Watching Teemu Selanne play his 1,581st and final NHL game on Friday when the Kings eliminated the Ducks in Game 7, it was hard not to relive Winnipeg’s trade that sent a player who could have been a Valley icon to Anaheim for Chad Kilger, Oleg Tverdovsky and a third-round draft pick the season before the Jets arrived in Phoenix.
The Finnish Flash was a wonder in Winnipeg, winning the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year with a league-high-tying 76 goals and 132 points in 1992-93. He averaged better than a point a game in his nearly four seasons with Winnipeg and did it seven more times with Anaheim in a career in which he amassed 684 regular-season goals and 1,457 points (with 88 more points in the playoffs).
The Coyotes have honored past Jets who never made it to Phoenix by placing their names in the Ring of Honor. Bobby Hull, Dale Hawerchuk and Thomas Steen all received that distinction. But if you were hoping for Selanne’s number to be raised to the rafters, it appears that day will never come.
Selanne played a little more than three and a half seasons for the franchise. The Ring of Honor distinction is based on number of years with both organizations and impact on and off the ice. Hull, Hawerchuk and Steen all played more than six seasons with the Jets and were franchise players.
Had Selanne made the trek to Phoenix, he undoubtedly would have earned that distinction. He clearly made an impact on the ice, and there wasn’t a more popular player off the ice than the always-available, always-approachable, community-oriented Selanne.
Still, the majority of his accomplishments were achieved in Anaheim, where he certainly will be honored.
One last time, it appears the Valley will be cheated out of some Selanne magic. And to make matters worse, the Coyotes organization never really got to say goodbye, instead having to watch the hated Kings pay tribute to a class act by staying on the ice to tap their sticks in reverence as he saluted the Ducks crowd one last time on Friday.
What are your thoughts? Do you think Selanne’s brief but remarkable stint in Winnipeg warrants special consideration for the Ring of Honor? Cast your vote in our poll to the right.