By Darren Eliot
March 22, 2010

Teemu Selanne has many great attributes and his sense of timing is just one. On Sunday, Selanne became the 18th player in NHL history to score 600 goals. That's a lot of goals. That's a lot of history. And he did it at home.

Now, that might not seem like a big thing, but it was to Selanne. In his postgame interview, he admitted that he was "getting worried" that the milestone goal wouldn't come. He'd had a tough time scoring during his past couple of games. In fact, after a six-game homestand yielded but a single marker, he felt an urgency to reach 600 before heading out on a three-game road trip. Not that he wouldn't score again, but to get the big one on home ice was important to him. There is a mutual kinship between Selanne and the Ducks' Southern California fans.

Those fans were there to see him score like he has so many times for them and he delivered, setting off delirium in the arena as his teammates rushed off the bench to Selanne's trademark broad, engaging smile. Yes, he began as a Jet in Winnipeg and he left Anaheim for a few years to moonlight as a Shark and Avalanche impostor, but Selanne is the mightiest of Ducks ... ever. He belongs to them and he willingly gives as their true superstar for the ages.

Even in a year of broken bones -- Selanne has been felled twice by debilitating injury -- he made magic in the moment one more time with his 21st goal in 45 outings at the age of 39. He proved once again that he has that rare 'it' quality. Slowed by injuries, he again reached the 20-goal plateau -- the fifteenth time in his 17 seasons that he has done so.. Along the way he has tallied 40 or more six times and this season he became the leading scorer in Olympic history while winning the bronze medal in his fifth Olympiad with Team Finland.

Those kinds of accomplishments obviously define his Hall-of-Fame resume. Yet, Selanne on paper limits Selanne the performer. Always engaging while being prolific puts him in select company. He competes, excels and has always done it with discernable joy. That joie de vie is infectious, thus Selanne is an easy fan favorite. Even the brash rookie shooting his glove out of the air with his hockey stick seemed more fun than showboat as he was registering a ridiculous 76 goals on his way to the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year in 1993.

In the larger context, Selanne's moments have always seemed shared, including hoisting the Stanley Cup in Anaheim in 2007. He has appeared to be acknowledging while being acknowledged. With so many accomplishments to applaud, I'm sure fans all over the world have their own "Selanne moment." I have two.

The first came when I went to work for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the fall of 1997. My first day with the organization was the team golf outing. Afterwards, there was a sports memorabilia auction and I was bidding on an autographed Detroit Red Wings jersey, signed by the entire 1997 Stanley Cup team. I was moving to Anaheim from the Detroit area and I thought this was the perfect gift for a good friend of mine. As the price escalated to the "I'm getting uncomfortable here" range, it was down to me and one other bidder...Teemu Selanne. He glanced across the room, looked at this stranger -- me -- shrugged and smiled and lowered his arm.

Afterwards, I introduced myself and explained that the jersey was for a buddy and he just laughed, saying, "No problem. I'll get one later on." So easy. So cool, assuaging the misgivings I had in possibly rubbing one of the team's stars the wrong way on Day One on the job.

That same year, Selanne put together a stretch of single-minded sensational play that stands as one of the greatest feats I've ever witnessed. He scored in 11-straight games, netting 17 in all, single-handedly trying to overcome the absence of co-star Paul Kariya, who was missing due to a contract dispute. Talk about a player prevailing virtually alone. Selanne's totals were 17-2-19 in those games and not because he was hogging the puck. No offense to the rest of the guys on that team, but they defined the term 'supporting cast." Selanne was the singular star.

Still is, in Anaheim and the world over.

You May Like