If anyone from the Anaheim Ducks, past or present, ever deserved his own night, it’s Teemu Selanne.
On Jan. 11, the team will host ‘Teemu Tribute Night’ against his former club, the Winnipeg Jets, and Selanne’s No. 8 jersey will be hung from the Honda Center rafters.
The Finnish Flash will be the first Duck to receive the honor.
"Teemu is our franchise icon and deserves to be the first player in club history to have his jersey retired," said Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli in a statement on Friday. "His dedication to this franchise and our community is unmatched. We eagerly anticipate Jan. 11, when we pay tribute to a world-class player, ambassador and champion, our own Teemu Selanne."
"What a great honor," said Selanne, who had two stints with the DUcks and helped them win their only Stanley Cup in 2007. "The Samuelis and the entire Ducks organization have made this a very special place for me and my family. I look forward to sharing this special night with our fans, who have treated me so well for 18 years."
By the end of his Anaheim career in 2013-14, Selanne was the all-time leader in goals (457), assists (531 and points (988). He’s also the club leader in playoff goals (35), power-play goals (15), game-winning goals (8) and games (96).
He was drafted by the Jets with the 10th overall pick in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft and played nearly three and a half seasons with the club. In his first season, Selanne scored 76 goals, an NHL rookie record. He was traded to the Ducks in 1996.
Selanne’s exit from the NHL at the conclusion of this past season was celebrated throughout the league. First, when he skated a lap at the Honda Center with former franchise icon Jean-Sebastien Giguere in his final regular season game in Anaheim. In another chill-inducing moment, after the Ducks fell to their rival Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Semifinals, he stayed out on the ice for nearly 20 minutes. He skated one final lap, this time solo and the victorious Kings gave him a stick tap to send him out.
It was a moment that no one wanted to end, much like his career. Selanne finished his career as the Ducks’ all-time leader in nearly every offensive category. The right winger played two stints in Orange County, helping lead the Ducks to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2007.
He was a vivacious character around town. Back when the team was owned by Disney, Selanne was rumored to have used his Disneyland season pass upwards of 20 times and took a handful of pictures with Mickey Mouse as well.
Even at 43, the oldest player in the NHL the last two seasons, he remained productive. He was named the MVP at the Sochi Olympics and had six points in 12 postseason games this year.
No one wanted him to stop playing — players or fans — and the phrase "Teemu Forever" was trending until the Ducks were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.