In June, Anaheim Ducks legends Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya were elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The two formed a scintillating duo of offensive talent with the (Mighty) Ducks in the mid-late 1990s, helping grow interest in Anaheim’s new team.
As both are now Hall-of-Famers, their careers are inevitably littered with a plethora of highlights. Kariya was the club’s longtime captain in its early years, while Selanne retired after the 2013-14 season holding the all-time franchise records for games played (966), goals (457), and points (988), accumulated over two separate stints with the team.
In this article, the focus is on Selanne, as we take a look at five of his best moments with the Ducks. Soon after, we will also dive into Kariya’s top moments.
Honorable Mention: Final Regular-Season Game
On April 13, 2014, Selanne suited up in his final regular-season game as the Ducks took on the Colorado Avalanche at the Honda Center. The game meant nothing with respect to the standings, as both teams had already clinched the top spot in their divisions. But it meant everything to Selanne, Ducks fans, and the hockey community as a whole.
The Ducks ended up rallying from a two-goal third-period deficit before ultimately winning in overtime on a goal by Nick Bonino. The fans in Anaheim honored Selanne with standing ovations during his shifts in the third period. While No. 8 was held off the scoresheet, perhaps those ovations helped buoy the home team to a comeback victory.
The most memorable moment of the night, however, came during the postgame celebration, where both teams took part in honoring the Finnish Flash. Selanne took a well-deserved victory lap after being named all three stars of the game, and he urged former teammate and then-Avalanche goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere (who would also retire after the 2013-14 season) to join him. It was a touching moment and a classy move by a player who embodied that trait for his entire career.
5. Hitting the 80-Point Mark at Age 40
In the 2010-11 season, Selanne tallied 31 goals and 49 assists for 80 points in 73 games. He scored his 80th point with a goal against the Los Angeles Kings on April 8.
Reaching the 80-point plateau is a commendable achievement in any context. What puts this moment in the top five is that Selanne did it at age 40.
How exclusive is that company? Well, prior to Selanne, only two other players had ever achieved that in NHL history: the legendary Gordie Howe with 103 points for the Detroit Red Wings at age 40 in 1968-69, and the Boston Bruins’ Johnny Bucyk with 83 points at that age in 1975-76. That’s it.
This achievement might not have tugged at the heartstrings like Selanne’s final regular-season game, but its significance in the context of NHL history, along with its representation of the longevity of Selanne’s brilliance, pushes it onto the list.
4. Goal No. 600
Another of Selanne’s career highlights came against the Avalanche, coincidentally one of his former teams. On March 21, 2010, the right winger potted his 600th career goal, becoming the 18th player at the time to ever reach that milestone. (Jarome Iginla would later become the 19th member of the list in 2016.)
After a bit of a scramble around the front of the cage, Scott Niedermayer got to the puck and had an open net right in front. Knowing that Selanne was sitting on 599 goals, Niedermayer, rather than shooting it, slid it over to a waiting Selanne at the door step on the left side for an easy tap-in.
The entire Ducks bench joined the on-ice celebration, speaking to not only the significance of the accomplishment but also to how much respect they had for their teammate.
Selanne would finish his illustrious career with 684 goals—good for 11th all-time.
3. Number Retirement
The Ducks first acquired Selanne from the Winnipeg Jets in 1996, along with Marc Chouinard and a fourth-round draft pick, in exchange for Chad Kilger, Oleg Tverdovsky, and a third-round draft pick. Selanne, with Kariya, put up incredible individual numbers with the Mighty Ducks during that period from 1996 to 2001, breaking 50 goals and 100 points twice each.
Despite those accomplishments and the exciting brand of hockey he and Kariya brought to Anaheim that helped build the franchise’s fanbase, the team did not experience much collective success, only reaching the playoffs twice over that span and only winning one series (the 1996-97 Western quarterfinals against the Phoenix Coyotes—Selanne’s old team after they relocated from Winnipeg). The floundering Mighty Ducks traded Selanne to the San Jose Sharks in 2001, but they brought him back as a free agent as the NHL resumed in 2005 after the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season.
It was in that second tenure that Selanne not only filled the scoresheet, but the Ducks also experienced much more team success. Because of his individual accomplishments, the team’s accomplishments with him, his role in bringing fans aboard in the franchise’s early days, and what he meant to the Anaheim community, retiring his number was a no-brainer.
On Jan. 11, 2015, the Ducks did just that, fittingly before a game against the Jets, with whom he scored a rookie-record 76 goals and 132 points in 1992-93.
During the ceremony, Selanne impressed yet again, this time by keeping his emotions in check, though he admitted it was no easy task.
“Actually the toughest part of keeping the emotions was when I was walking down the stairs,” Selanne said, referring to his entrance down through the stands. “The whole thing just hit so hard plus I have to concentrate so I don’t fall down those. What a night. It’s very special.
“I don’t remember the last time I was this nervous,” Selanne later said. “I didn’t know what to expect. It was really special. The whole package was perfect.”
Numerous former teammates were on hand for the ceremony, along with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and team owner Henry Samueli.
“We salute you, we thank you, we love you,” Samueli said. “You are permanently ingrained in the soul of the Anaheim Ducks franchise.”
Selanne is still the only Anaheim player to have received the honor of having his number retired, underscoring his significance to the franchise and to the game as a whole.
2. 2007 Western Conference Final: Game 5 OT Goal Versus Red Wings
The Ducks won what stands as the franchise’s only Stanley Cup championship in 2007. During that playoff run, Selanne scored what is arguably the most significant goal in the team’s history.
With their Western Conference Final series against the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings tied at two games apiece, the Ducks faced a tough task in looking to take Game 5 at Joe Louis Arena. The game would go to overtime tied 1-1 after Scott Niedermayer tied it for the Ducks with less than a minute left in the third period.
In the sudden-death period, Anaheim forward Andy McDonald pressured Detroit defenseman Andreas Lilja, forcing a turnover in the Detroit zone. Selanne picked up the loose puck and deked to his backhand before roofing a shot over sprawling goaltender Dominik Hasek.
The win put the Ducks in position to close out the series on home ice in Game 6 and advance to the Stanley Cup Final, which they did with a 4-3 victory. They would then go on to defeat the Ottawa Senators in five games in the Final, which brings us to the No. 1 moment.
1. 2007 Stanley Cup Victory
Any NHL player will tell you that winning the Stanley Cup is the ultimate dream. It’s a team accomplishment, but (or therefore), it’s more special than any individual accolade. Selanne and the Ducks reached that pinnacle in 2007 after defeating the Senators in a five-game Stanley Cup Final.
While Niedermayer took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, Selanne was, as detailed, instrumental in the Ducks’ dispatching of the Red Wings in the Western Conference Final. Selanne contributed 15 points in all over 21 postseason games.
Although it’s unfair, the sports world loves to judge individual players based on championships won, even though it’s a team achievement. The Ducks’ ascension to the top of the hockey world in 2007 was no different. Nevertheless, Selanne played a critical role, and as a result of the victory, his legacy with the Ducks and for his whole career can endure without there ever being the silly question of why and how he didn’t “win the big one.”
The Stanley Cup win might not have placed the spotlight squarely on the Finnish Flash, but the Ducks’ best-ever player will forever be attached to their first (and so far only) championship, thus vaulting this moment to the top of the list.
Stay tuned for a look at Paul Kariya’s top moments with the Ducks, coming soon.