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Anaheim Ducks retire Teemu Selanne's No. 8

by Curtis Zupke / NHL.com

ANAHEIM -- Teemu Selanne said he was going to be a "tough guy" and wouldn't cry at his jersey retirement ceremony, but it was not difficult to notice him getting choked up at times.

"I didn't cry, but it was close," Selanne said afterward. "The toughest part to keep the emotions was when I was walking down the stairs (for his entrance onto the stage). I think the whole thing just hit so hard. Plus, I have to concentrate that I don't fall down. But what a night. I never stop wondering the impact with the people. It's all around me. It's very special."

Selanne became the first player in Anaheim Ducks history to have his jersey retired Sunday night during a touching presentation at Honda Center.

The ceremony showcased the genuineness of "The Finnish Flash," whose No. 8 was raised to the rafters in front of a crowd of 17,356.

"First number goes up and a lot of history there," Selanne said. "It was so special for my family, and a lot of other people too. It was a proud moment.

SELANNE JERSEY RETIREMENT

The Anaheim Ducks retired the No. 8 of Teemu Selanne, their all-time leader in eight categories, including goals, assists and points, on Sunday.

"I don't remember the last time I was this nervous. Obviously I didn't know what to expect, but it was really special. The whole package was perfect."

Perhaps the most poignant moment came when Selanne thanked his wife, Sirpa, who shed tears. Selanne then recognized his 7-year-old daughter, Veera, as "my princess" and said of his family, which also includes sons Eemil, 18, Eetu, 17, and Leevi, 14, "You guys are my life."

Toward the end of his speech, Selanne talked about what the Orange County community has meant to him since he arrived in Anaheim following a trade from the Winnipeg Jets in February 1996, and what it meant for him and the Ducks to change the sports landscape here.

"People ask me, 'Was the 2007 Stanley Cup the biggest thing in my career?' Selanne said. "I say, 'Yeah, but the biggest thing is we won it right here. Thank you so much. This night is so special for me. I'm never going to forget this."

Selanne thanked his parents before talking about his pride for Finland and playing for its national team.

"When I first got there, I didn't know much about Winnipeg," he said. "I know there's two things: hockey and great people."

Selanne also thanked his former agent, Don Baizley, who he refers to as his "North American dad," for guiding him through his early NHL career. Selanne pointed to an empty chair put out in honor of Baizley, who died in 2013.

Selanne thanked all levels of the Ducks organization, from owners Henry and Susan Samueli for their emphasis on community work, to the management for being patient with his dalliances with retirement, and the equipment managers.

Selanne then recognized his teammates.

"There's nothing like playing hockey with a bunch of guys who think the same way, who still feel like they're 10 years old," Selanne said. "I really want to thank them for all the years. I'm really going to miss you."

Selanne is the Ducks' all-time leader in goals, points and games played, among numerous other categories. He also shares the NHL rookie goal-scoring record of 76 goals.

"You are permanently ingrained in the soul of the Anaheim Ducks franchise," Henry Samueli said.

But Selanne is as much known for his relationship with his fans as he is for his accomplishments on the ice.

"We have over 17,000 of your friends here, and I get the feeling that at some point you may have met every single one of them," said Ducks television color commentator Brian Hayward, who served as ceremony host.

The guests for the ceremony included Selanne's former Ducks teammates Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Saku Koivu, Chris Pronger, George Parros, Scott Niedermayer, Steve Rucchin and Guy Hebert.

Giguere said Selanne inspired him as a father -- "He always looked like such a cool dad" -- and gave him a hard time about practicing against him.

"What you don't know is that Teemu had a muffin for a shot," Giguere said in reference to a weak shot. "What I'd like to know is how you fooled so many goalies over the years?"

Selanne's boyhood idol, Jari Kurri, told a funny story about Selanne borrowing his new car and returning it with some damage to the tires when he first met him 25 years ago. Kurri also praised Selanne as an inspiration for Finland, and he gave him some advice.

"Enjoy your retirement, but I hope that at some point, you go back into hockey, somehow, some way, soon," Kurri said.

Commissioner Gary Bettman provided a light moment when he said of his reception, "I would get booed to be with Teemu anytime. It sounds like you're going, 'Teemuuu!'"

Former teammate Paul Kariya was unable to attend because of a planned trip, and former Ducks coach Randy Carlyle could not attend because of a death in his family. There was applause when Kariya was shown in a video montage.

"I think time heals," Selanne said of Kariya. "There's something [going on with him] that he doesn't want to be part of hockey right now. That's my next challenge, to get him back into hockey. Right now he doesn't want to be a part of it. I respect that."

The Stanley Cup was on display, along with the other trophies that Selanne has won: the Maurice Richard Trophy for leading the NHL in goal-scoring and the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance and dedication to hockey.

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