Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The Finnish Flash would make a splash

Return to Jets 'possible' says adviser

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How big would the party be at Portage and Main if Teemu Selanne signed with Winnipeg's new NHL franchise?

Grant Skinner, a financial adviser to players such as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks, thinks it's possible.

"(Selanne) is an unrestricted free agent (as of July 1). He has stated he wants to stay in Anaheim but given his rich history in Winnipeg, it's possible Teemu may give consideration to coming back to Winnipeg. He had four pretty cool years here," he said.

Factors in Winnipeg's corner include Selanne's relationship with Craig Heisinger, the assistant general manager of the city's new NHL team, memories of his 76-goal season in 1992-93 and the second-coming reception he'd be sure to receive.

On the flipside, Selanne has spent more than a decade in Anaheim over two separate stints with the team, he won a Stanley Cup there in 2007 and he has four children who would have to be uprooted from school for a year.

"He might ponder coming to Winnipeg. He has great memories of Winnipeg, he loved it here," Skinner said.

In fact, Selanne's agent, Don Baizley, a partner at the Thompson Dorfman Sweatman law firm, is also based in Winnipeg. But even though crazier things have happened, Baizley was quick to pour cold water on any speculation -- some might call it fantasy -- before it got out of hand.

"I just don't see a scenario unfolding where that would happen. He's having a hard enough time deciding whether he's even going to play again next season, let alone uprooting his family," he said.

"Winnipeg couldn't talk to him until July 1 anyway. Even if there was an initiative, I don't expect anyone will talk to us in hockey because everyone knows what Teemu's intentions are. Zinger (Heisinger) knows me and Teemu well enough to know the situation. It's not a case of somebody not taking the initiative. Teemu and I are well aware of the fact that if he had interest in moving, Winnipeg would be interested," he said.

Baizley was quick to point out his client's intentions have nothing to do with Winnipeg and everything to do with his family.

"He talks fondly about Winnipeg. We've talked about Winnipeg but never about him leaving southern California. He has a tremendous affection for the city and he's really pulling for it to do well. He's told me 10 days ago that he knew Anaheim plays in Winnipeg on Dec. 17," he said.

Selanne is in his native Finland this weekend attending the Midsummer Festival, one of the cultural highlights of the year, and was not available for comment. He finished eighth in league scoring last year with 31 goals and 80 points.

Selanne, who turns 41 next month, is one of the last players still in the NHL to have suited up with the Winnipeg Jets, who left for Phoenix after the 1995-96 season. The others are Kris Draper (Detroit Red Wings), Shane Doan (Phoenix Coyotes) and Nikolai Khabibulin (Edmonton Oilers).

Skinner, who was quick to note he has never represented Selanne but does know him, admitted that the return of the Finnish Flash to Winnipeg in anything but a visiting uniform is a long shot.

"It's a neat wish list. It would be kind of like Ab McDonald coming to the Winnipeg Jets in the WHA in 1972," he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 25, 2011 C3

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