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Selanne Reflects on His Career, Looks Ahead to Sunday Night

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

Prior to Sunday’s Teemu Tribute Night at Honda Center – in which the Ducks legend will become the first player in franchise history to have his number retired – Teemu Selanne held a conference call with national media on Thursday afternoon.

Selanne finished his Ducks career as the franchise’s all-time leader in almost every offensive category, including goals (457), assists (531), points (988), plus/minus (+120), games (966), power-play goals (182), game-winning goals (77), overtime goals (6) and shots (2,964). He is also the club playoff leader in goals (35), power-play goals (15), game-winning goals (8), shots (274) and games (96), and helped lead Anaheim to California’s first Stanley Cup championship in 2007. He was named the inaugural Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner in 1998-99 and won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy Winner in 2005-06, all as a member of the Ducks.

On how he thinks he’ll react when he sees his number retired
That’s a good question. I don’t really have expectations. I’ve never been a part of anything like this before. It’s going to be exciting, and it’s going to be a special night. I have 60 people from Finland flying over. All the fans here, my family … it’s going to be an emotional moment, for sure. It’s a big honor for me. I really appreciate everything that has happened in my career. Seeing that number eight going up means a lot. It’s going to be interesting to see how I feel about it.

I’m not going to cry, for sure. Tough guys don’t cry. [Laughs]

On enjoying time away from hockey
After 21 years of living with a certain schedule and a very disciplined life, I really enjoy the time right now when I don’t have a schedule. Obviously, I have four kids who keep me busy with their hobbies. I play tennis and I play golf, and I try to spend as much time with my kids as I can. Every day has been great. I don’t really miss the game that much, but I miss my teammates and life around the locker room. But the game itself, I think I’ve played long enough.

In the future, I’m going to be a bigger part of hockey and the Ducks. But right now, it’s time to relax and enjoy this no-schedule life right now.

On his youth foundation [Teemu Selanne Youth Sports Foundation]
My youth foundation here is one thing that’s going to keep me busy. That’s one thing I like to do - helping kids and families who don’t have the money to buy hockey gear and pay for their ice time. I’m very happy that I’ve been able to help so many people. It means a lot to me.

On knowing a large contingency of Winnipeg Jets fans will be in attendance
It means a lot. Everything that has happened in 21 years has been incredible. Winnipeg is a big part of this. Speaking of this game, when the Ducks play against Winnipeg, it makes it even more special. There are two things that serve as the biggest honors for a hockey player. One is if your jersey gets retired, and if you get to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The last one, I don’t know yet, but I’ll enjoy this moment. It’s going to be a very special night for me.

On if there is a player or coach who contributed to his success on the ice
I haven’t found any other player who I had more chemistry with than Paul [Kariya]. I’ve been very lucky over the years because I’ve played with great players and had great coaches. But if I had to mention one, I would probably say [former Ducks head coach] Randy Carlyle, especially after my knee surgery. Even at my older age, he still believed I could play in this league. He gave me a chance to come back to the Ducks to prove that I could still play. And then a couple years later, we won the Stanley Cup. That was great. I’ve been very lucky because all my coaches have been unbelievable.

I’ve also had lots of great teammates. I mention Paul, but there’s also Saku Koivu. Every team that I’ve played on, like [Colorado’s] Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg, and the young guys here like Getzy [Ryan Getzlaf] and Corey Perry. The list is so long. I’ve been very lucky.

On how the game has changed since he first broke into the league
When I broke into the league, there was way more offense than now. There were no videos or scouting reports like we have now. There are no secrets in the league right now. The attitude, at that time, was that if you score more goals than the other team, you’re going to win. Now, the mindset is totally opposite. Now it’s about whoever allows the least amount of goals is going to win. Defense is so much better now. We all know defense wins championships. Hockey is great now. All the new rules, like four-on-four overtimes and shootouts are great. It’s very exciting. There are a few things we can do to make it even better, but hockey is doing great right now.

On the growth of the game in California
Hockey has gotten really big here. All the junior programs with the Kings, Ducks and Sharks have done a great job. A perfect example of this is five years ago when the Ducks started a high school hockey program [Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League]. At that time, there were only two or three teams. These days, there are 41 teams. It’s doing great. We just needed more rinks. A lot of great players come from this area. I have three boys who play hockey here. The skill level here is really getting good. I’m really happy to see that.

On what he remembers from his trade from Winnipeg to Anaheim
It was a tough day for me. They were talking about how the first trade is always the toughest one, especially when 10 days before the trade, the new owners of the Jets called me regarding rumors that I would get traded. I remember it was a game day in Washington and I got a call saying, “Don’t worry about all the rumors. Nothing is going to happen. You’re going to be a big part of our future in Phoenix.” I was happy for the call because I was worried about that. Then, 10 days later, I was traded. I felt very disappointed. You almost feel like you’ve failed. When I got over that, I was actually pretty excited to start a new chapter in my life. I really didn’t want to leave. I was happy there, and I was very [ticked off] when it happened. I was mad because when you trust somebody’s word, and then you find out it wasn’t the truth, it’s very disappointing. Like I said, I didn’t want to leave. I was very happy there. It was a tough day, but time moves on.

On the instant chemistry with Paul Kariya
It was funny how it worked. As people, we’re totally opposite. But the way we thought the game was exactly the same. Speed was our key. We could both score and pass, so it was very important that we could make the right decision at the right time. We challenged each other. Every practice we had a competition. We pushed ourselves every day, and it didn’t matter if it was a game or practice. Even in games, when he made a bad pass, I’d just flip him off on the bench and vice versa. When I made a bad pass, I knew he would yell at me. It made us better [players].

We really enjoy spending time with each other. We’re still good friends. It was a very special time.

On his feelings of being traded from Anaheim to San Jose
That was the same kind of story. Our GM, Pierre Gauthier, called me to tell me he was shopping around to see what kind of deals he could get. He said nothing is going to happen right now or at the end of the season, but then a week later I was gone.

I remember when the phone started ringing at six in the morning, and it never ended. I knew something was happening. Pierre’s secretary called and told me the news. I was disappointed because this has been a happy place for me. I loved this area and the organization. It was tough, but I knew the Sharks had a good organization. I had a lot of fun there. It’s a very classy organization, too. I knew it was going to be a good move, but I didn’t want to leave here because this is the place for me.

On what led him to signing with the Colorado Avalanche as a free agent
I was planning to come back here and play with Paul again, but I think he had some issues with the Ducks. He was so mad, so he said we’re going to go somewhere else. We had houses here, so I was a little disappointed because we wanted to play together again, but he had hard feelings. He wanted to go somewhere else, so we started searching and decided to go to Colorado. It didn’t work out as good as we wanted, but it was also an important year for me. I learned a lot. I grew up a lot during that time. That’s how it went.

On the goaltender who frustrated him the most
All goalies are tough. I don’t like goalies. [Laughs]. Dominik Hasek was one of them. I always try to study goalies to see their styles and how they play in different situations, but this guy was so different because he didn’t have a specific style. He was all over the map. It was so hard to read him. He probably gave me the hardest time. This league has unbelievable [goaltenders] now. It’s hard to beat them these days. I used to say they weren’t athletes in the old days, but they really are athletes these days.

On what it meant to win a Stanley Cup with the Ducks
People have no idea how hard it is to win the Cup. I had to wait 15 years. I was so happy that it happened here, first of all because I was playing for the Ducks, and it was at our home building. It was so special for me. There are no words to describe that feeling. At that time, I thought for sure I was done. There can’t be any motivation to do what needs to be done to play in this league, but the passion brought me back. It was a great experience and I’m so happy I came back. I was just following my heart. It was the right thing to do.

Winning the Cup here was so special for me.
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