Teemu Selanne is back in Winnipeg tonight to say a proper good-bye to Winnipeg fans who once again have an NHL team of their own.

Selanne's abrupt trade on Feb. 7, 1996 still rankles him. It was a trade that then-Jets-GM John Paddock said in the end might have been a mistake, but as sad as it was, one that was pretty much unavoidable.

That's because the team's new owners and their then-hockey-adviser-turned-failed-GM Bobby Smith couldn't afford an expensive team in Phoenix, either.

"It wasn't a very good time, not a fun thing," said Paddock, now the Philadelphia Flyers' assistant GM. "It was somewhat worded to me that we couldn't have three $3-million forwards on the team.

"That's how times have and haven't changed. It was a financial decision; we had to change the money around and it still happens today."

Paddock agreed that the deal never turned out well for the Jets/Phoenix Coyotes.

"The players (we got) never developed," said Paddock, who was cut adrift by the franchise in 1997. "It (the trade) was something that had to happen, in some ways a mistake... but sometimes you have to do things.

"There are a lot of ifs and buts and would'ves, but overall how would you have kept all those players in Phoenix? If he had never left, others would have down the road, but I had nothing to do with that.

"The team would have changed anyway, but in a perfect world, would you trade him? Of course not."

Before the mess of 1996, Paddock had a front-row seat for Selanne's quick rise to stardom in Winnipeg.