With Helsinki hosting the 2016 World Junior Championships this winter, the Finnish Ice Hockey Association will retire the numbers of four national team legends during the tournament, with the numbers of Teemu Selänne, Saku Koivu, Jere Lehtinen and Ville Peltonen to be forever enshrined in the rafters of Hartwall Arena.
The numbers for Koivu, Lehtinen and Peltonen, who made up the famous “Hupu, Tupu and Lupu” line for Finland’s first-ever World Championship in 1995, will have their numbers honoured on December 26, while Selänne, arguably the greatest player ever to suit up for the Leijonat, will have his #8 retired on 30 December. They join Jarri Kurri (#17) and Raimo Helminen (#41) as the only others to have their number retired by the national team.
Koivu (#11), in addition to his 1995 Gold, also won two World Chmapionship silvers in 1994 and 1999, a silver and three bronze Olympic medals, and a silver at the 2004 World Cup Of Hockey. Koivu led the 1998 and 2006 Olympics in scoring, and was a three-time World Championships All Star.
Lehtinen (#26) suited up for Finland at four World Championships, five Olympics and both the 1996 and 2004 World Cup of Hockey, remarkably medaling at all except two tournaments. Besides the 1995 Gold, Lehtinen won silver at the Worlds in 1992, 1994 and 2007, as well as at the 2004 World Cup and 2006 Olympics.
Peltonen (#16) captained a number of Leijonat squads while suiting up for eight World Championships, four Olympics and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, winning Gold at the historic 1995 World Championship victory. Peltonen also brought home silver from the Worlds in 1994, 1998, 1999 and 2007, as well as the 2006 Turin Olympics.
And finally, Selänne (#8), who was also named Finnish player of the year eight times, retires having suited up for the Leijonat at a record six Olympics, becoming the all-time points leader in Olympic hockey, and being the oldest hockey player to medal, adding a bronze in 2014 to his 2006 silver and 1998 and 2010 bronzes. “The Finnish Flash” also played in five World Championships, the 1991 Canada Cup, and both the 1996 and 2004 World Cup of Hockey, winning silver in the latter.
Our congratulations to all of the honourees, their families, and the current players and fans of Finnish hockey, on this great accomplishment for these legends of the Leijonat!