Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Finnish Flash a living legend

So says Ducks' goalie coach Pete Peeters

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The adulation shown Teemu Selanne here Saturday warmed the heart of another member of the Anaheim Ducks.

In addition to the 15,004 fans at the MTS Centre who welcomed the Finnish Flash back to Winnipeg for a game for the first time in almost 16 years, Ducks goalie consultant Pete Peeters was happy he was here to see it.

"I knew it was going to be fun," said Peeters, 54, the former Vezina Trophy winner who was the original Jets' goalie coach at the end of their run in 1996. "The fans made it more fun with the cheering when Teemu touched the puck and the booing when someone else touched it.

"We were just in Chicago and people were telling us about the atmosphere in Winnipeg. They were even saying it's louder than Chicago Stadium for God's sake. Personally I was very excited to come back.

"My time in Winnipeg was great. I was here when the team left so I felt the hurt as all the city did. It's so good to see them back here and when you hear all the great stories of selling out, it's awesome. Should never have left in the first place.

"Thank goodness we've got it back here."

While many were uncertain of the level of love Selanne would receive, Peeters said he was pretty confident what would happen.

"That's how Teemu touches everybody," he said. "Doesn't matter where he is. He's so giving. "I don't think a lot of of the young players, at times, understand in the dressing room who they're sitting with. When I first went to Anaheim, I personally felt honoured to be in the same dressing room with Scotty Niedermayer. It's the same feeling I have with Teemu.

"Every day I'm with him, it's like, 'Are you kidding me? A living legend and I get to be with him every day?' He's one of the hardest working players on the ice every day, leads by example. Sometimes I don't think the younger kids understand. I believe society has changed a lot. But he does touch people in a special way."

The fans here also touched Selanne on Saturday.

In addition to standing ovations before the national anthems, when he took his first shift 32 seconds into the 5-3 Jets win, when the Jets honoured him with a short video tribute at the first TV timeout and when he was chosen the game's third star, the MTS Centre crowd cheered him every time he touched the puck and booed his Ducks teammates when they did.

The crowd also gave goals by Niklas Hagman in the first and Corey Perry in the third -- boos followed by ovations at the announcement of Selanne's assists.

"I tried to stay focused but I was still very emotional," Selanne said after the game. "Just a great feeling. Even the warmup, all the signs and the (No.) 13 ... .Winnipeg Jets jerseys. I felt like everybody was watching me.

"I was thinking earlier, 'What else could I experience in my career?' There's nothing that comes in my mind."

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau showed what a class act he is by orchestrating Selanne's first shift of the game to make sure the 41-year-old star was properly recognized in the action.

"I wanted to wait for a whistle and then get the reaction when he went on the ice," Boudreau said. "My biggest fear was that there would be no whistle for four minutes and I'd have to keep him on the bench. So I was glad that before the game they gave him the tribute they did.

"I thought this was more special."

Boudreau was impressed by all the evening's special moments.

"That was pretty chilling," Boudreau said. "Take the game away and it was pretty emotional. I was getting emotional. I can only imagine what Teemu was feeling in the first 10 minutes.

"It would have been hard to play. But we muddled through and the fans were great to him."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Flash on Winnipeg Ice

Saturday Score: Jets 5, Selanne's Ducks 3

Production: 2 assists, 3 shots on goal

In the game: 26 shifts, 19 minutes 4 seconds

Standing ovations: at least 4

quote:

'They didn't work tonight so they had to go'

-- Selanne on giving away two sticks to fans after the game

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 19, 2011 C3

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