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Patrik Laine responds to Teemu Selanne's praise

Jets rookie impresses Finnish Flash after scoring hat trick

by Scott Billeck / NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- Former NHL forward Teemu Selanne might have retired at the end of the 2013-14 season, but he's still got his finger on the pulse of the NHL.

When Patrik Laine, the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, completed his first NHL hat trick at 2:40 of overtime to give the Winnipeg Jets a 5-4 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, Selanne was watching.

Tweet from @TeemuSel8nne: New sheriff in town...������ Congrats Patrick Laine ���� �� wow...

The message from Selanne, who was selected with the No. 10 pick by the Jets in 1988 and played four seasons in Winnipeg, came by surprise to Laine. He hadn't seen the tweet as of Thursday morning, but the 18-year-old took the compliment in stride.

"Oh, OK," he said.

Laine said Selanne has been a big inspiration for fellow Finland-born hockey players.

"He's a big guy in our country, a legend who has been an idol to a lot of young kids who have played hockey in Finland," Laine said. "He's just an amazing guy. He was an awesome player and it's nice to know him."

Laine said he spoke with Selanne as recently as the World Cup of Hockey 2016, where the 46-year-old gave him a few pieces of advice heading into his rookie season.

"He just said you're going to get the first games just once, so enjoy them and have fun and have fun with the guys and give your best shot with the guys on the ice," Laine said.

As much as Selanne has influenced Finland-born players, Laine said he doesn't want to model his game after anyone, including the Finnish Flash.

"I just want to be who I am," he said. "I don't have to pretend or anything. I'm going to be like this for the rest of my life, I know that. I don't have to model anybody."

Video: TOR@WPG: Laine erupts for first NHL hat trick

Selanne will be in Winnipeg on Saturday to play in the Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic Alumni Game (4 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, NHL.TV). Laine plays in the Heritage Classic on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports 2, NHL.TV) against the Edmonton Oilers.

Laine scored 1:00 into the third period and tied the game with 55 seconds remaining in regulation. His hard, accurate and quick release featured on all three goals.

"I've never seen anybody score goals like Patrik Laine does in practice. Ever, in 20 years," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "There are guys that are good shooters in practice and they can't seem to find a way to translate that into a game. But he has a gift, there's no question about it. It's a different shot."

It's a shot Laine has been perfecting for years.

"I've worked a lot to get my shot where it is right now," he said. "I've just learned on my own. I've watched a lot of videos from YouTube, old NHL players, (Washington Capitals captain Alex) Ovechkin and guys like that. I've just tried to learn on my own and make it better."

Laine's overtime winner also re-wrote Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers history. Twice.

He became the first player in franchise history to score a game-tying goal with under 1:00 left and go on to score the game-winning goal in overtime, and also became the youngest player in franchise history at 18 years, 183 days to record a hat trick.

"It's one achievement more to my career," he said.

Laine said he celebrated his hat trick by eating half a bowl of ice cream. It was Smarties flavor and his girlfriend ate the other half.

"That was pretty good," Laine said. "My dad bought it."

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