Friends, foes and fans should salute Teemu Selanne

A long, storied NHL career came to an end when the Anaheim Ducks were eliminated from the play-offs on Friday, but Rob McKenzie remembers a special player who first starred for the Winnepeg Jets.
Teemu Selanne, centre, of the Anaheim Ducks skates away from Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings in the first period of Game 7 of their NHL play-off series on May 16, 2014 in Anaheim, California. The Kings defeated the Ducks 6-2. Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Teemu Selanne, centre, of the Anaheim Ducks skates away from Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings in the first period of Game 7 of their NHL play-off series on May 16, 2014 in Anaheim, California. The Kings defeated the Ducks 6-2. Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Teemu Selanne has been in the NHL so long that in his rookie year, a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup. That was 1992/93, when Montreal won it all and Selanne scored an astounding 76 goals for the Winnipeg Jets.

Usually, being a Jets fan was just plain punishment. Yet now, somehow, we had a star. And he seemed to like being in Winnipeg, a city that is not conducive to all tastes (meaning: cold). So of course, the Jets traded him. It happened on February 7, 1996, and Selanne was as livid as Winnipeg’s fans.

From an Associated Press report at the time: “After hearing of the deal, which also included an exchange of draft choices and signing rights, Selanne stormed out of practice and ripped off the nameplate from above his locker. He left Winnipeg Arena without talking to reporters.”

The Jets acquired mere bit players from Anaheim in the trade. Although, oddly, the Montreal Gazette reported: “Talk to the players, however, and they’ll insist Winnipeg was the big winner ... Selanne is regarded as a selfish player.”

That is the only bad thing anybody ever said about Selanne, who has scored 728 goals and won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim.

When his long NHL career ended on Friday with Anaheim’s elimination from the play-offs, he stood in line with his teammates to shake hands with the victorious Los Angeles Kings. “I’m gonna miss watching you play, I really am,” the Kings’ Drew Doughty told him. “Thank you.”

rmckenzie@thenational.ae

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Published: May 18, 2014 04:00 AM

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