WINNIPEG – Teemu Selanne will have his family and plenty of old friends on hand when he makes his NHL return to Winnipeg on Saturday night.
But one figure who will not be with Selanne is Randy Carlyle, his former Winnipeg Jets teammate and Anaheim Ducks coach.
Selanne’s 1992-93 rookie season and Carlyle’s final season with the Jets began a relationship that continued nearly 20 years later in Anaheim. But the Ducks’ struggles this season cost Carlyle his coaching job and denied the pair an opportunity to return to Winnipeg together.
Carlyle and Selanne had long ago circled the Ducks-Jets game on their calendars.
“We were both very excited. I feel very sorry that he can’t be here today as a coach,” Selanne said.
After Selanne spent the 2003-04 season with the Colorado Avalanche, Carlyle helped bring Selanne back to Anaheim despite the sniper’s knee problems. Selanne has since gone on to spend seven seasons with the Ducks, record a pair of 40-goal seasons and win a Stanley Cup in 2007.
“He believed that I could still play well,” Selanne said of his former teammate-turned-coach. “I’m very thankful to him for that. It’s too bad that he’s not here.”