Teemu Selanne claimed on a conference call with reporters earlier this week that he wasn’t going to cry during his jersey retirement ceremony. “Tough guys don’t cry,” he joked.
Selanne accomplished that, working his way through his 13-minute speech without allowing a tear to flow down his face. He came close, though, welling up while thanking his teammates from over the years, but kept it together while watching his no. 8 retired by the Anaheim Ducks Sunday night.
The immortal Selanne became the first Anaheim (Mighty) Duck to have his number raised to the Honda Center rafters after he ended his 21-year NHL career last season.
Selanne played 966 games with the Ducks, scoring 457 of his 684 career goals with the team and helped the franchise win its first Stanley Cup in 2007. He also won the inaugural Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 1999, as well as the 2006 Bill Masterton Trophy with Anaheim.
There were plenty of speeches before Selanne took the mic, including words from Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Jari Kurri and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who responded to the not-so-friendly welcome from Ducks fans with, “I would get booed to be with Teemu anytime.”
In a touching gesture, there was one empty chair on the ice, surrounded by the special guests and trophies Selanne won during his career. That was reserved for Don Baizley, his late agent who passed away from lung cancer in 2013.
“He was like a North American dad,” Selanne said. “All the help I got from Don, I’m never going to forget.”
Selanne spoke proudly of his time with the Ducks and noted that their Cup conquest eight years ago was made all the more special because they won it in Anaheim in front of the home fans.
Going back to that conference call earlier this week, Selanne pointed out that this achievement checks off half of the “biggest honors for a hockey player” list.
“One is if your jersey gets retired, and if you get to the Hockey Hall of Fame,” he said. “The last one, I don’t know yet, but I’ll enjoy this moment.”
Don’t worry, Teemu. Toronto will be calling in 2017.
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