Tribute to Teemu Week: Selanne's Formative Years with the Jets

[Ed. Note: On Saturday, Teemu Selanne will be making his triumphant return to Winnipeg since being traded during the 1995-1996 season. As a tribute to Teemu, Anaheim Calling will be spending the days leading up to his homecoming in the 'Peg taking a look back at what got him to this point in his career. First up was Teemu and the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. Now he's ready to suit 'em up for the Jets.]

You've probably heard this before, but Teemu had a pretty good rookie year with the Jets in 1992-1993. And by pretty good, I mean the dude still holds the rookie records for goals and points he established that season. While he would never recapture the epic performance from that first season, Teemu's four years with Winnipeg established the breathtaking speed and skill that helped create the Finnish Flash moniker.

While Selanne experienced a lot of great moments as a Jet, you may be surprised to learn that it was in his first year that he first crossed paths with the man that would eventually coach Teemu to his only Stanley Cup (so far). Then-defenseman Randy Carlyle welcomed Selanne to the pros by promptly refusing to give up his number 8 jersey to Teemu. Selanne eventually decided to wear 13, and to-date, they are the only two jersey numbers Teemu has ever worn. For Ducks fans, this meeting between Selanne and Carlyle early in his career (and Carlyle's refusal to accede to the young Selanne) is oddly fitting. In some ways, it's unfortunate that Carlyle won't be the last man to coach Selanne in the NHL, but he did lead him to the promised land. That Carlyle would have denied Selanne this honor early in his career and then eventually coach him for several years is just another bookmark in the legend of Teemu Selanne.

Selanne’s first career goal came on October 8, 1992, against San Jose, but perhaps his most memorable came on March 2, 1993, against the Québec Nordiques (je me manque toujours du Québec). To complete his hat trick on that night, Teemu raced in from the neutral zone and tipped a puck past a charging Stephane Fiset for his 54th goal of the season. In a move that would go down as one of the most iconic celebrations of all time, Teemu tossed his glove into the air and shot it down with his stick (Artem Anisimov would do well to remember that the breaking of Mike Bossy’s rookie goal-scoring record is probably a more appropriate time for such a move). Selanne would eventually score a staggering 22 more goals that season en route to a 76-goal, 132-point season.

Just how good was that season? Not only do both the goal and point totals still stand as records for a rookie season, but Selanne’s efforts also earned him the Calder for being the league’s best overall rookie. Selanne’s 76 goals that year were best overall in the NHL (the Sabres’ Alexander Mogilny actually scored 76 times that year too) and no player has scored more than 70 since.

A Tabular Look at Selanne’s Career in Winnipeg

Season

Goals

Assists

Points

+/-

PP Goals

1992-1993

76

56

132

8

24

1993-1994

25

29

54

-23

11

1994-1995

22

26

48

1

8

1995-1996*

40

68

108

5

9

* Includes 51 games in Winnipeg and 28 in Anaheim

While Teemu’s rookie season is the stuff of legend, it was also the best one he would have during his time in the ‘Peg. Selanne suffered a torn Achilles in 1993-1994 and was limited to only 51 games (he still finished at better than a point per game). While the NHL lockout wiped out much of the 1994-1995 season, Selanne played in 45 games in the NHL that season (after leading the team he now partially owns, Jokerit, to the European Cup along with fellow Finn Jari Kurri) and finished with more than a point per game. Finally, in his last season in Winnipeg, Teemu managed 72 points in 51 games before he was sent to Anaheim.

In total, Selanne finished with an impressive 147 goals and 306 points in just 231 games for the Jets. He ended up a net -9 during his time in Winnipeg, although the -23 he recorded during the 1993-1994 season was his worst by far from a +/- perspective during his NHL career to date.

Even though he was with Winnipeg for just three-and-a-half seasons, and has gone on to score 646 goals in the regular season over his career, Selanne arguably cemented his status as one of the game’s all-time best during those 231 games with the Jets. As a Ducks fan, I can only say thank you to GM John Ferguson, Sr., who drafted him and gave him the chance to establish himself as an NHL standout. Of course, I should also thank GM John Paddock for trading Teemu to Anaheim. But that’s another story altogether.

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