Former Winnipeg Jets star Teemu Selanne thanked the city that gave him his start in the NHL as he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday.
Despite spending only a fraction of his 21 NHL season in Winnipeg, Selanne still remembers what it was like playing in front of Jets fans.
"In 1992 I went to Winnipeg. What a four years that was," he said during his acceptance speech, broadcast on TSN.
"There's no really words to describe that feeling — the way how the people, the fans, the city lived those four years with me. It was something that I'm never going to forget."
Selanne also thanked many of his Jets teammates, including Phil Housley, Thomas Steen, Fredrik Olausson, Keith Tkachuk, and Alex Zhamnov. He gave a special nod to Teppo Numminen, a fellow Finn.
"He was so important friend in that team. A lot of times I didn't know what time was the practice or flight, but he knew, and I wasn't late too many times," Selanne said.
"So thanks, Teppo, for all the help."
Selanne scored his first career hat-trick in his fifth contest and had 11 goals in his first 12 NHL games, earning the Finnish Flash nickname for his speed.
At the end of his first season he netted 76 goals, shattering Mike Bossy's NHL rookie record of 53, and won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's top newcomer. Selanne's record stands to this day and he remains the highest-scoring Finn in NHL history.
His career in Winnipeg came to a sudden end on Feb. 6, 1996, while he was leading the team with 72 points. He was traded to Anaheim in what would be the last season of existence for the original Winnipeg Jets franchise.
When he was back in the city last year for the Heritage Classic alumni game, Selanne talked about that trade and how much it stung.
"I was so happy there [in Winnipeg]. I was so happy to be part of place where hockey's so big and the people are so nice. It really felt like a home," he said at the time.
He would go on to also play with the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche before returning to Anaheim once again and helping the Ducks win the 2007 Stanley Cup.
Selanne said Monday night that he never imagined he would get a chance to play in the NHL.
"When I was a little boy, growing up in Finland, if somebody would have told me what kind of career I would have, it would be really hard to believe," he said.
"My goal was to play in the top league in Finland, and my dream was playing on the national team, and my fantasy was the NHL. NHL felt like too far, I didn't believe I'm ever going to make it, but all those things happened very, very fast."
Selanne also thanked Team Finland and said he's honoured to have worn the Finnish jersey for 26 years, including six Olympics.
He retired from the NHL in 2014.