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NHL Centennial

Selanne's magical season retold in new book

Wing formed bond with Jets fans while scoring NHL rookie record 76 goals in 1992-93

NHL.com @NHL

There have been countless incredible moments in the first 100 years of the NHL, but author Scott Morrison has compiled 100 of the most impactful events in a new book "100 Years 100 Moments A Centennial of NHL Hockey." 

This image-rich celebration of the NHL's past and present is available at shop.nhl.com and book stores. 

In this excerpt by NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell, the book looks at Teemu Selanne's rookie season, when he scored 76 goals for the Winnipeg Jets in 1992-93.

The legend of Teemu Selanne's rookie record 76-goal season in 1992-93 was equal parts production and personality.

"Maybe more the second thing," said forward Kris King, Selanne's teammate with the Winnipeg Jets.

Selanne, nicknamed the "Finnish Flash," made his NHL debut at age 22 and wasted no time rewriting the League's scoring records for first-year players. His 76 goals shattered the record of 53 set by Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders in 1977-78. He finished with 132 points, blowing past the previous mark of 109 by Peter Stastny of the Quebec Nordiques in 1980-81.

Big numbers, all of them, but they paled in comparison to the infinite autographs, photos and smiles. Winnipeg's love for, and from, Selanne was off the charts.

Video: Teemu Selanne scored record 76 goals as rookie

"He had time for everybody," King said. "It was never really about the goals for him, despite all his success on the ice. He just really loved to play the game."

The bond between Selanne and the fans accelerated as quickly as he swooped in on goalies with his blazing speed, to the point that he could barely comprehend the history he was making.

"That year was so unbelievable, I didn't realize what happened until years later," Selanne said. "It was just like a dream. I was so hungry to prove myself. It was like a snowball going down a hill. I had more and more confidence and I just wanted to score and enjoy every day."

There was scoring and enjoyment galore.

Selanne's 76 goals tied him with Buffalo Sabres forward Alexander Mogilny for the NHL lead and his 132 points placed him fifth in League scoring. He scored in 53 games, had 52 even-strength goals and 24 on the power play. He had five hat tricks, scored 20 goals in March (still the NHL record for goals in one month) and finished the season with a 17-game point streak (20 goals, 14 assists). Remarkably, he scored on 19.6 percent of his 387 shots on goal.

Selanne got off to a fast start, scoring 11 goals in his first 11 games. At the midway point of the 84-game season, he was up to 34.

The rookie was just warming up. Despite more attention and closer checking from opponents, Selanne scored 42 goals in 42 games during the second half.

When the season was over, he received all 50 first-place votes for the Calder Trophy, making him the unanimous winner.

Selanne broke Bossy's record when he scored his 54th goal, completing a hat trick against the Nordiques on March 2, 1993. It was his ninth goal in a four-game stretch, and he said the eruption at Winnipeg Arena when he scored that goal was probably the highest point of his season.

"The most special memory from that year," he said. "And the white noise in the playoffs. But the way the people treated me, it was almost hard to understand and believe how people were so excited."

Fans loved what he did on the ice, but they adored how he gave back off it: an autograph at the arena, a wave in the grocery store or joining the neighborhood kids for road hockey games in Winnipeg's River Heights.

"I think my parents, the way they raised me was to treat people well and they will also treat you well," Selanne said. "And that's what I always tried to remember.

"That's the easiest part of being an athlete," he said of signing autographs. "Everything else is hard. Signing a few autographs here and there to make people happy, I'm happy if somebody's happy."

Selanne played with four other teams before retiring but has returned to Winnipeg often, including two regular-season games with the Anaheim Ducks before he retired in 2014. He said he finds the same warmth and enthusiasm.

"I left there a long, long time ago and coming back, what I got, it was overwhelming. It was unbelievable. It was really special. I really loved that."

Time has not diminished the love affair. King, who became captain of the Jets in 1995, said there's a good reason for that.

"He knew right away there was something special there between him and the fans," he said. "It was never phony. It was always legit. He always had the time, and they loved him right away because of who he was.

"It was never different inside the room than it was outside. And that was really impressive. He did all the right things because he meant it."

The feeling from the fans was mutual. It has never faded and has been unrelenting, all sparked by one season of magic.

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