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Teemu talks

Retired Finnish Flash discusses illustrious NHL career and life after hockey

The superstar forward, who played his first four NHL seasons for the Winnipeg Jets, retired at the end of last season. In the midst of a busy week celebrating his 22-season NHL career, the Flash sat down with the Free Press to discuss the past, present and future.

This article was published 10/1/2015 (2116 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Teemu Selanne has a little more history in him.

Sunday at Honda Center, the Anaheim Ducks will make the Finnish Flash’s No. 8 the first jersey number they will retire and raise to the rafters.

Teemu Selanne sat down with Tim Campbell in Anaheim to talk about his retirement.


Teemu Selanne sat down with Tim Campbell in Anaheim to talk about his retirement.

The superstar forward, who played his first four NHL seasons for the Winnipeg Jets, retired at the end of last season. In the midst of a busy week celebrating his 22-season NHL career, the Flash graciously agreed to sit down with Free Press hockey writer Tim Campbell on Thursday to discuss the past, present and future.


Free Press: Now that you’re not playing, what are you doing with all your time?

Teemu Selanne: Obviously my free slot, (free) time is between 8 and 3. We drive our daughter to school. Our two boys are driving so my third one goes with them. And I play either golf or tennis or both, then 3 o’clock life pretty much starts with the kids, hobbies and the homework and stuff.

I’m really enjoying every day. Obviously for so many years playing with the schedule and the disciplined life and everything. And now when you don’t have it, I’m really enjoying it. Every morning. Plus my body has been feeling great. Obviously the older you get, like the last couple of years, after the games, next morning you took a couple of steps and tried to find the sore spots. No more of that.

I really enjoy it. So far, I’m actually surprised. The game itself, I haven’t missed much at all. Obviously my teammates, and the locker room life and some dinners and stuff.

The game? I played enough.


FP: What’s in your future? A hockey job?

Selanne: Eventually I will do a little more. Now I do only PR stuff for the Ducks and some sponsor nights. And we have a steakhouse in Laguna Beach and I go there a couple of times a week to keep me a little busy. Eventually I’m going to do something for hockey, for the Ducks. But the first year... no schedule.

I still joke about that, (that) I don’t know what I’m going to do when I grow up."


FP: Did you play too long? Last year didn’t go so well on the ice.

Selanne: Absolutely not. If I would have retired a year earlier, I would probably have regretted it that I didn’t play. I knew it was going to be an Olympic year and the full package. Obviously in the last year or so, the ice time here started coming down and my role was a little bit harder to accept but I knew the Olympics was going to be a time when I can shine still shine one more time and it turned out to be exactly how I dreamed about it. And after that season, I knew 100 per cent sure I’m done. This is a perfect ending. Well, not perfect. I wanted to win the Stanley Cup. But very close.

Teemu Selanne returned for a curtain call in Winnipeg after being chosen as the game's first star on Dec. 17, 2011.


Teemu Selanne returned for a curtain call in Winnipeg after being chosen as the game's first star on Dec. 17, 2011.

FP: There were times you weren’t sure if you should retire. So now you’re sure?

Selanne: I decided I was going to play as long as I even wanted to play just a little bit. It took a long time to make a decision. But I wanted to make sure it was the right decision. Right after the season, I didn’t have any timetable on when I’d have to decide it. I’m very thankful that Brian Burke and Bob Murray were very patient about waiting for my decisions all the time. I can’t say any date. It has to come from my heart if I want to start working out, especially in this old age, there are no shortcuts. You have to be 100 per cent dedicated for your job. That’s why. I think it was the perfect time.


FP: What was the best part of your farewell tour last year? Everywhere you went, people acknowledged you and your career.

Selanne: Obviously the most special city was Winnipeg. I still, I can’t stop wondering how the people were so excited, especially when I went there the first time a few years ago (2011). I left there a long, long time ago, in ’96, and coming back, what I got, it was overwhelming. It was unbelievable. It was really special. I really loved that. Too bad we were there only one day.


Obviously I have great memories from there. I was very, very mad, not mad but disappointed when I got traded. I never wanted to leave. So I never had a chance to say goodbye there. Next day I’m gone. I didn’t even see my teammates. Everything happened so quickly. That’s why it was so important to me that I had a chance to go there a few more times. When I heard that Winnipeg got a team back, I was the first one to check out when we’d play there. It was a big thing for me.


FP: You wrote a book that came out in Finland late last year, one that ruffled some feathers around here about some of the things you had said. Have you made peace with Bruce Boudreau and Ryan Getzlaf and your teammates?

Selanne: Absolutely. The way that it came out, it came totally the wrong way. If you read the whole book, the way things went last year, I tried to explain things honestly, what happened and how I felt about it. Whoever did the translation was very poor, too. There’s no... I didn’t mean to hurt anybody. I just tried to tell how things went and how I felt.

I said many times in the book that Bruce is a great guy. The problem we had was the vision about what kind of player I am. I felt that I should be on the first power play. He said no, I shouldn’t, or 20 minutes per game.

It was only professional problems. It was hockey-related things. It was nothing else. Obviously when you take one line here, one here, one here, it looked pretty bad. I was disappointed about it. I talked with Bruce. We are OK. No hard feelings. The thing is, I felt bad also, because that’s not my style, to try to rip anybody. I just tried to be honest about what happened and how I felt with it. Everything’s fine here. This is an important relationship between the club and myself. I tried to live life having no enemies. I don’t have any.

Teemu Selanne plays for the Jets against the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 14, 1995.


Teemu Selanne plays for the Jets against the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 14, 1995.

FP: In 1988, after you were drafted, why did it take you four years to come to North America?

Selanne: I would probably come earlier but when I got drafted, I went to the army. Then after the army year — it’s mandatory in Finland — I said I wanted to play one more year and then I’ll come over. Then I broke my leg right at the beginning of the season and I missed 10 months and I said I wasn’t ready to go to the NHL. I hadn’t played in 10 months and my body wasn’t (ready). So I played one more year. Then I was very close to coming here and then it was the Olympic year, no NHL players. That’s one thing that I always grew up hoping to play in the Olympics. So I said, you know what, I probably could go to the NHL right now but the NHL players can’t participate in the Olympics so I’m going to play one more year and Olympics and Canada Cup that year. After that, I said I’m going to be so ready. That’s why it took a long time.


FP: That first year in Winnipeg was so memorable. There were so many moments, but are any of those moments more special to you than others?

Selanne: It was funny because that year was so unbelievable I didn’t realize what happened until years later. It was just like a dream and the way I was so hungry to prove myself that I can play well and how ready I am. I was so hungry. It was like a snowball going down a hill. I had more and more confidence and I just wanted to score and enjoy every day.

"Obviously the Mike Bossy record, the goal-scoring record, that’s probably the most special memory from that year. And the white noise in the playoffs. But the way the people treated me, it was almost hard to understand and believe how people were so excited.


FP: Who in your life has helped you be so good about signing autographs and so good with people?

Selanne: Not really anyone. It’s just a personal matter. I’ve always been very open, very easy to talk to. I think my parents, the way they raised me was to treat people well and they will also treat you well. And that’s what I always tried to remember. Everything comes very easy for me. I’ve been probably, the last couple of days signing, 2,000, 3,000 autographs. I shouldn’t complain because I was in elementary school, when I’d get bored in school and in class, I’d practice my autograph. So now I can sign those. I shouldn’t complain. I always said that’s the easiest part of being an athlete. Everything else is hard. Signing a few autographs here and there to make people happy, I’m happy if somebody’s happy.


FP: Many people in Winnipeg still talk about you playing road hockey in south River Heights. Are they all true stories?

Selanne: Yeah, Campbell Street. Absolutely. I’m still like a little boy. I was working two years in kindergarten before I came to the NHL. I’ve always been very playful. Then there were kids in our neighbourhood, well, a couple of times I came with my suit on and just took the jacket and tie off and went to play. It was just fun. I didn’t have kids at that time. It was just fun.


FP: Your Jets coach Terry Simpson said the other day that your trade was probably the worst trade ever made in hockey. It didn’t turn out poorly for you but how do you see it now?

Selanne: I remember that day. Terry pulled me aside and said there was a phone call in his office. That was tough. Richard Burke was the (incoming) owner at that time and he called me just 10 days before that and said, ‘You’re not for sale. Don’t worry about the rumours.’ So I didn’t expect to get traded. And then it happened. I was so mad, so disappointed. Like I said, I didn’t want to leave. I was happy there. I knew that Winnipeg was going to go to Phoenix and I was really looking forward to being a part of that.

And the first trade, like they always said and it’s so true, you feel so disappointed. You feel like you have failed. And when I got over with that, everything was great. But it as a tough day for me. And I don’t think that trade was very good for them but you never know. That’s easy to say."

Winnipeg Jets' Teemu Selanne shown in action against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto, March 6, 1993.


Winnipeg Jets' Teemu Selanne shown in action against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto, March 6, 1993.

FP: Why has Anaheim been such a good fit for you in your career?

Selanne: Obviously I’m happiest when there’s activity. And this place, not only is it sunny and always light, but you can surf in the morning, play golf in the afternoon, drive two hours and you can ski. And privacy? I hadn’t had that for so many years after Finland and then Winnipeg. When I came here, it was wow, it was pretty cool to go out and nobody recognizes you. But the people here, the fans, the organization, they have been so good to me. Like I always say, when you treat people well, they’re going to treat you well, too. It’s a two-way street. It’s good advice I got from my parents."


FP: There’s always been talk that you and Keith (Tkachuk) and Alexei (Zhamnov) didn’t get along. True or false?

Selanne: We never had any issues or problems. We were all friends. I think some other people made up some stories. Me and Alex were very close. And I think some other people made up the stories. We were always good friends with Keith, too. Never had any problems. The biggest thing I’m very proud of is that I’ve never had any problem with my teammates or even coaches. Obviously there are things we haven’t agreed about on the ice but that’s the job. Like I said, I don’t have enemies. That’s a good thing. When I see Keith, and when there were rumours there was something wrong with our relationship, we did the public hug somewhere to joke around. I don’t know where that really came from.


FP: Tell us about golf and why you started to play and why you love it? And are you any good?

Selanne: Not good enough (he has a handicap index of 3.5). It’s a love-hate relationship, like you know. One day you think this is the best thing ever and the next day you play the same course, and you just play bad. And that’s why it so challenging. I didn’t really start playing golf until I got traded here. My buddies got me playing golf and I went a couple of times and then my wife started to play and she wanted to learn. So I’d play three, four times a week. And then the more you play, you get better and the bug hits you. It’s great. Honestly, it’s a challenge and you can never be as good as you want.


FP: Tell us a bit about your foundation that helps a lot of kids.

Selanne: I have a foundation here and in Finland. Pretty much same idea — we try to support families who can’t afford to play hockey and buy gear and stuff. Here we help a lot of kids to keep in hockey and play hockey. Same thing back home. We all know it’s a very expensive hobby. To be able to help them means a lot. Also, I always believed the charity work for the children’s hospitals has been very important for me, too. So giving back, it’s so important for me. It’s always been. I remember in Winnipeg when we had Goals for Kids, when I went home the next summer, we created that for Jokerit, my team there. Then we started working even harder for the children’s hospital in Helsinki. I am part of the Godfathers Foundation there, and many others are involved, that has raised $35 million since we started in the early ’90s. It has been fun. But the boom, it started from Winnipeg.


FP: Let’s have a lightning round. I’m going to throw some names, some things at you and tell me the first thing that comes into your head.

Jari Kurri.

Selanne: My idol. And great friend.


FP: Don Baizley.

Selanne: My North American dad. I really miss him. What he did for me, it was just so special.


FP: Paul Kariya.

Selanne: Paul Kariya is the best player I ever played with. A guy who wanted to do everything, everything perfect.


FP: Phil Housley.

Selanne: Biggest factor in my rookie year. Unbelievable vision for hockey and passer. And fun guy. I really miss him, too.


FP: Randy Carlyle.

Selanne: Randy Carlyle was the guy who was No. 8 in Winnipeg, my teammate and my coach. We won the Stanley Cup together and I have a lot of respect for him.


FP: Mike Smith.

Selanne: Mike Smith was the GM who opened the Russian border to players coming. Very smart guy. A little different in his own way but a very smart hockey man.


FP: A Nintendo bag.

Selanne: I lost that Nintendo bag one road trip when we got off the bus and there was no bag. Somebody last year sent me a picture about that bag. George Parros, he said and I don’t know where he got that picture but somebody has my Nintendo Bag. Somewhere. I did a commercial for Nintendo back home and I love Super Mario. I was using the bag as a road bag and somebody stole that. I miss that bag. Ask Randy Gilhen.


FP: Your Stanley Cup ring.

Selanne: It’s at home and I wear maybe three, four times a year when it’s big party. It’s a great piece of memory.


FP: What would you say to young players, draft picks maybe, if they asked you for any advice about coming into the NHL?

Selanne: In the Finnish hockey magazine, I did 10 things about how you should get ready. But I would just say enjoy every day and don’t get satisfied. The day you get satisfied, you don’t get better anymore. So stay hungry and believe in yourself and also remember what things brought you into the NHL. If you have been a scorer, don’t accept the role that you’re on the third or fourth line. Find a way to get better and get the role you really deserve. I’ve seen a lot of players, they used to be good scorers, then they don’t get the job in the first two lines, play on the third or fourth and they accept that and they never get better. Don’t be like that.


FP: Looking back, do you have anything to say to your fans in Winnipeg?

Selanne: I was so lucky that I started my NHL career there. The way people treated me there, it was just incredible. I always remember the license plates had ‘Friendly Manitoba.’ And there’s a reason for that. The people are just outstanding there. The way they make me feel there, I’m so thankful. All the support over the years has just been incredible so I want to thank all of them. It has been very special.

Teemu Selanne celebrates a goal with his Jets teammates before he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks in 1996.


Teemu Selanne celebrates a goal with his Jets teammates before he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks in 1996.


June 11, 1988: NHL draft day in Montreal. The Jets, selecting 10th, go for Finnish right-winger Teemu Selanne. He is the first European chosen that year. The draft was conducted under Winnipeg GM John Ferguson, who is seldom credited for approving the choice. In another bit of historical intersection this day, the No. 16 pick is future Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, by the Islanders.

September, 1988: Attends Jets’ training camp in Moncton, N.B., but returns to Finland to serve a one-year mandatory stint in the army.

September, 1989: In the 11th game of the Finnish season, broke his leg and missed the rest of the year.

Summer, 1991: Contemplated signing with the NHL’s Jets, but opted instead to stay home to play hockey to ensure he’d be in the 1992 Winter Olympic Games for his country.

June, 1992: NHL rules Selanne a free agent because he is unsigned by his drafting team after four years. The new provision of the CBA does allow the Jets to match any offer Selanne received.

Aug. 19, 1992: The Jets match an offer sheet Selanne signed with the Calgary Flames, paying him a $1.5-million signing bonus and $400,000 in each year of a three-year deal. The Jets fume about the Flames’ ploy, but buck up.

Oct. 6, 1992: The NHL regular season begins at Winnipeg Arena and Selanne needs just 4:50 of the first game against Detroit to record his first NHL point, an assist on Keith Tkachuk’s goal. He also assists on a Phil Housley goal in the 4-1 win against a Red Wings.

Oct. 8, 1992: In a game before a sellout of 11,089 at the Cow Palace in Daly City, Calif., Selanne scores his first NHL goal against Jeff Hackett of the San Jose Sharks. It comes at 16:13 of the first period. The Jets lose 4-3 in OT.

Oct. 10, 1992: Goal No. 2 comes against the L.A. Kings and his idol, Jari Kurri.

Oct. 14, 1992: The first of Selanne’s 22 career hat tricks comes in a 7-3 win over Edmonton at the Arena. He recorded five hat tricks in his rookie season.

Feb. 28, 1993: A four-goal night against the Minnesota North Stars (infuriating Minnesota coach Bob Gainey, who had warned his players about Selanne’s scoring threat), reaching 51 for the season in Game 63.

March 2, 1993: Selanne scores three this night. The third comes at 9:16 of the third period, making NHL history as he surpasses Mike Bossy’s earlier rookie record of 53 in one season.

March 23, 1993: Two goals are scored on this night at the Winnipeg Arena but sandwiched in between them at 8:24 of the second period, an assist on an Alexei Zhamnov goal is Selanne’s 110th point of the season, eclipsing Peter Stastny’s earlier NHL rookie points record.

March 30, 1993: Selanne scores against the Flames in Calgary, his 20th goal in the month of March, still an NHL record for goals in one calendar month.

April, 15, 1993: A most amazing regular season ends with a goal and an assist against Edmonton (Winnipeg’s eighth win of the season over the Oilers), and a 17-game points streak, setting the NHL rookie record at 76 goals and 132 points. Selanne, with his late-season surge and 42 goals in the second half, moves up to tie Buffalo’s Alex Mogilny for the NHL season’s goal-scoring lead. He finishes first in goals, fifth in overall scoring.

April 23, 1993: Selanne has his first Stanley Cup playoff goals, a hat trick against Vancouver to help the Jets win 5-4 in Game 3.

April 29, 1993: Selanne has no points as Vancouver wins the series in six games on Greg Adams’ OT goal, a dubious play that leads the NHL to change its goalie interference rules.

June 17, 1993: At the NHL’s annual awards ceremony in Toronto, Selanne is named a first-team all-star and the winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s top rookie. He receives 50 out of 50 first-place votes.

Oct. 6, 1993: The Jets’ second season with the Finnish Flash begins. After Selanne takes the NHL by storm in his rookie year, the new season’s Winnipeg Media Guide features a picture of Tie Domi, thought to be a Selanne snub by Jets GM Mike Smith.

Jan. 12, 1994: At Buffalo, Selanne scores goal No. 100 of his career, in his 130th game, the second-fastest to 100 goals in NHL history. (Mike Bossy, 129).

Jan. 26, 1994: In Game No. 51 of the season in Anaheim, Mighty Ducks’ defenceman Don McSween accidentally steps on the back of Selanne’s skate, causing an 80 per cent tear in his Achilles tendon. Selanne has surgery and misses the rest of the season.

Jan. 20, 1995: Selanne’s third NHL season begins after the first half of the year is wiped out by a labour dispute. He switches to wear No. 8 after the retirement of Jets’ teammate Randy Carlyle.

May 2, 1995: The shortened season ends with Selanne scoring 22 goals and 48 points in 45 games. He records just two penalty-minutes in the campaign.

Oct. 7, 1995: The 1995-96 season, already known to the last for the Jets in Winnipeg before a move to Phoenix, begins. Selanne’s new five-year contract worth $14 million kicks in.

Feb. 7, 1996: After weeks of rumours, Selanne is traded to Anaheim with Marc Chouinard and a fourth-round draft pick for Chad Kilger, Oleg Tverdovsky and a third-round pick.

April 14, 1996: Selanne, playing for the Ducks against the Jets, finished the season with 68 assists, his career-best total. With 108 total points, he finished seventh overall in league scoring and was a finalist for the Lady Byng trophy.

April 11, 1997: With a 4-3 win over the Sharks, finished the NHL regular season with 51 goals and 109 points and was named a first-team all-star. Selanne also scored the first playoff goal in Ducks history (against Phoenix).

Jan. 18, 1998: Scored three goals and was the first European-born MVP of the NHL all-star game, played in Vancouver.

April 8, 1998: Scored his 52nd goal of the season and ended the year tied for the NHL lead with Peter Bondra. Was a Hart Trophy and Lady Byng Trophy finalist and a second-team NHL all-star.

March 10, 1999: Hit the scoresheet to extend his points streak to 17 games (15-14-29), tying his career best. His 47 goals on the season made him the first winner of the NHL’s new Maurice Richard Trophy. Again a second-team all-star.

March 5, 2001: With the Ducks in last place, was dealt to San Jose for Jeff Friesen, Steve Shields and a second-round 2003 draft pick.

March, 2003: With the Sharks slipping, they tried to deal him to New Jersey but Selanne exercised a no-trade clause in his contract. He never played for an Eastern Conference team.

July 3, 2003: Selanne declined the option on his Sharks contract and instead signed for one year for $5.8 million with Colorado for 2003-04, to play with his good friend Paul Kariya. He scored only 16 goals and 32 points that season as he knee problems increased.

Nov. 6, 2004: During the NHL lockout, Selanne traveled to Winnipeg to be among the hockey legends for two days of activities and ceremonies around the last pro hockey game at the old Winnipeg Arena, where he had made history.

Aug. 22, 2005: Rejuvenated by knee surgery during the NHL season that was wiped out, Selanne returns to Anaheim and signs a free-agent deal worth $1 million with the Ducks.

Jan. 30, 2006: Reached 1,000 points for his career with a goal in win over the Kings, the 70th player and seventh European to reach the mark.

June, 2006: After scoring 40 goals and 90 points, the best on the team in a resurgent season, was awarded the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Nov. 22, 2006: Back with the Ducks again, Selanne reached his 500th career goal, the 36th player in NHL history to do it, and the second Finn.

Dec. 31, 2006: played his 1,000th regular-season game.

April 13, 2007: Became the oldest player in NHL history (36 and older) to score 45-plus goals in one season, scoring 48 to make a 94-point season for the Ducks. The goal total was his best since 1997-98.

June 6, 2007: won the Stanley Cup, as the Ducks defeated Ottawa 4-1 in the final series, finishing the playoffs with 5-10-15 in 21 post-season games.

Jan. 28, 2008: After contemplating retirement, signed a one-year deal again with the Ducks and returned to the lineup Feb. 5 in a game on Long Island.

Feb. 27, 2010: Helped Finland defeat Slovakia 5-3 to win a bronze medal at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

March 21, 2010: Became the 18th NHL player to score 600 career goals, with a goal against Colorado, overcoming a broken hand and broken jaw earlier in the season.

April, 2, 2010: Scored his 602nd NHL goal, passing his idol, Jari Kurri, with a goal against Vancouver.

April 9, 2011: Finished the season with 80 points in 73 games, the third-highest point total ever by a player over 40 (Gordie Howe, Johnny Bucyk).

Dec. 17, 2011: returned to play his first game in Winnipeg in more than 15 years when the Ducks visited the Jets at the MTS Centre. Fans camped out overnight at the Anaheim team hotel to try to get an autograph, as the team arrived late after a game in Chicago.

April 7, 2012: Played all 82 games during the season, becoming the oldest player ever to do so.

March 25, 2013: At San Jose, played his 1,373rd game, becoming the leader in games-played among Finnish-born skaters, passing good friend Teppo Numminen.

Teemu Selanne of Finland (8) takes a victory lap around the ice with his medal after the men's bronze-medal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Finland defeated the United States 5-0.


Teemu Selanne of Finland (8) takes a victory lap around the ice with his medal after the men's bronze-medal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Finland defeated the United States 5-0.

Feb. 22, 2014: Won an Olympic bronze medal at the Games in Sochi, his sixth Games. He was the oldest player to ever play in the tournament and was named its MVP.

April 13, 2014: His final regular-season game, a 3-2 overtime win against Colorado. The tally: 1,451 games, 684 goals, 773 assists, 1,457 points.

May, 16, 2014: His final NHL game, a playoff defeat against L.A. The tally: 130 playoff games, 44 goals, 44 assists, 88 points.




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