Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Player -- Hannu Virta
Hannu Virta was a surprise pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the second round, 38th overall, of the 1981 Entry Draft. Sabres GM and coach Scotty Bowman had pulled off another coup.

Prior to the draft Bowman had taken a trip to Finland and happened to take in a game in Turku. Immediately, his attention was drawn to a young kid on the defense that controlled the puck like it was magnetically drawn to him. Bowman had to know who was this player. He was told the defenseman was Hannu Virta and that he had been given special permission to play that exhibition game. He was under suspension due to excessive violent play.

Bowman ran around the rink to see if there was any other scout present. Luckily, he couldn't find another scout in the rink. The cat almost got out of the bag in the unlikely town of Camrose, Alberta. Camrose hosts an annual tournament for the Viking Cup and they invited a Finnish team to participate. Bowman, who was the guest of honor, had a scare when Edmonton Oilers GM Glen Sather appeared to look at Virtu. Sather, while impressed, decided to save Virtu for his third or fourth round pick. Bowman acted quickly on draft day and snapped up the all-round defenseman earlier.

Virta played another season in Finland before joining the Sabres. For four full seasons he prowled the Sabres' blueline before getting his Finnish armed forces call up. By this time Virta had soured on Bowman's coaching style and insisted he would not return after his mandatory service unless there was a change behind the bench.

Hannu Virta stayed in Europe after his military service. He played mainly with TPS Turku and the Finish National team. The Finnish team captured gold in the 1987 European Hockey League, the 1993 European Cup and the World Championship in 1995. Until his retirement he was a five- time Finnish Hockey League All-Star


REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
Season Club League GP G A TP PIM +/- GP G A TP PIM
1978-79 TPS Turku U18 Fin-U18 22 1 9 10 6
1979-80 TPS Turku Jr. Fin-Jr. 26 13 8 21 6 5 2 3 5 0
1980-81 TPS Turku Jr. Fin-Jr. 29 22 22 44 55 5
1980-81 TPS Turku Finland 1 0 1 1 0 4 0 1 1 4
1980-81 Finland EJC-A 5 3 1 4 0
1981-82 TPS Turku Finland 36 5 12 17 6 7 1 1 2 2
1981-82 Buffalo Sabres NHL 3 0 1 1 4 -3 4 0 1 1 0
1981-82 Finland WJC-A 7 1 7 8 4
1982-83 Buffalo Sabres NHL 74 13 24 37 18 +7 10 1 2 3 4
1983-84 Buffalo Sabres NHL 70 6 30 36 12 +15 3 0 0 0 2
1984-85 Buffalo Sabres NHL 51 1 23 24 16 -2
1985-86 Buffalo Sabres NHL 47 5 23 28 16 +2
1986-87 TPS Turku Finland 41 13 30 43 20 5 0 3 3 2
1986-87 Finland WEC-A 8 0 4 4 4
1987-88 Finland Can-Cup 5 0 1 1 0
1987-88 TPS Turku Finland 44 10 28 38 20
1988-89 TPS Turku Finland 43 7 25 32 30 10 1 7 8 0
1988-89 Finland WEC-A 10 3 5 8 6
1989-90 TPS Turku Finland 41 7 19 26 14 9 0 6 6 10
1990-91 TPS Turku Finland 43 4 16 20 40 9 4 2 6 4
1990-91 Finland WEC-A 7 0 2 2 4
1991-92 TPS Turku Finland 43 6 22 28 32 3 1 4 5 0
1992-93 TPS Turku Finland 39 1 18 19 18 12 2 2 4 14
1993-94 TPS Turku Finland 47 3 17 20 18 10 0 3 3 6
1993-94 Finland Olympics 8 2 1 3 2
1993-94 Finland WC-A 8 1 4 5 6
1994-95 Grasshopper-Club Zurich Swiss-2 36 12 18 30 14 12 5 9 14 2
1994-95 Finland WC-A 7 1 1 2 8
1995-96 Grasshopper-Club Zurich Swiss-2 35 12 26 38 10 10 1 6 7 6
1995-96 Finland WC-A 6 0 6 6 4
1996-97 Finland W-Cup 4 1 0 1 6
1996-97 TPS Turku Finland 48 7 14 21 24 12 0 1 1 6
1996-97 Finland WC-A 8 0 3 3 4
1997-98 ZSC Lions Zurich Swiss 46 4 25 29 14
1998-2000 TPS Turku Finland
NHL Totals 245 25 101 126 66 17 1 3 4 6


EJC-A All-Star Team (1981)
Finnish Rookie of the Year (1982)
Finnish First All-Star Team (1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992)
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