Teemu Selanne: The Finnish Flash
There are very few hockey players who can dazzle fans with their uncanny speed and offensive prowess like Teemu Selanne.
Selanne was drafted 10th overall in the 1988 draft by the Winnipeg Jets and right out of the gate he established himself as a force to be reckoned with.
In his first season, Selanne set an all-time rookie record scoring an incredible 76 goals. He also set the record for most points by a rookie with 132.
The following year, Selanne formed a formidable line with Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhamnov. The three became known as the "Olympic Line", since all three were Olympians.
Following the 1994-95 NHL lockout, the Jets found themselves in financial difficulties and were forced to trade Selanne to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
At first, Selanne was angered at the Jets’ management for trading him, but once he learned of the bright situation in Anaheim he quickly forgot about the cold winds of Winnipeg.
In Anaheim, Selanne teamed up with young phenom Paul Kariya and the two quickly gelled and formed one of the most potent scoring duos in the NHL.
As a duck, Selanne captured the NHL goal scoring titles in 1998 and 1999. He also became the first European player to be named NHL All-Star Game MVP in 1998, after scoring a hat trick in the game.
On March 5, 2001, Selanne was again traded, this time to the shark infested waters of San Jose.
Unfortunately, Selanne suffered a slight drop of performance during his time with the Sharks, but he still managed to score 54 and 64 points during his time there.
After two full seasons in San Jose, Selanne signed as a free agent with the Colorado Avalanche where he was reunited with Kariya.
This time, however, the two couldn’t manage to reignite their chemistry and after only a season with the Avalanche Selanne left the mountains of Colorado.
During the 2004-05 NHL lockout, Selanne signed with the Jokerit in the Finnish National league. However, due to lingering knee problems, Selanne underwent surgery and was unable to play any games with the team.
After the lockout, a rejuvenated Selanne signed on with his former team - the Mighty Ducks.
With his knee rehabilitated, Selanne led his team in scoring during the 2005-06 season, amassing a whopping 40 goals and 50 assists in only 80 games.
Selanne was back amongst the NHL’s elite players after the 2005-06 season and was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which recognizes perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
On February 15, 2007, with his father in attendance, the "Finnish Flash" moved past Bryan Trottier, with a first period goal against the Coyotes, to move him into 27th on the NHL’s all-time scoring list.
Selanne finished the 2006-07 season with 48 goals, and became the first player over the age of 35 in NHL history to record consecutive seasons with 40-plus goals.
Later that season, Selanne and the Ducks went on to defeat the Ottawa Senators in 5 games in the Stanley Cup Finals, giving Selanne and the Ducks their first Stanley Cup championship. Talk about a great season!
The following summer Selanne considered retirement, but eventually returned to the league in January 2008.
Since then, the 39 year-old has done nothing but add to his Hall of Fame numbers.
He currently has scored 597 goals and is only four goals behind Jari Kurri’s Finnish record of 601 NHL career goals.
On July 9, 2009 Selanne announced that he would retire following the 2009-10 season, stating that a man at his age does not belong in a league like the NHL.
When the siren blows and Selanne does walk off the ice for the last time, his impact on the game will be remembered for many years to come.