogger Ava Anttila spoke about the Finnish-American Chamber of Commerce, of which she is a member and invited new  businesses and individuals to join in. Sami Häikiö was here from Finland. He works for Music Export Finland, an organization dedicated to advancing Finnish music exports around the world. He told the organization has achieved great results, especially in Japan, where Finnish heavy metal is popular.

Cheers to Finland!

After the official speeches, there was an open mike for the audience members. Actress, singer and songwriter Irina Björklund wanted to see, if anything could be done to the facilitate Finnish and other international performers’ entry to the U.S. She said oftentimes performers have to wait for months to get a work visa to perform in the United States. A recent example comes from FinnFest, that was held last August in San Diego. The Finnish musicians had tough time in getting into the country and were questioned by the U.S.  immigration officials, who had asked,  couldn’t an American performer do the job instead. Westphalen replied that the Finnish government has tried to influence the powers to be. Of course it is up to the American officials to adjust their procedures and practices.

Irina Björklund with guitarist Steven McCormick and cameraman Janne Tamminen

There were also high flying ideas of creating an inn for Finns wanting to visit LA, complete with a restaurant and all. The reality of it is that if anything else, budgets are being tightened and as I mentioned before, the very existence of the consulate is in jeopardy. The government can’t do everything, Westphalen said with a smile . Maria Kizirian had a more realistic idea: Why not create an email list of volunteers, who would be willing to put up guests visiting from Finland in their own  homes. And she puts her money where her mouth is. Maria and her husband Paul Kizirian are currently hosting ex-Miss Finland, the lovely Pia Pakarinen in their home, as Pia is busily crafting a career for herself in modeling.

Maria Kizirian, in the middle, suggested an email list of volunteers who want to house Finns visiting Los Angeles.

The meeting lasted an hour and a half. It was truly the most comprehensive information package and a brainstorming session in recent memory held by the local Finns and their friends.

Fitness guru Pauliina Talus

After the meeting,  it was party time. There were many celebrities among the guests. Fitness guru Pauliina Talus had finished her Talus Integrated Training System – a workout program that fits the needs of any age or ability.  The new Lutheran pastor Jarmo Tarkki was there. He lives in Solvang, California and represents a large area encompassing Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and even Mexico City. The next LA area service will be held at St. Paul’s church in Santa Monica on May 20th. Pastor Tarkki was happy about the Easter service’s attendance – 85 people.

Finnish celebrity Sauli Koskinen, right, partied with his friends.

Finnish Big Brother winner from five years ago and singer Adam Lambert’s boyfriend Sauli Koskinen was partying with his friends. Sauli was in great spirits and tanned as ever. I asked him, if it was a real or spray tan. Sauli then took off one of his many rings, revealing a white spot on his skin underneath. Sauli said he takes every opportunity to tan on his rooftop in the couple’s home in Hollywood Hills.

sauli_koskinen_finntimes_com by Tomi Hinkkanen for Finntimes

Sauli Koskinen was tanned as ever and in great spirits.

Early on I spotted a familiar looking blond lady in the audience, then realizing it is Patrick Swayze’s widow Lisa Niemi. She came to the festivities with her mother-in-law Mary.

Patrick Swayze's widow, Lisa Niemi attended the Finnish Hub.

Lisa’s grandparents came to the U.S. from Finland. She said her father’s family was from northern Finland and mother’s family from Karelia. Lisa was in a good mood as well. Her husband Patrick died two and a half years ago of pancreatic cancer. Niemi wrote a book called “Worth Fighting For”, detailing her husband’s battle against cancer. It made it to the New York Times list of bestsellers. She is also a spokesperson for Pancreatic cancer Action Network and has her own website lisaniemiswayze.com

Lisa_Niemi_finntimes_com

Lisa Niemi wrote a book "Worth Fighting For" about her husband's struggle with cancer

“Patrick lost his battle, but the fight against pancreatic cancer goes on,” Lisa Niemi declared.