WINNIPEG – Teemu Selanne is looking forward to returning to the city where he was dubbed the Finnish Flash.
“The memories that I have, I’m very excited,” the 41-year-old right-winger said Tuesday in a conference call ahead of his Anaheim Ducks visit to Winnipeg on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a very special day there and I can’t wait.”
Selanne started his NHL career with the old Winnipeg Jets in 1992, and his 76 goals and 132 points in that season still stand as a rookie record, earning him a Calder Trophy.
He says he marked his calendar with the Winnipeg date as soon as the schedule came out and still has friends in the city. Selanne says he also enjoys spotting his old former Jets No. 13 jersey in a crowd.
“The memories I have from there were so awesome,” he said.
One memory that he doesn’t relish is the day Winnipeg traded him to the Ducks in 1996, just before the Jets moved to Phoenix to become the Coyotes.
Coming from Finland, he was used to players staying with the same team for their whole career.
He says he was told at the time not to worry about trade rumours and that he would stay with the team as it moved. Instead, he was traded for Chad Kilger, Oleg Tverdovsky and a third-round draft pick.
“The first couple of days I was just totally shocked about what happened,” said Selanne.
“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.”
He moved to San Jose in 2000-01, spending three seasons with the Sharks and another with the Colorado Avalanche before returning to Anaheim for the 2005-2006 season.
Last summer, when he was a free agent, the new Winnipeg Jets came calling and he decided to stay put, if he was going to play at all—something he says he has been pondering every season for about the last five.
“The biggest question right now is if I can play, not where I’m going to play,” he says. “I was very honoured that they called but it’s too late to move.”
His 29 points this season lead the Ducks in scoring.
As for playing next season, he says that’s a decision he’ll make when this campaign ends.
Anaheim (8-16-5) is enduring a rough season—29th in the league just one point ahead of Columbus. The team recently made a coaching change, firing Randy Carlyle and replacing him with Bruce Boudreau.
“I still think we have a really good team here, even if the standings don’t show that right now.”