GDB LXXIV: Selanne’s last game at RX1

Colorado Avalanche v Anaheim Ducks

The Finnish Flash will take one last skate at Rexall Place, before skating off into retirement, and he has a chance to make it a very memorable evening.

This past Sunday, Teemu Selanne became only the 18th player in NHL history to score 600 goals. He trails his childhood idol, Jari Kurri, by only one and good tie him or even surpass him in the same rink that Kurri used to rip one-timers.

When we asked Selanne about that possibility he admitted he hadn’t thought about it, “That would be really neat. I never thought I’d score as many goals as Jari Kurri. I had his and Wayne Gretzky’s poster on my wall as a kid. They were my idols.”

Selanne is lock to make the Hall of Fame and in his 15th NHL season he can still score. Selanne has a respectable 21 goals in 47 games, but the game has changed a lot since he tore up the NHL in 1992/1993. Selanne scored 76 goals as a rookie for the Winnipeg Jets, and that record will never be broken. A player would have a better chance to break Gretzky’s 92 goal season, than score 76 goals as a rookie.

Selanne has scored 147 goals as a Jet, 64 with San Jose, 16 in Colorado and 373 as a Duck. He has 21 hat-tricks, two four-goal games and he has scored in 52 different NHL arenas. He scored his first goal at the famous Cow Palace in San Jose beating Jeff Hackett. Selanne told us the story this morning like it had happened last night. Even after 600 goals, he still remembers the first one very vividly.

Funny thing is Selanne didn’t even work that hard in his rookie year according to him and his then-teammate-and-now-head-coach, Randy Carlyle. “Lots of practices I barely broke a sweat back then,” laughed Selanne. “Rest was the weapon, and I saved all my energy for the game.”

Carlyle was a 36-year-old veteran in his last season when Selanne sniped 76 goals, but he didn’t like Selanne’s laissez-faire attitude. “The one thing he does now is he works a lot harder than he did as a rookie. That is where the conflict personally between the two of us started. I was a veteran player and I didn’t appreciate a young kid coming and not working as hard as he needed to, or as hard as I thought he needed to.

“His answer to that was I wasn’t the coach and I was a player and why should I have any comments on his work ethic,” laughed Carlyle. “That wasn’t the same answer when I got the job in Anaheim. Teemu is one of the hardest workers on our team and is a great influence on everyone on the team. The rink is his happy place. He still comes to the rink with a smile on his face and that rubs off on the young guys.”

Selanne vs. Kurri

Both are Fins, and both are in the 600-goal club, so it is only natural to ask who was better. Saku Koivu put it best I think. “Teemu is the most dynamic Finnish player ever. He has the ability to make highlight plays and his first step is one of the best of all-time. Jari’s was a better all-around player. Both are legends in Finland so I don’t know if you can say one is better. But Teemu was flashier.”

Hard to argue with that comparison, and the eras they played in are different. Selanne is a better goal-scorer, (not as good of a one-timer though) but Kurri was a better overall player.

Selanne also made it clear that his 600th goal means more to him than 602, if he gets it, and surpasses Kurri. A classy player and one hell of a goal scorer.

JDD and Gagner

Jeff Deslauriers will start tonight because according to Pat Quinn, “Basically it was a 50-cent piece that decided it,” chuckled Quinn. It came down to Devan Dubnyk still not being 100% ready to go. He hasn’t eaten a lot of food and he will start in St. Louis. It sounds like the goalies will rotate the rest of the way, but Quinn wasn’t guaranteeing anything in that department.

Sam Gagner will sit out tonight due to a sore hip. It’s been bothering him for a couple of weeks, and he re-aggravated it in practice yesterday. With Gagner sitting out Patrick O’Sullivan will draw back in and play with Ryan Potulny and Robert Nilsson. Marc Pouliot will shift back to centre and play with Zach Stortini and Mike Comrie tonight.

Ryan Getzlaf will sit out tonight for the Ducks and rest his ankle. According to Carlyle, they plan on playing him Sunday.