Teemu Selanne’s No. 8 was lifted to the rafters of Honda Center, becoming the first jersey number retired by the Anaheim Ducks franchise on Sunday night. The ceremony took place before Anaheim’s contest against the Winnipeg Jets, the second incarnation of the Finnish Flash's first team.
Few players in the NHL attain the level of success Selanne experienced throughout his career and even fewer experience the longevity that made him so unique.
Drafted by the original Jets franchise (now the Arizona Coyotes) in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, Selanne entered the league at the age of 22. That year, he scored 76 goals, setting a rookie record that still stands.
Selanne retired after the 2013-14 season at the age of 43. Over the course of his 21-year career, Selanne starred for Anaheim (when the franchise was known as the Mighty Ducks), and also played for the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche. He returned to Anaheim in the 2005-06 season, right before the team was sold and the name changed to simply the Ducks in 2006.
In the 2006-07 Selanne won the only Stanley Cup of his career with the Ducks. He made two World Championship appearances and participated in four Olympic Games, a tournament in which he is the all-time scoring leader with 43 points.
Before the ceremony, Selanne, ever the consummate professional, addressed the Honda Center crowd, tears welling in his eyes. “This whole journey has been unbelievable,” he said. “I am so thankful and lucky to experience all this.”
The festivities included speeches from Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli, commissioner Gary Bettman, Ducks senior vice president of hockey operations David McNab, former teammates Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jari Kurri, and both teams donning a variety of Ducks and Jets jerseys Selanne wore during his career for warm-ups.
The most indelible image of the ceremony was a shot of Selanne, with his wife and four children at center ice, entwining their arms as the ageless No. 8 sweater was raised high above their heads.
-- Katie Brown