Just like it was in 2007, there was a standing ovation and raucous applause for one Teemu Selanne after the Ducks’ season ended. The moment for “The Finnish Flash” was once again overwhelming, and his emotions were clearly visible, with Selanne clearly trying to fight back tears.
But unlike in 2007, the season did not end with him hoisting a Stanley Cup. In fact, it was almost the complete opposite of that championship season for Selanne. The Ducks were beaten down and knocked out in a grueling series against the Los Angeles Kings, ending in a 6-2 rout in Game 7. But this was more than just the Ducks losing a game or a series. This was the end of a historic career for Teemu Selanne.
The Finnish Flash’s career will not be lost on even the casual NHL fan. He ranks 11th all-time in goals with 684 and 15th in points with 1,457. His legendary 1992-1993 rookie season may never be duplicated again in the NHL, scoring a rookie-record 76 goals and 132 points. He is the highest scoring Finnish player ever and has won four Olympic medals with the Finnish national team (one silver medal in 2006 and three bronze medals in 1998, 2010, and 2014), and he was even named the Most Valuable Player at the Olympics in Sochi this past February. He has won the Maurice “Rocket Richard” Trophy, Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, and a Stanley Cup.
For the Ducks, Selanne is the franchise leader in points (988), goals (457), and assists (531) in the regular season, and he also holds the team record for goals (52 in 1997-98) and points (109 in 1996-97) in a season. He also is the club’s leader in postseason goals (35) and second in postseason points (69) and assists (34), second only to Ryan Getzlaf.
Oh yeah, have we mentioned that he turned 44 years old today?
This year had to have been frustrating for Teemu. This was his least productive season of his career, scoring only nine goals and 27 points, both his lowest in any non-lockout season. He was eventually relegated to playing fourth-line minutes and was even made a healthy scratch in the playoffs against the Dallas Stars.
Although his career may not have ended as graciously as Ducks fans may have hoped, Teemu Selanne at least exited on his own terms, unlike former Ducks teammates Paul Kariya, Chris Pronger, and Andy McDonald, all of whom had their careers cut short by concussions. He should be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017 on the first ballot. The Ducks will probably make his number the first one put up in the rafters of Honda Center.
The door on Teemu Selanne’s NHL playing career has closed. But now, what opportunities does Teemu have? Another former Duck and recent Hall of Famer, Scott Niedermayer, holds an assistant coaching position with Anaheim after retiring from the league in 2010.
Selanne has stated that he is interested in working on the team-building side of the hockey business, and it seems that he intends to start by working for the Ducks in the future. Jarmo Kekalainen, a former player and fellow Finn, has been actively involved in hockey front offices since his retirement. He has had a major part in the turnaround of the Blue Jackets since taking the GM job on February 13th, 2013.
The similarities between Selanne and Kekalainen are there. Both are Finnish, played in the NHL, and are both celebrating their respective birthdays today, with Teemu turning 44 and Jarmo turning 48.
Whether or not Teemu becomes a GM in the future, his post-playing career journey is just beginning. He has his own restaurant, Selanne Steak Tavern, and he has made Southern California his home.
So, Happy Birthday Teemu. Your time playing for the Ducks may be over, but we will always have the memories. Thank you for giving the Ducks and hockey fans everywhere your very best. You are a better man than you were a player, and that is a testament to how classy of a human being you are. We hope to see you with the Ducks again, in some fashion, and we hope you have a blessed life in retirement.
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