Teemu Selanne–The Mightiest of Ducks

In case you are unfamiliar with the man known as Teemu Selanne, allow me to introduce the right-winger and assistant captain of the Anaheim Ducks, from Helsinki, Finland, also known as the Finnish Flash: a silver and bronze medalist with Team Finland in the Olympics, the all-time points leader in Men’s Olympic ice hockey with 37 points in only 31 games, one of the very very few people on the face of the Earth that can drive around in his own Enzo Ferrari sports-car, and a man who has been in the NHL for so long that he was drafted 10th overall in 1988 by the Winnipeg Jets.

In 2011, Selanne finished the regular season with the 8th most points in the league; but what’s hilariously ironic is that the average age of the seven skaters with more points than him is 28 years old—more than 12 years younger than Selanne, who turns 41 this June.

In a league that is being populated by more and more youths and even teenagers, Teemu Selanne, currently in his 18th NHL season, has amassed a career of Hall of Fame-like proportions, and is more of an icon and fan-favorite with the Ducks than Gordon Bombay, Charlie Conway, or Fulton Reed.

Selanne made an immediate splash in the NHL, setting rookie records for goals in a season (76) as well as points (132)—two rookie records that he still holds today.  In 1996, Selanne was dealt from the Winnipeg Jets to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim; and at that time, the team’s colors were green, purple, and white, and the young franchise had only recently been spawned from the Disney movie series.

Immediately, Teemu Selanne formed a lethal one-two scoring tandem with teammate Paul Kariya, and Selanne would go on to win NHL scoring titles in back-to-back years (’98 & ‘99).  Also in 1998, the Finnish Flash would score a hat-trick in that season’s NHL All-Star Game, and became the first European skater to be named the NHL All-Star Game’s MVP.

Selanne would be traded to the San Jose Sharks in 2001, but would make his return to Anaheim four years later; however, after being out of Anaheim for those four years, nearly everything changed: the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim became simply the Anaheim Ducks, new uniforms and logos were instituted, and black and gold became the new team colors.  However, the Ducks’ new identity didn’t stop Teemu Selanne from being an icon and a leader and, that season, he would lead the team in points—registering 90 in only 80 games; in that same season, he would also become just the 7th European skater to tally 1,000 NHL points.

In March of 2007, Selanne became the first player in NHL history over the age of 35 to record back-to-back 40-goal seasons.  In the weeks following that milestone, Selanne and the Ducks would defeat the Wild, the Canucks, the Red Wings, and the Ottawa Senators in the NHL Finals four games to one to win the first Stanley Cup for the city of Anaheim, as well as the first for Finland’s favorite NHL-playing son.

In the NHL record books, Teemu Selanne currently stands 4th in NHL history in game-winning goals, 5th in NHL history in power-play goals, and is in the all-time top-20 in career goals, as well as career shots; in 2010, the 10-time NHL All-Star and 3-time NHL top goal scorer recorded his 600th goal.  Even more incredibly, earlier this season in 2011, Selanne scored a hat-trick and added 2 assists in one game, becoming the first 40-year old player to ever record 5 points with a hat-trick in one game—what makes this statistic even more fantastic is that one of Selanne’s three goals was actually a penalty shot, making the Finnish Flash the oldest NHL player in history to record a penalty shot goal.

Despite talk of possibly retiring after the 2011 Playoffs, Selanne has already netted 4 goals in Anaheim’s first three opening round games against the Nashville Predators, and (despite turning 41 years young in two months) is looking to bring a second Stanley Cup back to the city and the team that love him so much—the Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks.

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