With Teemu Selanne’s final regular season game coming tonight at Honda Center, a number of Ducks reflected on what Selanne has meant to them.
He’s been amazing. I’ve said this ever since I met him, that he’s a guy who comes to the rink with a smile on his face every single day. He works hard and he’s passionate about the game. I don’t think you’ll find a nicer guy in the NHL – in sports – than him. The way he is with the fans, the coaches, his teammates, everything he does is all about respect. That’s the way he carries himself.
He’s been great. “T” obviously has established himself as an elite player in this league for a long time. Anyone who has that kind of longevity, you can learn a lot from. He brings a lot to our locker room, and always has. That’s the biggest thing he’s taught me in the game, is how to enjoy it on a daily basis. I’ve told the story many times, but when we won the Cup in ’07, he said he was retiring, so I asked him for a signed stick. Then he signed one for me for the next three or four years before I finally gave up and stopped asking. I have four of them at home.
It’ll be an emotional game for everybody. We obviously have the playoffs coming up, but it’s his last regular season game and he’s done so much for this organization and hockey in general. For myself, he’s been a mentor ever since my first NHL game. I’m still kind of in awe looking over at him, knowing what he’s accomplished and the kind of guy he is. The passion he has kind of flows through our team. It’s going to be a special moment for him, but it’s a moment everyone is going to cherish, including the fans and including us. Going forward, there is no better way to send him out than going all the way.
I’ve played with a lot of very special players so far in my career. I’ve played with Getzlaf and Perry and Koivu and Crosby and Malkin. But I didn’t grow up idolizing them. When I was an 8-, 9-, 10-year-old kid, Teemu was one of the best players in the world. He was a player you grew up idolizing. To be a teammate of his now, to get to know him as a hockey player and personally, has just been so special. It’s been so much fun to play with him, but even cooler to get to know him and what he’s all about. They will be memories I’ll forever treasure.
He’s a great mentor. He plays the game so well, but he’s an even better guy in the room. It’s obviously a big blow to hockey that he’s done, but he’s given so much to the game. He’s probably the most passionate I’ve ever seen about it. I’m happy for him, and I hope Honda Center treats him well on that last night.
He was one of my biggest idols when I was growing up in Finland, and now I’ve had a chance to get to know him. He’s a big part of my career, and he’s helping me with everything. He’s even been loaning me his car. He’s such a nice guy, and we had some great times in the Olympics [for Team Finland] too. He will be missed.
What can really be said that hasn’t been said? He’s a great hockey player, and a fun guy to be around. When you’re teammates, you’re around each other a lot, and it’s a lot of fun coming to the rink when you’re teammates with someone like that. Whether it’s passing him the puck, and he’s usually putting it in the net, or having fun on the bus. I’ve been fortunate to play with a lot of great players and great people, and he’s certainly one of them.
“T” has been amazing. He’s everything everyone thinks he is. He’s a legend. The first day I was here, he came and said hi. He always talks to the young guys, always helps you in any way he can, gives you tips. He’s got tons of energy. He’s just a great guy. It’s been an absolute honor playing with him the last four or five years.
He’s meant a lot to me. Obviously since Day 1 when I came here, I’ve just noticed him in the locker room always having fun, always having a smile on his face, coming to the rink every day and just enjoying every minute. It’s been great for everybody who’s been around him.
To be lucky enough to play with “T” has been a huge honor for me. I’ve learned a lot from him, not only on the ice but off the ice too. Just the way he treats people and the respect that he has for everybody around him – staff, coaches, everybody. That’s the one thing that will stick with me, and he’s been great to me, so it’s definitely been a privilege to play alongside him.
He’s had such a successful career, and everyone appreciates everything he does. For me growing up watching him play, it’s pretty cool playing on the same line as him. He’s the biggest role model that I’ve ever had in my hockey career, and it’s been a special moment to play with him. To get the chance to play alongside him this year is pretty neat. To get to play with Teemu Selanne, I don’t think any rookie would complain about that. Even just sitting beside him on the bench … The things he does, how he takes care of himself, the way he approaches everything, his smile and his face every practice and game day is pretty cool.
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