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.