'Finnish Flash' to return to Helsinki as NHL great
As he prepares for the 2011-12 season, Teemu Selanne's career has come full circle.
The "Finnish Flash," now an Anaheim Duck for at least one more season, will play before the home fans in Helsinki on Oct. 7, when the Ducks face Buffalo as part of the NHL Premiere Series. It's a homecoming nearly two decades in the making -- Helsinki is where Selanne first came to hockey prominence with Jokerit, initially as a junior and then as one of the deadliest snipers in the SM-Liiga, Finland's top league. He led the team to the league championship in 1991-92 and was tops among all goal-scorers with 39 in 44 games.
Selanne left Finland that fall for Winnipeg, where the Jets had selected him with the 10th pick in the 1988 Entry Draft and signed him to come to North America. Wearing No. 13 because his preferred No. 8 belonged to defenseman Randy Carlyle (later his coach in Anaheim), Selanne lit up the NHL for 76 goals and 132 points, shattering the rookie record in both categories. He joined Finnish legend Jari Kurri and Russian Alexander Mogilny (who also scored 76 in '92-93) as the only Europeans to lead the NHL in goals, and took home the Calder Trophy as the League's top rookie.
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While Selanne had his best season with the Jets and has spent time in San Jose and Colorado, he's wreaked most of his havoc on NHL goaltenders as a member of the Ducks. Anaheim acquired him in February 1996, and he averaged 50 goals and 97 points for Anaheim during the next three seasons, teaming with Paul Kariya to form one of the most dangerous duos in hockey. After a disappointing 16-goal, 32-point season with the Avs in 2003-04, the NHL work stoppage proved to be a boon to Selanne, who had reconstructive knee surgery during the year off and returned to the Ducks when play resumed in the fall of 2005.
With his knees now healthy again, the 35-year-old Selanne pumped home 40 goals and finished 2005-06 with 90 points, the most he'd had in a season since 1998-99. He was even better the following season, scoring 48 goals (at 36, he was the oldest player to get that many) and 94 points as the Ducks steamrolled everyone on the way to the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Selanne did his part in the playoffs as well, scoring 5 goals and finishing with 15 points in 21 games.
A lot of players would have called it a career after adding a Stanley Cup to a resume that already included 500 NHL goals -- and Selanne spent a long time deciding whether he wanted to go that route. But after sitting out the first half of the 2007-08 season, he signed a deal for the rest of the season, then inked a two-year deal just before the start of the 2008-09 season and kept on playing -- and scoring. Most special was goal No. 602, which moved him past Kurri as the all-time leader among Finnish-born players. It was one of two he scored against Vancouver on April 2, 2010.
After announcing on Sept. 15 that he will play another season with the Ducks, Selanne will come back to Hartnell Arena, where it all began two decades ago, 14th on the NHL's all-time list with 637 goals. That includes 31 in 2010-11, when he became just the third player in League history to score more than a point a game (80 in 73 games) after turning 40. It's just one more line in a legion of accomplishments that will, at some point in the next few years, earn Selanne his rightful berth among hockey's elite in the Hall of Fame.
Here's a look at some of the numbers that will make Selanne a Hall of Famer:
1 -- Stanley Cup rings won by Selanne, who had 15 points in 21 games when Anaheim captured the championship in 2007.
2 -- NHL franchises for which Selanne holds the single-season records for both goals and points. He set the mark for the Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes by scoring 76 goals and 132 points in 1992-93 and owns Anaheim's records with 52 goals and 109 points, both in 1996-97.
3 -- Seasons in which Selanne scored 50 or more goals. In addition to his record-setting 76-goal season for Winnipeg in '92-93, he had seasons of 51 and 52 goals for the Ducks.
4 -- Game-tying goals by Selanne in the final three minutes in 2010-11, the most by any player in one season in NHL history. All four came in a span of less than six weeks, and the Ducks went on to win all four games.
5 -- Points by Selanne, including a hat trick, in Anaheim's March 28, 2011 victory against the Colorado Avalanche. Selanne became the first 40-year-old in NHL history to have both a hat trick and five points in the same game. It was the ninth five-point performance of his career.
6 -- Career penalty shots for Selanne. He's scored on two, including the most recent against Colorado on March 28, 2011.
7 -- 40-goal seasons by Selanne. Five came with Anaheim, one with Winnipeg and one (1995-96) was split between the two teams, with Selanne scoring 24 goals in 51 games with the Jets and 16 in 26 games after being traded to Anaheim.
8 -- Selanne's rank in the overall scoring race in 2010-11, his best finish since coming in fifth in 1999-2000. It was the seventh time in his career that Selanne finished in the top eight in points.
9 -- Overtime goals scored by Selanne, tying him for 16th all-time.
10 -- All-Star Game appearances by Selanne, beginning with the 1993 game in Montreal. He was the MVP at the 1998 game in Vancouver, where he became the first European player to record a hat trick in All-Star play.
11 -- Selanne's longest goal-scoring streak. He scored in 11 consecutive games for Anaheim from Oct. 21 to Nov. 10, 1997.
14 -- Selanne's rank on the all-time goal-scoring list. His 637 goals are the most ever scored by a Finnish-born player and three behind 13th-place Dave Andreychuk.
20 -- Goals by Selanne in March 1993, the most ever by an NHL player in one calendar month.
22 -- NHL hat tricks by Selanne, the most of any player active in the 2010-11 season.
37 -- Points by Selanne in Olympic competition, the most of anyone in history. He owns bronze medals from 1998 and 2010 and a silver from 2006 when Finland lost to Sweden in the championship game.
48 -- Goals scored by Selanne in 2006-07, making him the oldest player (36) to score 45 or more goals in a single season.
50 -- Goals by Selanne against the Los Angeles Kings, the most he's scored against any opponent. He has 109 points against the Kings, also the most Selanne has scored against any other team.
80 -- Points by Selanne in 73 games in 2010-11. He joined Hall of Famers Gordie Howe and Johnny Bucyk as the only players in NHL history to average a point a game for a full season after turning 40.
102 -- Game-winning goals credited to Selanne, fourth on the all-time list behind Jaromir Jagr (112), Brett Hull (110) and Brendan Shanahan (109) and the most of any player who skated in 2010-11. He's had five game-winners in each of the last three seasons.
236 -- Power-play goals by Selanne, the most among players active in 2010-11. He's tied with Mario Lemieux for fifth on the all-time list, one behind Brendan Shanahan, and his 16 PPGs last season were third in the League.