Although his name isn’t a house-hold one, Anaheim Ducks legend Teemu Selanne‘s portrait sits in the Hockey Hall of Fame for a reason. He worked hard, he always had a smile on his face, and he just loved to get out on the ice and play. Those traits are why Teemu won so many awards and had so many outstanding seasons, but just how deep was his career, and what was the defining moment of it?
He scored 76 goals in 1992-1993, a rookie scoring record, and with that season he won the Calder Trophy for league’s most outstanding rookie. He won the Rocket Richard for the league’s highest goal scorer as well. Over time, he also ended up bagging the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for qualities of perseverance and sportsmanship following a career-threatening knee problem. One trophy still alluded Teemu Selanne until 2007 however, and the journey of getting there with the Anaheim Ducks was just as great as his career.
A Breakout Year in 2007
Teemu played in 82 games, scored 48 goals, and bagged 46 assists for a total of 94 points in the franchise’s first season as the rebranded Anaheim Ducks. Selanne led the charge for that team, and he also led the team in points. Along with the help of the finest team the Ducks had ever assembled, the Ducks won the Pacific Division title for the first time in their history. Even more greatness was still yet to come.
Their first playoff matchup came against the Minnesota Wild. Selanne got the Ducks’ first goal of the playoffs and the Ducks cruised to a 4-1 series win. Selanne finished that series with a goal and an assist, and the next series he would play in came against the Vancouver Canucks. Teemu finished that series with two goals and two assists, and the Ducks would again breeze to a 4-1 series victory.
Capping Off the Biggest Victories
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The Conference Finals were the biggest challenge yet for that Anaheim Ducks team, and it came against the always dangerous Detroit Red Wings. They would drop the first game and trade wins and losses in the next three before finally closing out the series. In the fifth game of the series, the game ended up tied one to one and went to overtime with the pivotal point still up for grabs to take a 3-2 series lead. Selanne would make sure that the Ducks would do their best to get that win in overtime, and thanks to Chris Pronger dumping the puck in, Selanne got in hard on the forecheck. The puck came out in front and Andy McDonald pressured the puck handler, so when the puck slipped right to Selanne’s stick, it ended up being roofed into the net for a smooth backhand goal over the sprawling Detroit goaltender in Chris Osgood. Selanne would finish the series with 2 goals and 4 assists and the Ducks would take Game Six while moving on to their second Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
The Anaheim Ducks took the first two games of the series against the Ottawa Senators with scores of three to two and one to nothing before dropping the third in Ottawa five to three. Anaheim came back to take Game Four in Ottawa with a score of three to two, and the Ducks would host Game Five with a chance to win the Stanley Cup in front of their hometown crowd. They did so in a six to two trouncing of the Senators. The bench filled with excitement towards the end as cameras caught sight of Teemu finally breaking into tears with the realization that his dream was about to become reality. It is truly a great memory to watch such a respected and admired player let go of that chiseled demeanor most athletes keep.
At Long Last, the Stanley Cup
The Anaheim Ducks flooded over the boards and piled on goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere as time expired, and with captain Scott Niedermayer being awarded the Conn Smythe trophy for MVP of the playoffs, the next event to come was the awarding of the Stanley Cup. Niedermayer posed with commissioner Gary Bettman, then he raised the cup over his head in all his gray-bearded glory and skated around for all the cheering fans to see. Scott then passed it to his brother Rob Niedermayer, and he eventually passed it to Pronger. There was only one man it could go to afterward.
Teemu’s smile was ten miles wide hoisting the Cup, and he finally got the trophy he was looking for. Despite all of his amazing accomplishments in scoring and overall sportsmanship, nothing could compare to hoisting the best trophy in sports. There’s almost no athlete that ever was or will ever be more deserving than Teemu, and his storied career including this championship victory could only be dreamed up by the likes of the Anaheim Ducks’ former owners in the Walt Disney Corporation. A happily ever after story for the books, no doubt.
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