By Kyle Shohara
After having a night to reflect on yesterday and letting the emotions soak in, the Ducks showed up to work this morning with smiles, laughter and general excitement. Sounds like someone familiar, doesn’t it?
Teemu Tribute Night will forever be a part of Ducks history, and today the Ducks reminisced about the ceremony and memorable game that followed.
“The whole night was so special, honoring such a great human being who meant so much to hockey and Orange County,” said Ben Lovejoy. “[Teemu] truly is, was and always will be the face of the Ducks. The game went exactly how he would’ve wanted it. He loved scoring and he loved goals.”
Although Nate Thompson never had the chance to play alongside Selanne, he says being a part of a ceremony honoring one of the league’s most beloved players is something special.
“It was a fun thing to be a part of and witness,” he said. “The career he had, and the just seeing the type of man he is, is really impressive.”
“It was really special to see Teemu’s number raised,” said Frederik Andersen, whose respect for Selanne was prominently displayed on his tribute mask featuring all-things Teemu. “We managed to come back and get him a win. I was really happy about that.”
As another way to honor The Finnish Flash, the Ducks and Jets donned various Selanne jerseys over the course of his illustrious NHL career during pregame warm ups. Retro Mighty Ducks jerseys were worn, including the infamous Wild Wing third jersey from the 1995-96 season. Also worn was the 2005-06 alternate jersey, Stadium Series jersey, 2003-04 third jersey and the original home white Mighty Ducks sweater.
Andersen and Thompson spoke of their retro Wild Wing threads. “It was interesting looking,” Thompson joked. “But it was really good to go out with a No. 8 on the back of your jersey to honor him.”
Adds Andersen, “That was really cool, and I was happy to get one of the older, really special ones. That was a great tribute to him. I also liked the Jets jerseys, too. That was a cool touch.”
Sami Vatanen grew up idolizing Selanne and cheering for the Ducks when he was a kid growing up in Jyväskylä, Finland. “When I was a little guy, I used to watch the Anaheim Ducks play. It was my favorite team, so it was a great feeling wearing those jerseys in warm ups. I like that logo.”
ALL THAT WAS MISSING
The players knew it, the fans knew it, and Selanne probably knew it, too, that when Vatanen was called upon to win it in a shootout, he’d come through in true Teemu fashion. Sure enough, he nailed it on his first career shootout attempt giving the Ducks an emotional 5-4 comeback victory. But it would’ve truly been a tribute had Vatanen thrown his glove up in the air and shot it down, just like Selanne did during his rookie season in Winnipeg.
“It wasn’t on my mind when I went to shoot,” Vatanen said, with a hint of regret. “Afterwards, I thought it would be a cool thing to do, but this time I didn’t remember to do it.”
“The only disappointment was that Sami didn’t throw his glove up and shoot it,” said Lovejoy, an earshot from Vatanen. “Other than that, the night couldn’t have gone any more perfectly for that special of an event.”