Monday, January 12, 2015

Teemu Selanne Jersey Card

It was just a few hours ago that the Anaheim Ducks retired Teemu Selanne's number, in an hour-and-a-half ceremony that was classy, solemn, and yet a tad lengthy (the jersey itself could have taken less than 8 minutes to get to the rafters, for example, even Selanne and his family looked at a loss at some point), but more than his speech or the rising itself, what got to me the most was that both the Ducks and the Winnipeg Jets (not quite the franchise that had drafted him, but its spiritual successor of sorts) wore not just Selanne jerseys, but different ones, with the Jets sporting their early-to-mid-1990s white uniform (with horizontal arm stripes), and some Ducks even sporting the much-maligned Disney third uniform (and too many orange ones from last year's Stadium Series, probably so they could sell whatever's left over):

By now, I'm sure you're aware he's going to be a first-ballot Hall Of Famer. Before even coming to North America, he won the Finnish League's trophies for best goal-scorer, most gentlemanly player and his team (Jokerit Helsinki) won its league championship.

He holds the NHL rookie scoring records with an astounding 76 goals and 132 points, and finished his career with 684 goals (good for 11th of all-time) and 1457 points (15th of all-time) in 1451 games. The only team with which he was far from the point-per-game rhythm was his season with the Colorado Avalanche, where his 16 goals and 32 points in 78 games were a bit of a disappointment.

As a member of the Ducks franchise, he leads the team with 457 career goals, and his 988 points are just short of the 1000 mark. He also had 44 goals and 88 points in 130 playoff games, including 15 points in 21 games in 2006-07 when he won the Stanley Cup.

Both his 500th and 600th goals were scored against the Avs.

Sure, he had four 100-point seasons and two more in the 90s, but his point production that struck me the most were his 80 points in 73 games at the age of 39 in 2010-11. He was also - fittingly - the first recipient of the Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy as top goal scorer in 1998-99, marking the third time he led the league in goals.

He also won a Masterton Trophy and was a perennial contender for the Lady Byng and Hart as well, though he was often a finalist but never a winner of those. He did end up on two end-of-season First All-Star Teams, and two Second All-Star Teams as well, and played in a total of 10 All-Star Games.

Internationally, the Finnish Flash has probably won his own weight in medals despite playing for often-neglected and perennial underdogs Team Finland, often classified behind Canada, the United States, Russia and Sweden if only because Finland has a smaller population. Still, he has a silver (2006) and three bronze (1998, 2010, and 2014) Olympic medals, and his 43 career points at the Games are, indeed, an IIHF record, and he also has silver (1999) and bronze (2008) medals from the World Championships. He was named the MVP of the 2014 Games and the best forward of the 2006 ones, and MVP of the 1999 Worlds.

I wrote to him in April, and I never really expected an answer back - I just wanted him to know how I felt about him as a player and as the classy human that he is. I tried to save up enough money for a trip to his final game in Anaheim, but I just couldn't get it together fast enough. It turned out to be a tear-inducer, though.

I have a couple of jersey cards of his, and I thought I could feature this one today, from Upper Deck's 2000-01 Pros & Prospects set (#TS of the Game Jersey sub-set), showing him with the Mighty Ducks Of Anaheim's classic white (home) uniform and featuring a black swatch:
The Finnish Flash retired as one of the most charismatic players in the game; Grandfather Time, Jaromir Jagr, seems poised to take up the mantle, but Selanne will never be forgotten.

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