Commentary, news, analysis and reader-driven discussions focusing on this year's Stanley Cup playoffs.
Selanne broke in with the Winnipeg Jets in 1992 and scored an NHL rookie-record 76 goals in his debut campaign. Though he was an instant star, some of Selanne's teammates didn't embrace him right away. One, a veteran defenseman named Randy Carlyle, was particularly critical of Selanne's practice habits. Instead of putting Selanne on the cover of the team's media guide, the Jets gave the honor to enforcer Tie Domi. "I still get on Teemu now and then," Carlyle recalled this week. "He had so much talent and so much ability, I wanted to see him get the most out of it."
As Selanne's coach, Carlyle has seen him do just that. In 1,041 games, Selanne has posted career numbers of 540 goals, 595 assists in 1,135 games. The man who will turn 37 next month has spoken often of wanting to go out on top and it has taken him a second wind to win a title.
Selanne had a few recent seasons that indicated his declining skills. In 2003, he and Paul Kariya signed bargain-basement contracts with the Colorado Avalanche for a chance to win a championship. Yet somehow, the chemistry failed. Selanne managed just 32 points in 78 games and the Avs fell short of a trophy. When Selanne re-signed in 2005 with Anaheim, it almost seemed like a sympathy move for an aging veteran to finish his career where it started. Instead, Selanne mustered seasons of 40 and 48 goals and at times was the Ducks' only consistent offensive threat.
As he got closer to his ultimate goal this season, Selanne was basking in the moments. He recalled the 59 text messages he received after the Ducks eliminated the Red Wings in the Western Conference final. Many were from his Finnish friends who had promised to come watch him win the Stanley Cup if he ever reached the finals. Selanne flew 16 of them over to North America, including his twin brother, Paavo, to share the occasion. He even needed help from eBay to secure the last of the tickets. The group donned t-shirts reading: "Teemu the Flash." He has hinted, but never confirmed, that this would be his last NHL game.
To be fair, Game 5, wasn't, in itself, a highlight-reel effort for Selanne, who was minus-1, failed to record a point in just over 20 minutes of play and lost six of seven faceoffs, but it is likely one he'll never forget. "These were by far the best two years of my life," he said. "I've always dreamed about retiring on the top."
In almost every lost series, there is one moment of crushing frustration, of debilitating disappointment. Call it the Steve Smith moment. The final victim of Smith-itis (not to be confused with Kasparaitis) this season was Ottawa's Chris Phillips, a steady defenseman, whose fortunes were driven into the ice with a mistake in the second period that embodied his team's dying hopes.
As Phillips' Senators fell to the Ducks on Wednesday night, Phillips made an unfortunate error that called to mind a similar one made by the Edmonton defenseman in 1986. The series provided the only glitch in what could otherwise have been a five-year run of Stanley Cups for Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton juggernaut.
The Oilers were locked in a heated Game 7 against their fierce rivals, from Calgary. Despite playing on home ice, the Oilers had to rally from two goals down to even the final game 2-2. Smith had control of the puck beside his own net and tried to make a lead pass up ice. Instead, the puck hit the back of the skate of his goaltender Grant Fuhr and rolled into the net for what turned out to be the series-deciding goal. No matter that Smith had played superbly for the rest of the series, he was remembered for that one play. Ask Bill Buckner or Scott Norwood what that moment of infamy can stand out among a resume of high standards.
On Wednesday, Phillips' Senators were finally showing signs of life after a horrible first period. Four minutes after Daniel Alfredsson brought the Senators to within 2-1, Phillips was trying to make a play up the ice when he banked the puck off Ray Emery's right skate and into the Ottawa net. The Senators never really recovered.
The Smith moment wasn't quite the same for Phillips, because his team was trailing 3-1 in the series, playing like a defeated group even before his miscue. It was one of several mistakes on the night for Phillips who also deflected home Andy McDonald's opening goal and gave the puck away before a third one. If there is a silver lining, remember the picture of Gretzky receiving the Stanley Cup for the Oilers in 1987 and handing it off to a relieved and worthy recipient: Steve Smith.
posted by SI.com | View comments |
I'm sooo happy for Teemu and his family. After an outstanding career (it may be over now?!) he fin(n)ished it with style. True hockey fans and whole Finland is soo proud of him.
Glad to see Selanne get the cup, after a record breaking rookie year, his body started to break down and to see him come back after all that to probably end his career on such a high note is amazing. Not only did he win the Cup, but he also finished the regular season as one of the best in the league.
Was also very happy to see Teemu finally hold that thing. Congratulations to a fantastic player and one of the league's all-time great human beings.
As a former Winnipegger and a lifelong Winnipeg Jets fan I have tremendous pride to see Teemu and Carlyle hoist the cup. Being at the old Winnipeg Arena the night Teemu broke the rookie scoring record is an enduring memory. Both he and Carlyle will always be held in high esteem in Winnipeg for their endearing personalities and their enduring class. A little remembered fact is that during his rookie season Teemu wore #13, because Carlyle refused to relinquish the number 8. Also, in the original post to refer to Teemu going back to Anaheim to retire where his career started is highly neglectful of those years in Winnipeg, with true fans, who bestowed the moniker Finish Flash.
when is that chump Muir gonna post his retort?
I'm so glad Teemu got his Cup. And for Scott to hand it off to Rob was pretty touching. Reminds me of the time me and my brother won a state baseball championship together in high school. Scott and Rob must've just had the greatest moment of their lives...
I had mixed emotions about Teemu early on in his career. I tended to think of him as soft. And I was a Mike Bossy fan so I didn't appreciate how easily Selanne scored so many goals as a rookie.
But this year he was involved in every game even if he wasn't scoring and he was battered and bruised more than most. I thought in several previous series that he was the best player on the ice.
I wonder if Mike Peca is going to give him a congratulatory phone call. Peca has come close to winning the cup twice before, Buffalo and Deadmonton. But early on in both player's careers Peca (Vancouver)and Selanne (Winnipeg) "met" head on twice with Peca getting the decision each time. And Selanne getting a broken jaw each time from the collisions.
I'm certain Teemu would do it all over again knowing this is how it turns out.
I am proud of the ducks....and for Teemu and the Niedermeyer brothers and for everyone else....but.... I just wish that **%*@% pronger hadn't won.
He really taints what is a great team accomplishment.
i was at the game, it was crazy! The whole stands erupted when the clock ticked to 0, and when teemu lifted the cup. It was louder than game 2 of the world series of the Angels-Giants, and that was extremely loud.
I'm going to go against the trend, here, and say that I'm among those who is NOT happy Selanne won a Cup. I'm a San Jose fan. Selanne's knees were breaking down in 1999, which is part of the reason the Ducks were willing to deal him towards the end of the 2000 season. Instead of doing the right thing, though, and getting surgery and rehab done so that he could play at 100%, he continued to play on his busted-up knees for three years, only getting surgery when he could rehab at his leisure, during the lockout. Instead of the ~50 goal scorer who's gone a combined +52 over the last two seasons, we had a ~30 goal scorer who went a combined -17 for the same period of time. Thinking about how much he probably cost the Sharks by dint of his selfish unwillingness to get his knees fixed until he could rehab at his leisure, I will never forgive him, and I'm deeply disappointed that he's going to have his name etched on hockey's Holy Grail.
Guess whose picture was on the front page of both Winnipeg papers this morning? Teemu Selanne. We never forget our heroes. To Teemu, Randy, and Dustin, all your Manitoba fans say "well done."
One last thought: how come HNIC spent so much time talking to Senator coach Andy Murray but never Randy Carlyle? Randy had the Senators figured out right from game one. Lindy Ruff didn't. Lou "Hit Man" Lamourello didn't. But Randy didn't. As soon as the finals started, the soaring Sens hit Red River gumbo and stuck hard. Hey Mr. Caseneuve, please talk to Randy sometime. He should be coach of the year.
I saw Selanne score a hat trick in Winnipeg at Christmas in his rookie season, and I've never seen anything like it since, let alone a building that loud on a regular basis. The NHL needs to go back to The 'Peg stat!
Teemu built this franchise with his scoring and more. He was the face of the Ducks in the ninties. The spokesman, team leader and ambassador. He would stay and sign every ugly eggplant and teal item handed to him back in the day. If you saw him around South OC he would talk and shake your hand. I'm so happy he could come home and win with the team he help build in the first place.
An absolutely outstanding effort by this entire team and the coaching staff this season for the DUCKS. Its only fitting and right they won as they deserved it as a team.
I chose to believe the initial hype at the start of the season that this would be their year and I am beyond thrilled at the win.
Watched Game 5 from Canada. My hubby and I were the only ones watching the game in a restaurant bar in a large western city. For sure we were the only ones cheering and lead a round of applause at our table (of 14 people) to make sure everyone in the place knew our team had just won.
Media coverage here biased to Ottawa as one might expect but.. that's OK. Only wish I was going to be in California this Sat. for the Fan/Team celebration but there's no way to make the drive back to Ca. that fast.
To all fellow Anaheim fans, get your buns in gear and go cheer in person for this team. They deserve it!!!
I'm happy for him, even though I'd have rather seen him win it in his Sharks uniform.
I am very excited for Teemu Selanne. He really deserves this. Class act and top talent all the way.
But I am suck of hearing about Phillips' gaffe. It has NO IMPACT on the outcome of this series. It likely have little impact on the result of this game. It is nothing like the Steve Smith goal, and it is getting boring hearing people make such a big deal out of it. It sucked, but the Sens have other things to worry about. That goal didn't cost them this series.
I am thrilled beyond words for Teemu and the rest of the Ducks players, owners, coaches and personnel. For many years, Teemu was the only bright spot on a team that struggled with its identity and lack to dedication to winning from its corporate owners. Throughout, Teemu ALWAYS had a smile on his face and a positive outlook for his teammates and the fans in Orange County. Now that the Ducks have become such a good team that is stacked with talent, it is only fitting that Teemu remains a (if not the) top scorer on the team. Congratulations Teemu, Scott, Rob, Jiggy, Chris, Andy, Ryan, Corey, Dustin, Randy, the list goes on! The memory of that night in that building (Game 5), which started with a remarkable rendition of the US National Anthem, is something that I will cherish forever. Enjoy the summer with the Cup ... you earned it! Johnny
As a Ducks fan, all respect to the Red Wings. They are faster than the Ducks and more skilled with their sticks. The Western conference finals were a classic matchup of speed and skill versus size and strenght. The Ducks prevailed but the serices could have gone either way.
The Sens never had a chance. They are basically a less talented version of the Ducks. Not quite as fast, not quite as skilled, not quite as physical. The Red Wings beat the Sens.
Teemu Selanne has been my hero not only because of his hockey acheivements, but because of who he is. And it was amazing to see him trying to keep his composure as the realization that the cup was finally his, and that, finally, he had won the big one. In other interviews, he hinted that after all the silver medals in Olympic, World Cup and World Championship play, the playoff eliminations, the not-so-good teams he played on, the injuries, he had wondered whether he'd ever get to really win something. You just can't help but feel good for the guy.
To the person who is dissapointed that Selanne won the cup, get a clue in life. If for a second you think that Selanne was playing just for himself is insane. If he knew that surgery would be that much of an improvement for his game, he would have done it right away. When you go through knee surgery, you don't know what the outcome will be.
He signed on with the other teams at a much discounted rate from what a top conditioned Selanne could have gotten. He went to the teams that had a great chance to win the cup and they just didn't win. He wasn't the cause of those teams not winning. You win and lose as a team. He wasn't the captain on any of those teams. He just wanted to win the cup like every other hockey player.
Sure, nobody knows to a 100% certainty what the outcome of a knee surgery will be, but a doctor is always going to present an athlete with the range of probable outcomes, from best-case to worst-case. And it's not like Selanne wasn't aware of how badly his ravaged knees were affecting his game: you don't go from a ~45 goal scorer and a defensive force to a ~30 goal scorer and a defensive liability without noticing.
So saying that Selanne couldn't possibly have predicted that he'd return to form after the surgery is just crazy talk. If he spoke with competent doctors at all, then he had to know that there was at least a strong chance that getting the surgery would meaningfully improve his game.
Therefore I stand by my beef with him: while he was in San Jose, he refused to correct his health-related problems at unknown but probably considerable cost to the team. He was being compensated as an elite player but neither performed to expectations nor committed himself to trying to regain his form. He punked out rather than do everything possible to help his team, and as a result committed grand theft paycheck.
I'm sure there are guys on the Anaheim roster who I could be happy about their winning a Cup, if I gave it some thought, but Selanne is not one of them.
This story reminds of how difficult it is to win a championship. Everyone wants it, but doing what it takes to win it is something else. It's a remarkable accomplishment, and the Ducks deserve it. As an Eastern Conference fan, it was a surprise to see the dominance of the Ducks... they are mighty, because they play as a team.
Seeing the emotional response Teemu had during that game just grabbed at my heart. Also seeing JS skate around with his son in his arms. Great going Ducks! With their young talent (Getzlaf, Perry and Penner) they should be contenders for years to come. I find it quite disgusting tho that the media chose to write more about Ottawa losing than Anaheim winning. Also, if SI does a story on Teemu Selanne, please get a recent picture and don't "ugly" it up. That last full page picture was so doctored I almost didn't recognize him.