The game of hockey will never be the same, as a living legend played his last game in the NHL last Saturday. This legend and future Hall of Famer is Teemu Selanne.
Although Selanne did not start with the Anaheim Ducks, he will always be loved here as his family now lives in Orange County permanently.
Wherever he has played he has left a trail of loving and adoring fans as he is the epitome of class, dignity and talent. One struggles to find anyone on any team, friendly or foe, that doesn’t respect Selanne.
Since his start, Selanne has always been a bit different. He doesn’t like to fight, he uses an older style helmet referred to as the bucket and he’s played in more Olympic games than any other modern player.
Now, what do all these facts about Teemu mean? To answer this we have to back track to follow his journey into legendary status.
Teemu was born and raised in Finland where he started playing professionally for Jokerit of the SM-liiga. He began his NHL career in 1992 when he started playing for the Winnipeg Jets, despite having been drafted initially in 1988. He returned to Finland to continue playing for Jokerit in the meantime.
During his rookie season with the Jets, he scored 76 goals and had 16 multi-goal games including four hat tricks and one four-goal game. This remains the league record for most goals scored in a rookie season and earned him the Calder Memorial Trophy.
He was traded to the Might Ducks of Anaheim on Feb. 7, 1996 where he has become the club’s all-time leader in goals, assists, points and games played.
In 2001, the Ducks traded Selanne to the San Jose Sharks for Jeff Friesen, Steve Shields and a second round draft pick. Although the Sharks offered to retain him, he opted to move to Colorado for less money with the Avalanche to play with his former teammate and Ducks’ captain Paul Kariya.
After the lockout in 2004-05 he returned to Anaheim as a free agent for the 2005-06 season. In the following 2006-07 season he helped win the first Stanley Cup for Anaheim and California.
After winning the Cup he contemplated retirement, but eventually returned to the Ducks and has stayed here ever since. He announced that the 2013-14 season would be his 21st and last season with the NHL. He played his final game against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 7 in the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 16, 2014.
But will Selanne fade from memory as he enjoys retirement? Is this the last we’ll see him in Anaheim?
After the go-go life of 21 NHL seasons, Teemu has several irons in the fire.
Steak it’s not just for dinner…
It’s become a thriving business for this player. Recently, Selanne opened Selanne Steak Tavern in Laguna Beach, California. He has a passion for great steak as evident when a fellow fan and I were able to speak to him. He was asked where one could purchase a great steak to grill and what is his favorite cut of steak. Teemu just talked and talked on the subject about where to find a high quality butcher shop and how he loves filet mignon. This tavern has opened up a new path for him as a restauranteur, but it isn’t where his journey will end.
Play the TV and coach circuit…
Teemu could work with fellow Duck’s alumnus Scott Niedermayer and the coaching staff or hold a position in the front office working in community outreach with the Ducks organization. He could also work as a TV personality which is very lucrative, but most unlikely for the Finnish Flash.
Return to the ice…
Not with the Ducks or any other NHL team, of course, but there has been talk about Teemu returning to Finland to play for his hometown hockey team. After a recent interview, he acknowledged the possibility of returning home to play.
Home for more than just the holidays…
Teemu will now be able to stay home with his family after being busy for almost all of the last 21 years. He can focus on family life and helping his sons, who now play junior hockey, get better and better. They have a lot of expectations being the sons of the Finnish Flash, but we may just see them come into the league within the next decade.
Whatever Teemu chooses, he will be missed and loved. Fans in Winnipeg, Anaheim, San Jose and Colorado will never forget his charm, class and love for the sport. It is, in part, because of him this sport has become so popular in recent years throughout California. He has a love for his fans as much as we have a love for him and it will be years before people stop talking about the legend of Teemu Selanne.
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