With the Los Angeles Kings’ victory in Game Seven against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night, one of the greatest NHL careers of a generation came to a close.
Teemu Selanne stepped off the ice for the final time as a Duck, but memories of the mid-1990s are still fresh in the minds of Winnipeg Jets fans. Even though that franchise moved, became the Phoenix Coyotes, and the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to become the new Winnipeg Jets of today, Winnipeg is still a city much infatuated with the 22-year old boy Teemu once was.
Below, we have collected tributes from Jets fans, who shared their memories of Teemu, in honor of a legendary career.
Evan Matthews, Staff Writer –
“Teemu Selanne was one of the best goal scorers of his time. Proving that point, he was the inaugural winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy in 1997. From his 76 goals with the Jets in 92-93, to his Stanley Cup Championship in 2007 with Anaheim. Teemu has managed to stay relevant and play at a high level for his entire career, making stops in Winnipeg, San Jose, Colorado and Anaheim.
His 1457 points will not soon be forgotten and he leaves a legacy of skill, professionalism and class that will remain untouched. It’s been a pleasure watching him through the years with my favourite memory being watching Teemu hoist Lord Stanley’s mug high over his head. Solidifying his place in NHL History as one of the all-time greats. Cheers to having the privilege of watching one of the best ever, ride out into the sunset.”
Rob Carson, Staff Writer –
I remember when he came here for training camp at age 18 and Dale Hawerchuk was still here and Hawerchuk was impressed and hoped he could have stayed, I think Hawerchuk might have stayed in Winnipeg because he had always said it wouldn’t have taken much to keep him, but if you ever saw Gretzky and Kurri play together I would have loved to have seen Hawerchuk and Selanne although there was a 7 or 8 year age difference.Selanne had an extra gear to get around defenceman or when he had to pull away from defenceman when he had a break away, it was amazing, he would go to the blueline and stop and stand there and Housley would give him a pass with Selanne standing on the blueline and the defenceman would have the edge moving towards him and skating and from the blueline in he’d beat both defenceman to get a clear cut breakaway, I’ve never seen anything like that before or since.Selanne wasn’t even the fastest Jets player, in the skills competitions Tkachuk beat him going around the rink but for the first 10-15 feet of skating no one could get to top gear as fast as Selanne and I think his determination to beat guys made him faster, in a skills competition he probably didn’t go like he did in a game, he was like Seabiscuit, he had that gear no one else had.One game I remember in particular was a game against the Montreal Canadiens that I was at December 12/95 a few months before he was traded. Selanne ended up with 4 assists in the game and Montreal won 6-5 but he played unbelievable, flying around the ice he had the crowd on it’s feet for the entire game.The other incident I remember was the hit by Peca that knocked out Selanne on Feb.9 1995 (I looked up all these games I don’t remember the dates!), it was a late hit even by those standards back then and Peca only got 2 minutes for interference, but the fights that happened the rest of that game. Peca never played another shift in the game and Bure didn’t dress that game either and Domi lost his mind that night, at the end of the game he was yelling at the Vancouver bench, don’t dress Bure next game, don’t dress Bure. That’s one of the reasons us older fans couldn’t possibly cheer for the Canucks even after the Moose was their farm team!Selanne took a beating from defencemen when he started scoring like crazy his first year, and no one was happier than Selanne when the Jets traded for Tie Domi and Kris King, things were a little different after they got there. You went after Selanne you had to answer to Domi or King.I remember a game against Chicago when Chelios was playing for them and Chelios thought he could intimidate Selanne, well he got a rude awakening that night. Selanne although he doesn’t play like that now, was not easy to knock over and when he got mad or peeesed off like he said after that game he could hit. Chelios was on him all game yapping at him, sticking him hitting him when he could and then on one shift Chelios had him lined up and went to hit Selanne hard and Selanne saw him coming and stiffened up and put his shoulder into Chelios and Chelios went flying, the puck came around to another Hawks player and Selanne skated in and flattened him as he was passing over to Chelios and Selanne went back at Chelios and flattened him again it was amazing. Selanne said after the game sometimes you have to do that but I don’t like playing that way because it tires me out too much.And I had an old childhood friend that lived next door to Selanne on Campbell St. and he said Selanne would be out playing ball hockey with all the neighbourhood kids, a lot more than just once or twice, he said he was out there lots! He just loved the game and it shows as he’s still playing today!Of course the game he scored to break Mike Bossy’s record of most goals by a rookie is up there, but one of the few times Don Cherry was wrong was the competition between Eric Lindros and Selanne, they were both rookies the same year but Selanne was tearing up the league, and so was Lindros but it was a landslide for Selanne with the goals and the season he was having. Cherry said Selanne can score, he’s good but I’d still take Lindros over Selanne any day and we’ll see what happens in a few years because the type of player Lindros is ‘wins cups’. Well, Lindros didn’t win a cup and Selanne has won one with the team Anaheim has.
I have never seen a love affair like that of Teemu Selanne and the city of Winnipeg. From your rookie record to you hoisting the cup, myself and the city of Winnipeg will always love and remember you. Ps- amazing Olympic career as well *applauso*
This might sound crazy nowadays, with our 24/7 sports coverage delivered over perfect 1080i HD feeds. But, back in Selanne’s rookie year, it was a rare treat to watch a game on TV in Winnipeg. CBC only showed Leaf games. And my Dad wouldn’t spring for TSN, regardless of my constant begging. That’s why my most vivid memories of the Jets are of listening to Curt Keilback calling games on the radio. Listening to the last game of the year in my bedroom, the Jets players were taking turns trying to shoot the puck off Teemu, as he stood in front of the net to get him his 77th goal. I listened, desperately praying that Bill Ranford would let just one more go by, so Teemu could lead the league in goals. Could you imagine a Jet leading the league and a rookie no less? As the last seconds ticked away, I realized he was going to tie [Alex] Mogilny for the league lead, fate wouldn’t allow for just one more goal. But dammit, 76 goals for a rookie! 132 points. The future for the Jets had never shone brighter than at that moment. We had our own superstar in Winnipeg! We had ascended the mountain to become hockey royalty. This team, this player, our city had now forever become apart of hockey lore. We had become immortal.
Teemu Selanne brought great joy to Winnipeg hockey fans especially during his record setting rookie season. But, it’s the way he has talked about Winnipeg over the years and his time with the Jets that really hits home for me. He is so genuine and you can really feel the connection he had with the fans and city even though he hasn’t played here for almost two decades. The tribute he received on his first visit back to Winnipeg is something I’ll never forget and was well deserved. Teemu Selanne will forever have a spot in the hearts of all Winnipeg Jets hockey fans.