Los Angeles Kings v Anaheim Ducks

Teemu Selanne’s victory tour begins at home in Finland

When Teemu Selanne came to the NHL in 1992 as a fresh-faced speedy goal scorer out of Finland, he came in with a lot expected of him. After all, Selanne was the 10th overall selection in the 1988 NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets (version 1.0) and as it goes with any top first round pick, there’s a lot to hope for. Selanne didn’t disappoint in his rookie season scoring 76 goals and breaking a NHL record in the process and becoming an instant star.

Representing Finland throughout his career in international play is where he showed what a force he is. In five different Olympic Games, Selanne has played 31 games and come away with 20 goals and 17 assists. Doing it for the fans back home has always been special for Selanne which helps make the Ducks season-opening trip to Finland all the more special for the NHL legend who is likely hanging it up after this season.

Jeff Miller of The Orange County Register talks about how wild the fans in Finland will go for Selanne and his Ducks.

Perhaps the only way to truly appreciate his status in Finland would be to walk a mile – or, in this case, a kilometer – in Selanne’s shoes.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “On the other hand, it’s going to be a zoo. Let’s be honest, it’s going to be a tough trip. There’s not going to be much privacy there.”

Selanne’s public relations representative in Helsinki recently informed him that a 150th interview request had been submitted. Selanne’s response to the PR guy: “You know, forget it.”

Randy Carlyle said he expects to encounter “in excess of 200 to 300 media.” Then, unnecessarily, the Ducks coach added, “That’s a lot.”

For a perspective on the degree of Selanne’s fame back home, Lydman stuck with a familiar sport.

“You have to put this proportion,” he said, “but like Gretzky and Lemieux in Canada, there’s Jari Kurri and Teemu Selanne in Finland.”

Teemu the rock star. Teemu the legend. Teemu the hero of a country.

Selanne may very well be vastly under appreciated here in North America even in spite of the vast amount of fans in Canada and the U.S.A. that love the NHL, here there are other stars getting the spotlight. Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Steve Stamkos, Ryan Miller… They’re big time stars over here. While Selanne has the legacy, records, and Stanley Cup victory to his record he’s not the must-see guy.

With this being, likely, his final year in the NHL perhaps the fans will treat a visit by the Ducks with Selanne in the lineup with a similar reverence due to a guy who’s earned it throughout his career.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.