It seems like just yesterday Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne broke into the league as a rookie with the Winnipeg Jets, becoming an instant star with 76 goals and 132 points but it wasn’t yesterday, in fact it was 19 years ago. Winnipeg was awarded its franchise back last summer, after a 16 year hiatus and Saturday will be the first time Selanne plays against the team that helped launch his NHL career.
The 41-year-old right-winger began his career with the Jets in 1992 – a season in which he set the rookie record for goals as well as points and won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year – and spent four seasons with the Jets, leaving right before the team’s relocation to Phoenix in1996. He had so many good memories while in Winnipeg but one he doesn’t like is the day he was traded from the Jets to Anaheim.
“The first couple of days I was just totally shocked about what happened,” Selanne told the Associated Press. “It was kind of a weird business to realize and face that there’s no feelings and you can get traded any time and there’s no control with that. That was a big adjustment here.”
The Finland native was used to players spending their whole career with just one team as it was a common occurrence in his day but it would not be the case for him, never spending more than six consecutive years with once specific team in his career. After several seasons with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Selanne was again traded, this time to San Jose where he spent three seasons with the Sharks before playing one year with the Colorado Avalanche. It wasn’t meant to be in Colorado and Selanne decided to return back to Anahiem.
He will always be known as a Duck but there is no doubt Winnipeg holds a special place in his heart. Selanne still has friends in the city and admitted he marked his calendar for the Winnipeg dater as soon as the schedule came out and with the contest this Saturday night, it is almost here.
“The memories I have from there were so awesome,” he said. “It’s going to be a very special day there and I can’t wait.”
Selanne leads the Ducks in points this season with 29 and although he contemplated retiring this past offseason, he has proven he still has plenty left in the tank. Will he sign another contract at the end of the year? We think it is certainly a possibility.
Photo courtesy of The Associated Press.