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Kariya, Selanne honored in Anaheim

Ducks hold ceremony for former forwards after Hockey Hall of Fame induction

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / Staff Writer

ANAHEIM -- The ovation at Honda Center started just as Paul Kariya was answering a question about his favorite moment of the Hockey Hall of Fame induction weekend in Toronto.

It kept on going.

Kariya put the microphone down, stood up and waved, feeling the love from the crowd, on hand for ceremony before the Anaheim Ducks hosted the Florida Panthers on Sunday to honor Kariya and Teemu Selanne.


[RELATED: Gibson, Perry propel Ducks past Panthers]


Selanne and Kariya, close friends, linemates, and, lately, comedy sparring partners, were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday in Toronto with Dave Andreychuk, Clare Drake, Danielle Goyette, Jeremy Jacobs and Mark Recchi.

"It was just a perfect way to end a great week and a half," Kariya said. "The most memorable time certainly in both of our lives. To spend it with Teemu and his family just put the icing on the cake. And I'll always remember the ovation."

Video: Ducks honor Selanne and Kariya entering the HHOF

You could say there were many years building up to that particular burst of applause at Honda Center.

The Ducks retired Selanne's No. 8 on Jan. 11, 2014. Kariya was not at that game, but he did come to Honda Center for Selanne's final regular-season game, opting to stay well behind the scenes.

Kariya's final game here with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim was Game 6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final against the New Jersey Devils. They went on to lose Game 7 at New Jersey.

So, this essentially was the first time he has been back at Honda Center in the spotlight, in anything resembling an official capacity with the Ducks. The past few weeks, he steadfastly rejected the notion that the Hockey Hall of Fame honor represented closure.

Kariya did so again Sunday.

"I don't feel I ever needed or wanted closure," he said. "Everything we talked about before, when I look back on my career, I feel very blessed and thankful to have played 15 years. If I had the chance to do it all again, the good and the bad, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. It was fantastic.

"I think we can agree the most important banner we want to see up there again is another Stanley Cup banner. Teemu, what he's done in this community and for this hockey team and the sacrifices he made to put that first banner up there, he deserves it."

During the ceremony, Ducks owner Henry Samueli called Selanne and Kariya the "first true superstars of this organization," and got the crowd excited by hinting at a possible future jersey retirement for Kariya. Samueli said Selanne's No. 8 in the rafters looked "a little bit lonely."

Selanne and Kariya teased each other some more after the first period. Selanne promised that Kariya's No. 9 jersey would be going up in the rafters.

Kariya said, "Remember, I'm your agent. You're not mine."

Selanne said, "I control you."

The joy Selanne and Kariya experienced in Toronto obviously made the trip back with them to California.

"I think my favorite part of the weekend was getting one more chance to play with [Selanne] on the ice," Kariya said. "It felt like 1996 again. We knew exactly where we were on the ice. The only problem was our legs and our hands didn't react to what our brains wanted to do. But we had a great time."

Selanne said, "The whole weekend was unbelievable."

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