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Heritage Classic

Teemu Selanne on rookie scoring record, Patrik Laine

Finnish Flash had 76 goals for Jets in first season, believes mark could be surpassed

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Teemu Selanne: Interview 10/21/16

Teemu Selanne speaks with the media

Teemu Selanne talks about Patrik Laine, how valuable scorers are in NHL today, and about his trade from Winnipeg to Anaheim in 1996

  • 01:25 •

WINNIPEG -- There are some NHL scoring records that most consider untouchable.

Wayne Gretzky's 215 points with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1985-86 season is one of those.

Teemu Selanne's 76 goals as a rookie with the Winnipeg Jets in 1992-93 is another.

Not so fast, the Finnish Flash said Friday.

"You know what? Wayne Gretzky said one time that all records should be broken," Selanne said at MTS Centre, where Jets and Oilers alumni practiced ahead of the 2016 Rogers NHL Heritage Classic Alumni Game on Saturday (4 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, NHL.com).

"Seventy-six? That needs a lot. The one thing is you have to do is stay healthy. There's no time to get hurt. I think these days, that's the biggest challenge, to stay healthy all year."

The subject was put to Selanne after 18-year-old Jets rookie forward Patrik Laine scored three goals in a 5-4 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday. Laine, who like Selanne was born in Finland, has four goals in four games.

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

"I think he has all the tools to score 76, or whatever, a lot of goals," said Selanne, 46, who retired after the 2013-14 season. "But it's not going to be easy. Those are just numbers. I'm just excited he's doing good and I'm going to follow closely.

"I was watching that (game on Wednesday); the (Jets') first game too. Both games, they were down three goals, or whatever, and they came back, and the whole building is rocking, and that's awesome. I even get goose bumps for that, how the whole building is reacting. It's almost like a seventh player on the ice."

Selanne said he has offered some advice to Laine, who was selected by the Jets with the second pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

"Focus on hockey," Selanne said. "Don't read the papers. Don't believe when they tell you how great you are. And don't believe when they tell you you've played bad. Don't believe how bad you played. You know the right things. Especially the Canadian media, they can make you a little bigger than you really are.

"He's a good kid, has a different kind of confidence than maybe I had. All his comments, there's a healthy confidence, and it's exciting. I'm very proud of him.

"I hope he can stay healthy and keep playing well. The whole city's excited. I went through a great time here, and now he's going through the same stuff, and that's awesome."

Selanne predicted that Laine is in for a long and successful career in Winnipeg.

"If you look these days, snipers, good goal-scorers, you don't find them very often," he said. "When you find one, you don't want to get rid of him. It's a problem for every team, when you don't have enough goal-scorers."

Selanne had 684 goals and 1,457 points in 1,451 games over 21 NHL seasons for the Jets, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche. He scored 147 goals and had 306 points in 231 games for the Jets after arriving in Winnipeg as a 22-year-old, four years after being the 10th pick of the 1988 draft.

"I came here as an 18-year-old for training camp, but I (went) to the army then," Selanne said. "Only if I could have got a right-wing spot on [Dale] Hawerchuk's line, maybe I could have done some damage.

"But I don't think at 18 years old I was ready."

Selanne said that because of Laine and Finland-born rookies like Edmonton's Jesse Puljujarvi and Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes, he will watch more NHL games this season.

"Absolutely more," he said. "I really try to follow these guys, how they play, and I watch games. The last two years, I haven't been watching many games. Only the playoffs and here and there.

"But right now, I'm excited, and that's because of these young Finnish players. And all the rookies. Auston Matthews … there are a lot of great rookies, and I'm really excited to see them in the League.

"I think it'll make everybody excited."

Video: Teemu Selanne breaks Bossy's rookie goal record

Selanne was an adviser to Team Finland at the World Cup of Hockey 2016, and his eyes light up these days when conversation turns to a strong, new wave of young players coming from his home country.

"I'm so proud," Selanne said. "We are a small country, a little over five million people. The work we do for hockey players and hockey overall is unbelievable. We take a lot of pride to do things right there. Especially with the young players, we have done a lot of good things. Especially in the last 10 years. When we started this program, that we're going to focus on individual skills and individual players, that has paid already now.

"It's a new generation. It's amazing, and there are more young guys coming. Finnish hockey is doing really well. Obviously, the World Cup was disappointing, but we knew that the transition is right now with young guys coming. We can be really proud of our Finnish players."

There was plenty of reminiscing at MTS Centre for the alumni practice, and one of Selanne's best memories from his record-breaking season in Winnipeg was the instant chemistry he found with defenseman Phil Housley.

While Selanne was scoring his record 76 goals and 132 points, Housley, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last year, had NHL career highs of 79 assists and 97 points.

"You know what, playing with Housley was amazing," Selanne said. "He had the ability to see the game so well. He made me a so much more active player. I was trying to find openings. I knew if I'm going to be open, the puck is on my stick. He probably gave me 25, 30 breakaways in that season.

"It was just a fun feeling. The chemistry we had, you don't find that very often. Obviously, I had some chemistry with Paul Kariya and other guys, but not with a defenseman. He was just outstanding. I always believed in chemistry, and the chemistry with Housley was very unique."

Selanne was asked if he planned a reprisal of his celebration after he scored the 54th goal of his rookie season, to pass Mike Bossy for the NHL record, on March 2, 1993, when he tossed his glove and pretended to shoot it out of the air.

"That was a one-time deal," Selanne said.

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