January 12 2015 08:30AM
In a game against the Jets on Sunday night, the Ducks raised Teemu Selanne’s number 8 to the rafters at The Pond, permanently enshrining the greatest and most important player in the history of the franchise. In memory of Teemu’s career, let’s take a look back at just how incredible a player he was.
Selanne broke into the NHL with a bang. He was selected 10th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1988 draft but didn’t make his debut until four years later. Oh boy, what a debut it was. Surely Jets fans will admit it was worth the wait, as the Finnish Flash broke on to the scene shattering Mike Bossy’s record for most goals by a rookie with 76, and Peter Stastny’s record for most points by a rookie with 132. The 132 points he put up in his first season in the NHL was more than the 123 points he put up in his previous three years with Jokerit combined.
Selanne’s rookie scoring records are widely regarded as two of the most unbreakable records in the league. Since the record was set in 1993, nobody has even come close to touching it. Sidney Crosby put up 39 goals and 102 points and Ovechkin had 52 goals and 106 points, which are the two closest since. Of course, Selanne played in a much higher scoring era than Crosby and Ovechkin did when they broke into the league, as the league average in goals scored per team was 301 in 1993, and 251 in 2006. In their respective seasons, Selanne scored 23.6% of his teams goals, while Crosby scored 16.0% and Ovechkin 21.9%. Even with the differing eras, it’s difficult to refute how impressive 76 goals as a rookie is.
Selanne would never be able to keep up with the scoring pace he put up in his rookie season, as 76 goals and 132 points eventually ended up being his career highs for a single season by a large margin. In his sophomore year, Selanne scored his 100th career goal in his 130th game, becoming the second fastest player to do so, as Mike Bossy did it in 129 games.
In 1996, which ended up being the last season the Jets 1.0 would play in Winnipeg before being relocated to Phoenix, Selanne was shipped to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks where he cemented himself as one of the most dominant scorers in the game. Selanne played parts of six seasons with the Ducks, putting up 1.19 points per game over that span.
His play was also good enough to help lift a Mighty Ducks franchise who certainly wasn’t as successful on the ice as those rascal kids from Minnesota were. I guess you could say Teemu Selanne was like the Adam Banks of this whole operation, as his 109 point performance in 1996-97 helped earn the Ducks (36-33-13) as playoff berth, where they beat the New Jets and then got swept by those mean rich kids, the Red Wings. Two years later, Selanne had his best season since his rookie campaign, scoring 47 goals and 107 points, earning him the Rocket Richard trophy and the Ducks’ second ever playoff appearance — where those mean kid Red Wing dicks got the best of them again.
The Ducks shipped Selanne to San Jose in 2001 where his career was beginning to derail due to injuries. While he did play back-to-back 82 game seasons with the Sharks, his production slowed down, as he only scored at a 0.74 point per game pace. After his tenure in San Jose, Selanne signed with the Colorado Avalanche with his former teammate Paul Kariya, but had his worst statistical season, scoring just 32 points in 78 games.
It was the lockout in 2005 that ultimately saved Selanne’s career. The NHL and NHLPA failing to reach a new collective bargaining agreement in 2004 in time to have a season forced Selanne to take the year off, where he could have major knee surgery and actually take time to let it heal.
When the NHL ended its labour dispute, Selanne signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Mighty Ducks that was seen as a last ditch effort to revive what appeared to be a dead career. The Finnish Flash came back to life in Anaheim, putting up 90 points in 80 games, good for involvement on 35.4% of his team’s goals. The 2006-07 season was full of milestones for Selanne. He became the 36th player and second Finn in the NHL history to score 500 career goals, he played his 1000th career NHL game, and broke Paul Kariya’s record of 300 goals as a Duck. And of course, he helped the Ducks to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Of course, the impact Selanne has had on the (Mighty) Ducks is obvious, hence why they made his jersey the first one to ever be retired in their franchise history. Selanne broke into the league in 1992, one year before the Mighty Ducks became an NHL franchise. In his first full season with the Mighty Ducks, they made their first playoff appearance and then made their second two years later with him leading the way.
They only made the playoffs once (the Jean Sebastien Gigeure miracle run in 2003) before he made his return in 2005. After his return, they made it to the conference finals, then won their first ever Stanley Cup the year after. In his next seven years, they made the playoffs five times. So in Anaheim’s 20 season existence (one year lost to the 2004/05 lockout) they’ve made the playoffs 10 times, nine of which Selanne was on the team.
When he finally called it quits in 2014, he owned the (Mighty) Ducks’ franchise records for most career goals (457), most goals in a season (52), most career assists (531), most career points (988), most points in a single season (109), most career hat tricks (13), most games played (966), and a bunch more.
What a career.