Sunday marked the end of the National Hockey League regular season. But it also marked the end of the final regular season of one of the best players to ever strap on skates: Teemu Selanne. The “Finnish Flash” has been in the league almost as long as I’ve been alive and has put together a tremendous career.
Even in his first year, Selanne racked up 132 points, which was good enough to win the Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year. During his 21-season career, Selanne ranks third all-time in game winning goals and power play goals, and 11th in all-time goals. He’s a 10-time All-Star, a recipient of the Maurice Richard Trophy for most goals scored in a season and has his name on the Stanley Cup as a member of the 2007 Anaheim Ducks championship team.
Drafted by the original Winnipeg Jets in 1988 (now the Phoenix Coyotes), Selanne exploded into the league in the 1992-1993 season. Selanne was traded to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (now just the Anaheim Ducks) in the 1995-1996 season, and has spent most of the rest of his career as a Duck, outside of three years as a San Jose Shark and one season as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.
As a member of the Ducks, he played his final regular season game on Sunday, April 13 against the Avalanche at the Honda Center. During the pregame skate-around, Ducks fans went crazy for Selanne as he completed a lap around the ice. Following that, Selanne shook the hands of all the Avalanche players.
At the end of the line, he reached Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Giguere is the current backup goalie for the Avs and is also in his final season, but played with Selanne for seven years on the Ducks. The two share spots on the 2007 championship team.
When Selanne shook Giguere’s hand, he gave his former teammate a massive hug, and then led him in a second lap around the ice in Anaheim.
This is something that you rarely see in sports today. Selanne made the night about more than just himself.
When was the last time you saw a basketball player celebrating with an opposing player on his last game? What about a football player?
For his amazing skills on the ice, as well as for his class, I will miss Salanne. While I’m cheering for the Hawks to win it all this spring, if they can’t repeat as champs, my second choice would be the Ducks so that Salanne can end his storied, hall-of-fame career on a high note.