In the dog days of Teemu Selanne’s second NHL season, he turned to Winnipeg Jets teammate and fellow Finn, Teppo Numminen, with a concern.
“He said ‘No way I’m going to last here more than five years. There’s too many games!’” recalled Numminen, who had experienced the same shock five years earlier. “I just laughed.
"Twenty years later, it hasn’t seemed to affect him.”
The 2013 season has felt like one big retrospective for Selanne. He’s had a Finnish documentary film crew following him around for the past few years to try and capture the last days of his career. With Dwayne Roloson’s retirement, Selanne, 42, is now the elder statesman of the league, and on Saturday in Phoenix, he celebrated the 20th anniversary of breaking Mike Bossy’s rookie goal-scoring record during an epic 76-goal season.
“All the interviews and the clips and the things I’ve seen, it brings back a lot of memories,” said Selanne, before flashing that trademark wry smile. “Sometimes, it refreshes the memory.”
With Selanne and his Anaheim Ducks teammates in the midst of three consecutive games against the Coyotes, including back-to-back contests at Jobing.com Arena, it was hard to avoid another painful memory. Had history proceeded down a different path, this might have been home for Selanne.
The Jets had already visited Phoenix during the 1995-96 All-Star break, and everyone associated with the team knew it would be their last season in Winnipeg. Most observers assumed that one big piece would not be making the trek southward, because the club’s payroll was too high in a league with no salary cap and a market that used the weak Canadian dollar but paid players in U.S. dollars.
The Blackhawks had signed Winnipeg restricted free agent Keith Tkachuk to an offer sheet before that season, forcing the Jets to match it and hold onto him for at least a calendar year. Center Alex Zhamnov was playing out his option year, while Selanne had just signed a five-year deal worth $14 million, making him the most attractive trade bait.
Selanne still a painful reminder for Coyotes
Fox Sports Arizona | Mar 6