The book “Teemu” by journalist Ari Mennander is impressive. Not only by its size but also with the way it has been written. But how else could you write a biography on Teemu Selänne, who is one of the best ice hockey players in the world?
It becomes clear since the beginning of the book that Teemu Selänne hasn’t been born into fame and fortune. He was born into a family that saw his talent and passion for hockey, and gave their full support. As a kid he didn’t got the brand new gear to play ice hockey, but he was given unconditional support.
I found it really admirable how Selänne took this support and was working for it. By showing up to practice no matter if he was tired from yesterday’s work, or if it was raining or shining. By not forgetting to take care of the stretching, no matter how much others would laugh at him. And by playing with the team and being able to take feedback and advice that made him develop as a ice hockey player.
This all said, since his very young age Teemu Selänne is portrayed as a person who has an attitude where you seize the opportunity, but you also give back.
In this book the story of Teemu Selänne begins in very movie-like way. The reader’s journey into the life of this big ice hockey star gets launched from a summer of 2007 atmosphere as it was in the Selänne household in Coto de Caza. Teemu’s wife Sirpa was pregnant and against all odds, Teemu was playing in the playoffs with the Anaheim Ducks.
The playoffs end with Teemu finally getting his biggest dream come true: winning the Stanley Cup. Now, the reader was given a glimpse of Teemu Selänne’s talent. And now the reader will want to know how did Teemu got to this moment, where the sun is rising above his lovely Californian home.
The author Mennander brings up Selänne’s down to earth and resilient personality. This is shown even in his young age as a boy who suffered from Osgood-Schlatter’s disease which causes severe pain in the legs. This issue made Teemu end his successful hobby with soccer.
Afterwards Teemu’s issues with OSD have been seen as blessing in its own wicked way. Because of the pain he had to focus more on his skills with passing the puck instead of flashing around the ring. This change was developing his ability to read the game. OSD ended up making Teemu’s charisma only stronger.
Besides Teemu’s determination and his parents’ dedication to help and guide him with ice hockey, it becomes visible how much Teemu appreciates his friends. The way Mennander describes him shows that he has not forgotten where he comes from.
When reading this book it is not anymore any big surprise to me why Selänne has become such a big star, and the face for the Anaheim Ducks. He is described as a sociable man, who knows that even though you don’t need to be best friends with all, it is still a virtue to remain polite and not to think “what if’s.”
The book is also opening a bit the volt to the Teemu’s heart by talking about his love life. How he was engaged to Anu, traveled after her to the USA (even-thought Anu was not allowed to receive guests in her student exchange year), and how the relationship ended when Teemu’s limelight in hockey started to grow bigger, but still remaining in good terms.
I liked the way Mennander was showing Teemu’s wife Sirpa’s role in his success. Sirpa is portrayed as a woman who is a center piece of the strong foundation that holds up the so-called Teemu Selänne Inc. She is a caring mother, loving wife and a smart person who shares Teemu’s passion for ice hockey.
One thing that really got pointed out was how Teemu Selänne is an appealing athlete not only because of his talent with sports, but also with public relations. It seems that he has not had any issues with handling his fame. Also, his way of rhetoric has been making him stand out from the crowd as a sincere person.
The book has a positive tone that mostly is a result of its subject: a man with a positive attitude towards life. But it also discusses about Teemu and his life in a context that reflect uphills, fights and disagreements: how he is not always answering his phone and he might take his closest people for granted. But this made me think: would it just show his dedication to ice hockey and trust on others?
The book is also splendid source for those who seek to see inside the business of ice hockey: The life of a professional athlete with pain, tears, adrenaline and glory. This book has only one major flaw: it has not been translated in any other languages. What I do know is that the whole book is available only in Finnish. But please, let me know if it can be found one day in English too. I am sure that my Canadian friends and family would benefit from reading about Teemu’s path as a persistent Finn and a living legend.
The book is one of the best biography’s I’ve read. I like that it is has been ditching the bullet of boredom. It is sporty, vibrant and dynamic. It has a lot of interesting pictures from the achievements of Teemu’s life.
Author: Ari Mennander
Publisher: Otava, 2014
Text in the back of the book:
“I’ve been born into a family which
believed in dreams and hard work. In life one must
do things that one loves. I’ve been
happy to wake up every morning and I’ve been
working for my dreams.”
Pictures: Photos in the book and on its cover.