If there’s anyone that has any idea what Teemu Selanne is in for tonight when he returns to Winnipeg, it’s Coyotes captain Shane Doan. It was only two weeks ago when Doan made his own return to Manitoba to face the Jets for the first time since the team left Canada in 1996. Like Selanne, Doan was also a member of that final edition of the Winnipeg Jets 1.0. When he returned, there were fans who had waited since his rookie year to welcome him back to Winnipeg.
“They’re going to absolutely love him there,” Doan told Pro Hockey Talk this week. “I mean, everybody in Winnipeg loves Teemu. He could never do anything wrong in that city. They’re going to love him.”
It’s a wonder what kind of pull 76 goals can buy a player in a city. But it isn’t just the city that loves Selanne from his days in Winnipeg. Doan was a first year, first round draft pick breaking into the league as an 18-year-old during the Jets’ last season. That was right about the same time that Selanne was more popular than the mayor, the Prime Minister, and Rush in the Manitoban capital.
Selanne made an impression on Doan the one year they played together. “Honestly, you can’t explain how nice a man he is,” Doan shared. “As a rookie, as a young guy, he went out of his way to make me feel so comfortable. I thought, ‘he’s Teemu Selanne!’ He scored 76 goals and he was so unarming and easy to talk to. I enjoyed him a lot.”
It’s safe to say that Selanne will get a warmer reception that Doan did during his first game back. Aside from a video montage the Jets organization put together during one of the TV timeouts, many fans inside the MTS Centre booed Doan every time he touched the puck. In his case, the warm memories from the fans only went as far as the logo on his chest.
“Yeah, when you’re playing, I think you’re against their team and they’re very passionate about their team.” Doan said about his return to Winnipeg. “But at the same time, they’re all great fans. It was pretty cool what they did [the video tribute]. I appreciated it. Then I really appreciated it booing too. That’s a lot of fun too.”
We’ll see if anyone has the guts to boo Selanne in his return to Winnipeg tonight. Outlook: not likely.