International Ice Hockey Federation

Fond farewell for Teemu

Fond farewell for Teemu

Selanne’s jersey retired in emotional ceremony

Published 30.12.2015 19:54 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd, Martin Merk
Fond farewell for Teemu
HELSINKI, FINLAND - DECEMBER 30: Accompanied by his wife and daughter former member of the Finnish National Team, Teemu Selanne has his number 8 retired during a ceremony prior to the Slovakia vs Finland preliminary round game at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
You couldn’t have asked for a more moving way to start Wednesday’s Finland-Slovakia game at Hartwall Arena. Teemu Selanne’s #8 jersey was raised to the rafters.

Images of the six-time Olympian, the all-time leading scorer in Winter Games history (43 points), flashed on the ice as “Now We Are Free” from the Gladiator soundtrack played.

The video scoreboard showed him arriving at the arena to a hero’s welcome from fans and hockey staff alike. The legendary 45-year-old winger, who won the Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks, skated out wearing a Finnish jersey with the captain’s C. Selanne saluted the cheering crowd with his stick.  

His extended family and old colleagues, like former Winnipeg Jets and national team blueliner Teppo Numminen, also joined him on the ice.

The crowd fell respectfully quiet as Selanne reflected on his storied career with the national team, from triumphs to defeats, in a video interview.

Finnish Ice Hockey Association President and IIHF Vice President Kalervo Kummola spoke, hailing Selanne’s accomplishments over some 30 years of wearing the Finnish Lions’ jersey.

Kummola spoke of the “positive energy” that the ever-smiling Helsinki native brought to the rink. He reflected on special moments in Selanne’s career, such as when all the world’s best players came together in Nagano at the first “NHL Olympics” in 1998 and Finland got a surprising bronze. Selanne finished his career with four Olympic medals and two World Championship medals.

Called to the podium, Selanne spoke of how truly thankful he was to suit up for the national team. He thanked his “good comrades” like Saku Koivu, Jari Kurri, Raimo Helminen, Ville Peltonen, and Jere Lehtinen, who made his tasks on the ice much easier. Acknowledging his many national team coaches over the years, he gave a joking shout-out to Erkka Westerlund, who helmed the last Olympic team, for “believing in an old man and giving him a chance in Sochi.” The fans roared when he thanked them for their unflagging support.

The ceremony concluded with the “Selanne 8” banner-raising. Selanne stood with his arms wrapped around his wife Sirpa and daughter Veera on a centre-ice stage.

He is the 15th-leading scorer in NHL history (1,467 points), but he always lived up to the expectations of his small, proud country too.

It was a beautiful tribute to an historic career.

After the ceremony Selanne spoke with the media during the first intermission of the Finland-Slovakia game.

On the ceremony:
It was very special obviously. The national team has been a very important part of my life and always a happy place. To play almost 30 years with the national team… I’ve been very proud to put this jersey on every time I played. Tonight was a great honour to share this with the important people and fans.

On the number 8:
It somehow followed me. When I was a little kid and the coach gave the jerseys I got number 8. The funny thing is that the 8 has always followed me. Our first address was number 8, on my first motorcycle the licence plate was UC8. It’s weird how it worked but it has always been my favourite number.

On the prospects like Jesse Puljujarvi and Patrik Laine at the World Juniors:
I heard a lot of good things and those guys are super talented and fun to watch. I always played the game with a lot of fun and I tried to enjoy. Those guys are exactly what I enjoy. We have done a great job with the hockey in Finland and there are more and more guys coming up.

On his son Eetu being invited to the Finnish U18 national team last season:
It was a big honour for me and for him too. He always watched me when I was playing and as a nine-year-old he screamed he wanted to play for the national team too.

On the crowd in Helsinki:
The crowd was great. I have always had a great relationship with the fans and they have been supporting me so greatly over the years. There are no words for that. And that’s what I told them during the ceremony.

On Jaromir Jagr still playing:
Hats off. It’s unbelievable. He’s a perfect example of what I enjoy to watch. He has a smile on his face all the time. And he still plays hard and has passion on the ice. Barkov on his line is also great. You can say behind every successful player is a Finnish player. (laughs)


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