The Anaheim Ducks faced off against the Los Angeles Kings Friday night at the Honda Center hoping to book a trip to the Western Conference Finals, but Anaheim could not help Teemu Selanne extend his final season as the Kings ended Selanne’s career in a one-sided Game Seven loss. Anaheim, having taken the Kings to the brink of elimination just days ago, could not seal the deal on home ice. While their ugly exhibition belied the explosive performances that typified Selanne’s career, it will likely be little consolation for such a disappointing end to the Ducks season.
Selanne broke into the NHL in the 1992-93 season with the Winnipeg Jets, earning the nickname “The Finnish Flash” as he scored 76 goals en route to a 132 point rookie season, both records which still stand today. His point total immediately dropped off, unable to maintain the sort of frenetic pace that seems reserved for the Wayne Gretzky chapter of hockey history. But signing with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the 1995-96 season seemed to regenerate his career, as he scored over 50 goals in 1996-97 and 1997-98, followed by a 47 goal season in 1998-99. In all, Selanne finished his career with 1,457 points in 1451 games in the NHL and is undoubtedly making a quick entrance into the NHL Hall of Fame.
Despite finishing his playing career with the Anaheim Ducks in a tragic loss, Teemu Selanne remains a fan favourite in Winnipeg and is certainly one of the best to ever play in that city. In Anaheim, where he spent the majority of his career, he will have his jersey number eight retired, the first player in the franchise to earn that honour. He is also a national hero in his native Finland, and has scored more goals in the NHL than any of the other Finnish greats, including Gretzky’s teammate Jari Kurri and one-time fellow Duck Saku Koivu. His illustrious international career saw him score more points in the Olympic Games than any other player, though he was unable to steer Finland to Olympic gold, instead earning three bronze medals and a silver.
:The Finnish Flash” will no doubt take time to nurse the wounds of his playoff exit, and the rest of the Ducks will be wondering why they collectively decided to leave their heads and hearts at home for the biggest game of the season. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry simply did not perform, while constant defensive breakdowns allowed the Kings to run rampant throughout the game, chasing Ducks rookie goalie John Gibson from the net just 2 minutes into the second period after four unanswered goals. After adding a fifth, Anaheim rallied to net a pair, but it was too little too late and the Kings’ sixth goal was the nail in the coffin
The loss not only ended the career of Anaheim Ducks great Teemu Selanne, but also saw cross-town rivals LA Kings head off to the United Center in Chicago for the Western Conference finals. The winner of that series will take on the Eastern Conference champs, either the Montreal Canadiens or the New York Rangers for the Stanley Cup.
Commentary by Bryan A. Jones