Finnish hockey player
Known as the Finnish Flash, right wing sharp shooter Teemu Selanne set a record by scoring seventy-six goals in his rookie season. Selanne began his career with the Winnipeg Jets (who later moved to Phoenix and became the Coyotes), before being traded to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, and later the San Jose Sharks. During his time in Anaheim, Selanne often played on a line with another gifted scorer, Paul Kariya , and the pair produced much of the team's offense. Selanne is also known for his good natured personality.
Selanne was born on July 3, 1970, in Helsinki, Finland, with a twin brother Paavo, who played goal at one time. While Selanne was recognized as a great hockey talent in Finland in his youth—a player who scored on nearly every shot—the sport was not his only interest. He once played on the Finnish junior national soccer team. He also loved to race cars, and would race in Finland in off-road rallies and other races, during the NHL off season. Hockey, however, was his focus. By 1986, he was recognized as one of the best players in Finland.
Drafted by Winnipeg
Selanne's skills attracted the attention of the NHL. In 1988, he was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets as the tenth pick in the first round. However, the team had to wait for him. Selanne had to complete his required eleven-month commitment to the Finnish Army. There, he learned marksmanship and enjoyed the experience.
After finishing up his stint in the army, Selanne played for Jokerit, a club team in Helsinki. He also had another job. While playing for the team at night, he taught kindergarten during the day. Kids were also a focus in another way. Selanne went to a children's hospital for an event when he was eighteen years old, and moved by the experience, he founded the Godfathers Foundation, which raised money for sick kids. During this time period, when Selanne was nineteen, he broke his leg. During the year-long recovery period, he was worried about his future in the NHL.
Joined the NHL
Selanne recovered fully from the injury, and played on the Finnish national team at the 1992 Olympics. By this time, he was a national figure in Finland. In the fall, Selanne finally joined his NHL team, the Winnipeg Jets. He had an outstanding rookie season in 1992-93. He scored seventy-six goals and fifty-six assists for 132 points; the goals alone were a record. For this effort, he was named Rookie of the Year. While Selanne never matched these numbers again through the 2002 season, his reputation as a sniper was cemented.
During the 1993-94 season, Selanne suffered from a serious injury, a severed Achilles tendon, from which he eventually recovered. Despite injuries, Selanne still managed an average of one goal every two games. To keep their scorer, Winnipeg signed him to a five-year deal in 1995 worth $14 million.
Traded to the Ducks
During the 1996 off-season, the Jets decided to trade Selanne to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for Chad Kilger and Oleg Tverdovsky. He played on a line with Kariya, which gave both of them many goals. The pair played well together. In fact, it was Kariya who had met him at the 1996 All-Star game they both played and encouraged the Duck's general manager Jack Ferreira that Selanne was a good player and might have the right personality for their team.
Of Selanne's personality and game, Johnette Howard of Sports Illustrated wrote "If Selanne's wit doesn't charm someone first, his unebbing enthusiasm, his slack-jawed smile or wide-eyed look of wonder probably will. His game has all the bells and whistles.… He has blazing speed and the power to shrug off defenders; he's a natural scorer and can shrewdly read a game."
During his first season with the Ducks, Selanne scored fifty-one goals and helped lead the Ducks to their first playoff berth in 1997. The following season, Selanne again scored over fifty goals. He carried the team through much of the season, though it was in last place. Kariya was out much of the season due to injury and a contract dispute. Selanne also represented his country at the 1998 Winter Olympics, winning a bronze as a member of the Finnish hockey team.
For his effort, Selanne received a contract extension of two years, $19.5 million, taking him through the end of the 2002 season. The pressure of a new deal did not hamper or change Selanne's scoring abilities. In 1999, he won the NHL's goal-scoring title, scoring a league-leading forty-seven goals.
Traded to San Jose
Though Selanne and Kariya had chemistry, the Ducks were a struggling franchise in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They only went to the playoffs twice, and rumors were rampant that the team's parent company, Disney, might sell them. Though Selanne's salary was costly, it was less than Kariya's, and he had value on the trade market. Selanne had scored more goals than anyone since coming into the NHL.
|1970||Born July 3 in Helsinki, Finland|
|1988||Drafted by Winnipeg Jets in the first round|
|c. 1988-89||Serves in the Finnish Army|
|1989-92||Plays for Jokerit (Finnish team); also teaches kindergarten|
|1992||Plays for the Finnish national team in the Olympics; begins playing for the Winnipeg Jets (NHL)|
|1995||Signs five-year deal worth $14 million with Winnipeg|
|1996||Marries Sirpa Vuorinen on July 19; traded to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on February 7|
|1997||Plays in the post-season with the Mighty Ducks (first time the team played in playoffs)|
|1998||Plays for Finland at the Winter Olympics, winning bronze medal|
|2001||Traded to the San Jose Sharks on March 5|
|2002||Signs a one-year deal with Sharks worth $6.5 million ($3 million less than he had made the previous season); plays for Finland at the Winter Olympics|
Awards and Accomplishments
|1992-93||Set rookie record by scoring 76 goals in a season for the Winnipeg Jets|
|1993||Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year|
|1998||MVP of the All-Star game; played for Finland at the Winter Olympics, winning bronze medal|
|1999||Maurice "The Rocket" Richard Trophy for most goals scored in the season|
In March 2001, Selanne was traded from the Ducks to the San Jose Sharks for goalie Steve Shields, Jeff Friesen, and a conditional draft pick. His first months in San Jose were not great. Soon after the trade, he had to have arthoscopic knee surgery to remove loose cartilage. San Jose was already headed for the playoffs, but when Selanne returned for the post-season, he was playing with a broken right thumb, which limited his scoring abilities. The Sharks were eliminated from the playoffs, but Selanne was finally playing with a winning organization.
In 2001-02, Selanne still struggled, only scoring three goals in his first sixteen games of the year, and twenty-nine goals for the season. While twenty-nine goals was the most on the Sharks, Selanne had fewer minutes per game than in Anaheim and was often frustrated. The Sharks did improve, making the post-season, before losing to the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference semi-finals. In 2002, Selanne also got to play for Team Finland at the Winter Olympics.
Though Selanne was an unrestricted free agent in July 2002, he signed a one-year deal with the Sharks worth $6.5 million, three million less than he made the previous year. While Selanne could have signed a bigger, long-term deal somewhere else, he still believed he had the scoring touch the team needed to win the Stanley Cup.
|Ducks: Anaheim Mighty Ducks (NHL); Jets: Winnipeg Jets (NHL); Sharks: San Jose Sharks (NHL).|
Chi, Victor. "Frustration Grows for Sharks' Selanne." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (November 11, 2001): D17.
Habib, Daniel G. et al. "2 San Jose Sharks." Sports Illustrated (October 14, 2002): 86.
Howard, Johnette. "Top dog." Sports Illustrated (January 27, 1997): 52.
Hurd, Rick. "Selanne Isn't in Hurry to Re-sign." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (September 23, 2001): D13.
Johnson, George. "It's time the Ducks shopped Selanne." Calgary Herald (February 20, 2001): D1.
Kennedy, Kostya. "Unugly Duck." Sports Illustrated (April 20, 1998): 36.
McKeon, Ross. "No trade secret to say Selanne isn't going anywhere." San Francisco Chronicle (February 12, 2002): C3.
McKeon, Ross. "San Jose's Offense Wakes Up." San Francisco Chronicle (March 20, 2001): E1.
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McKeon, Ross. "Teemu's thumb could cost Sharks." San Francisco Chronicle (April 21, 2001): E1.
Ratto, Ray. "Only sniping with Selanne is coming from his stick." San Francisco Chronicle (May 12, 2002): B1.
Ratto, Ray. "Selanne forever stuck with an empty feeling." San Francisco Chronicle (May 16, 2002): C1.
Scher, Jon. "Teemu Selanne." Sports Illustrated (March 29, 1993): 36.
"Selanne, Newest Shark, Faces Knee Surgery." Dayton Daily News (March 7, 2001).
"Selanne Staying with San Jose." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (July 6, 2002): C8.
"Selanne to skate with Sharks on Friday." Associated Press (March 15, 2001).
Stevens, Neil. "Selanne swept away by trade winds." Calgary Herald (March 6, 2001): C1.
Turula, Marius. "Selanne, Koivu lead Finns for Olympics." Associated Press (March 23, 2001).
Wigge, Larry. "Not just a shot in the dark." Sporting News (January 8, 2001): 44.
Woodburn, Graig. "Ducks send Selanne to San Jose." Press-Enterprise (March 6, 2001): C1.
Woodburn, Graig. "Selanne's stick change helps snap goal slump." Press-Enterprise (January 9, 2001): C3.
"Roy Wilson is Sharks New Coach." San Jose Sharks Web Site. http://www.sjsharks.com/sharks/news/20021204-1039036671.htm (December 16, 2002).
"Teemu Selanne," ESPN.com. http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/players/statistics?statsId=500 (December 14, 2002).
Sketch by A. Petruso