WINNIPEG – Playing parts of four seasons in Winnipeg still could not prepare Teemu Selanne for the reception that Jets fans showered him with in his return to the city with the Anaheim Ducks.
Selanne departed the original Jets in a four-player trade with Anaheim on n Feb. 7, 1996 that still depresses many Winnipeg fans to this day. From the moment Selanne took the ice for warm-up until he skated to center ice after being named the game's third star for his two-assist performance, Winnipeg fans unleashed nearly 16 years of pent-up anticipation in paying homage to their departed star in person.
"It was pretty chilling," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said of the experience. "It was pretty emotional. I was getting emotional."
Selanne relished the opportunity to have his wife and children in attendance and able to experience Winnipeg's passion for hockey.
"They are going to remember this, for sure, [for] the rest of their lives."
Selanne has tried to impart his Winnipeg experiences to his children as well.
"I [have] tried to teach them [that] when you treat people well, they are going to treat you well also. And always as a hockey player, signing couple of autographs here and there can make some people happy, and if that can make some people happy, it's worth it."
Selanne had a parting message to Winnipeg fans afterward.
"Just thank you," Selanne said to Winnipeg fans. "It has been 20 years. It has been so special. Tonight really makes my whole career. That was something that I am always going to remember. There's always a big piece of Winnipeg people in my heart."