On this date, Feb. 28, 1993, the Winnipeg Jets Teemu Selanne scored four goals in a 7-6 win over the Minnesota North Stars to become just the third rookie in NHL history to score 50 goals. He would finish the season with 76!
In honour of not only that accomplishment and his incredible 1992-93 rookie season but also everything he brought to Jets fans and the City of Winnipeg, we wanted to share this great piece from the THW Archives.
Written by former THW contributor Jeremy Wiebe and originally published on Jan. 14, 2015.
Mention the name Teemu Selanne to any Winnipeg citizen over the age of 30 and surely, a smile will cross their face. That smile will mean many things. Memories of days gone by when a young, charismatic Finn took this city along for the ride of its life. No player, no politician, no musician, no actor has before or since, owned Winnipeg like the Finnish Flash did in the early 1990s.
After being drafted in the first round of the 1988 draft, Selanne spent three seasons with Jokerit of the Finnish 1 Division, as well as serving a mandatory stint with the Finnish army. When Selanne arrived in Winnipeg in the fall of 1992, it wasn’t the warmest reception.
Selanne had yet to sign a contract with the Jets, thus making him a restricted free agent. The Calgary Flames signed Selanne to a three-year offer sheet worth $2.7 million, which was $1.5 million more than the Jets were offering. The Jets were upset but matched the Flames offer.
Selanne knew he had to prove his worth to the organization and the fans. He did more than that.
Year To Remember
The 1992-93 season will be cherished in the Manitoba capital. Selanne lit up scoreboards throughout the NHL in particular, the Winnipeg Arena. As the goals and assists piled up, fans began their love affair with The Finnish Flash.
After a four-goal performance against the Minnesota North Stars on February 28, Selanne was sitting at 51 goals for the season, two short of Mike Bossy’s record of goals in a rookie season. He wasted no time in shattering it.
March 2, 1993 against the Quebec Nordiques is a night no Jets fan will forget. Selanne lit up the Winnipeg night, recording a hat-trick to usurp Bossy in the record books. The celebration was even better as Selanne threw his glove in the air, and shot it down with pinpoint accuracy.
Selanne finished the season with 76 goals and 56 assists for 132 points. But it wasn’t just his on-ice achievements that made him so beloved.
Man of the People
Selanne became very active in the community. Whether it be through his charitable work or playing road hockey with the neighbourhood kids on Campbell Street, Selanne became engrained within the fabric of Winnipeg.
Throwback Thursday: in honour of his # being retired, Teemu Selanne circa '93 lending a hand at Children's Hospital. http://t.co/WEuhkmz6eh
— HSC Winnipeg (@hsc_winnipeg) January 8, 2015
In an interview with Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press, Selanne talked about his time in Winnipeg:
I was so lucky that I started my NHL career there. The way people treated me there, it was just incredible. I always remember the licence plates had ‘Friendly Manitoba.’ And there’s a reason for that. The people are just outstanding there. The way they make me feel there, I’m so thankful. All the support over the years has just been incredible so I want to thank all of them. It has been very special.
Selanne was traded to the Anaheim Ducks in 1996 for Oleg Tverdovsky and Chad Kilger. It was a move that broke the hearts of Jets fans. Selanne, himself was shocked when the deal was announced. What did Selanne think of the deal?
I remember that day. I was so mad, so disappointed. I didn’t want to leave. I was happy there.
While Selanne shone in Southern California, his heart still had a place in Winnipeg. Even when the Jets flew off to the desert to become the Phoenix Coyotes, (now Arizona Coyotes) Selanne never forgot where his NHL roots were.
Teemu Selanne on fans from Winnipeg coming for his celebration: "It means a lot. Winnipeg is a big part of this." #NHLJets
— Ted Wyman (@Ted_Wyman) January 8, 2015
When the Winnipeg Arena turned off the lights for the last time in 2004, Selanne returned for the closing ceremonies and received a thunderous ovation.
The love affair didn’t end when the Jets 2.0 appeared on the scene. Selanne returned with the Ducks in 2011 and the ovation he got shook the rafters of the MTS Centre.
When Selanne’s number 8 was being retired in Anaheim, hundreds of Winnipeg flew down to witness the ceremony in person.
It was fitting that Jet fans made the trip to Orange County to pay tribute to someone who always remembered his time in Winnipeg.
Winnipeg isn’t the most glamorous city in the world. It doesn’t have the mojo of New York City or the flash and flair of Los Angeles. It is a blue-collar, working class town that takes pride in any accomplishments. Selanne fit right in with his engaging personality and boyish charm that warmed even the coldest winter day.
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