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NHL Centennial

Teemu Selanne made history in a flash

Set rookie record for goals 24 years ago with Jets

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor

Teemu Selanne was worth the wait for the Winnipeg Jets.

Winnipeg selected Selanne in the first round (No. 10) of the 1988 NHL Draft, but it wasn't until 1992 that the then-22-year-old came to North America and began making life miserable for goaltenders.

Mike Bossy's NHL record for goals by a rookie had stood since 1977-78, when he scored 53 for the New York Islanders. But Selanne scored his first NHL goal in his second game and kept filling the net. He had scored 17 goals by the end of November, 28 by the start of 1993 and got his 40th on Jan. 30.

As the end of February neared, the question was when, not if, Selanne would break the record. He scored No. 47 against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 26, then scored four times in a 7-6 win against the Minnesota North Stars two days later to reach 51.

Selanne didn't waste any time going after Bossy's record. He scored 15 seconds into Winnipeg's game against the Quebec Nordiques on March 2, then tied Bossy's record by beating goaltender Stephane Fiset at 16:59 of the second period.

By now, the crowd of 14,397 was roaring every time "The Finnish Flash" stepped onto the ice. The fans didn't have to wait long to see history.

Midway through the third period, forward Tie Domi lofted a pass from deep in his own zone toward the Nordiques blue line. Selanne outmaneuvered defenseman Adam Foote, then beat Fiset to the puck and chipped it into the net from about 15 feet at 9:26, giving Winnipeg a 4-3 lead.

Video: Memories: Selanne sets new rookie record for goals

As the Jets bench emptied, Selanne celebrated by tossing one of his gloves and pretending to shoot it out of the air with his stick before racing to teammate Dallas Eakins.

"The older I get, I almost feel a little embarrassed that I did that," Selanne said in 2011 when asked about the celebration. "But I was so pumped, and it was so special for me."

The game was halted for several minutes while the Jets congratulated their new record-holder. The only problem was that there was still more than half a period to play, and while the Nordiques might have allowed Selanne to make history, they scored four times in a span of 3:34 to turn a one-goal deficit into a 7-4 victory.

Selanne continued to score, getting 22 goals in the Jets' final 20 games to finish with 76, a record that has never been approached; Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals came the closest when he scored 52 in 2005-06. Selanne. Selanne also had 56 assists and finished with 132 points, breaking the rookie record set by Peter Stastny in 1980-81. Ovechkin (106) and Sidney Crosby (102) in 2005-06 are the only players in the 21st century to break 100.

Video: Teemu Selanne scored record 76 goals as rookie

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