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Teemu Week: Selanne's Record Rookie Season

For the entire coming week, Anaheim Calling will pay tribute to the career of Teemu Selanne, the legend whose number will be lifted to the rafters on Sunday, January 11th. Today, we start with his unbelievable rookie season in Winnipeg.

Phil Snell

We hear the phrase "something special" thrown around about kids in pretty much every draft now days, particularly through the first few picks. While there's no doubt the youngsters entering the league now days have a truly tremendous level of talent, there are very rare instances where they come into the league and are immediately impact players who can command the ice. Perhaps even more so in the modern era.

Teemu Selanne was one of them, however.

Selanne's professional career actually began in 1988 when he was drafted 10th overall by the Winnipeg Jets after several stellar seasons with the Jokerit junior squad. Winnipeg allowed Selanne to develop in his native country, and later that year took off in his first season with the senior team, scoring 69 points in 35 games.

It wasn't until 1991 that Selanne was brought over to North America, and not without some drama. Selanne was technically a restricted free agent at the time, and was actually signed to an offer sheet by the Calgary Flames, which Winnipeg chose to match.

And for darn good reason.

Selanne made his NHL debut with the Jets on October 6, 1992, notching his first two NHL points in the process, both assists. His first goal came just one game later against the San Jose Sharks.

Three points through his first two games? Not too bad for a kid fresh over from Finland, right?

Well if you were still doubting him at the time, Teemu really made headlines just three games later, scoring his first career NHL hat trick. That stretch saw him score 11 goals through his first 12 NHL contests.

Yeah, "something special" indeed.

And he didn't stop there... or really even slow down for that matter.

Selanne had 16 multi-goal games, including four hatties and a four-goal game in that first season, as record after record gave way.

It took until early March for him to break the first major rookie record, scoring his 53rd of the season to pass Mike Bossy for that all-time record. And later in the month he also passed Peter Stastny for rookie points, notching his 110th.

And the season didn't even end there. A torrid final few weeks saw Teemu's totals leap to 76 goals and 132 points, far and away the most in the league amongst rookies in both categories.

His 76 goals tied him for the league lead that year and that 132 points was good enough to place him fifth in the league (gee, the game has changed a bit hasn't it?).

To this day both of these marks still stand in the NHL record books, and to be perfectly honest, I don't believe they will ever fall with the game being played the way it is today.

That season saw Selanne awarded the Calder trophy for the league's Rookie of the Year, and garnered him First All-Star- Team honors, and his first of many appearances at the NHL's annual All-Star Game.

Selanne never managed to pass either of those marks again in his career; his closest effort was a 51-goal, 109 point effort in his first full season with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

And the rest of Selanne's career went on to become pretty special itself, seeing him finish sixth on the league's all-time points list, and becoming the highest-scoring Finnish-born player in league history as well as a Stanley Cup Champion in the process.

But for those in Winnipeg and other hockey fans from around the league who were there to witness and remember that first season for the man who became known as "The Finnish Flash," that rookie campaign will always be looked back up on as the stuff of legends.

Truly "something special."