For some reason the chronically serious Kariya found himself hanging around with Selanne, who was still with the Jets, at the 1996 All-Star Game. Selanne is the un-Kariya. Back home in Helsinki during the off-season, he tools around in a 14-seat used school bus he calls the Party Bus. The gregarious Selanne is known to have phoned his buddies from Winnipeg's dressing room between periods to ask, "What are we doing tonight?"
Eighteen days after that All-Star Game, Ducks general manager Jack Ferreira traded for Selanne. Together, Kariya and Selanne are greater than the sum of their formidable parts. "I've played with a lot of great players, guys like Eric Lindros, and we've had good chemistry," says Kariya, "but not the kind of chemistry Teemu and I have. It's so much fun playing the game when you know exactly what the other person's going to do."
What could Phoenix do to shut down Kariya and Selanne? Tipping the Coyotes' hand in Game 2 was Phoenix center Mike Stapleton, who during a 10-second span in the second period elbowed Kariya in the head and then cracked Selanne in the mouth with the blade of his stick. With Stapleton serving a slashing penalty, Anaheim defenseman J.J. Daigneault scored the first of his two goals on the night.
In Game 3, when ham-handed Phoenix winger Darrin Shannon—who'd scored four playoff goals in eight NHL seasons—popped in two goals in the first period, the Ducks knew it wasn't their day. In defeat, Selanne could not force himself to be as grim as his teammates. "We didn't expect to win every game," he said, smiling. "We weren't ready to play today. Next time, we will be."
He stepped outside, squinted and reached for his sunglasses.