Selanne, Penguins kindred spirits
By Josh Yohe
Published: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, 10:54 p.m.
Teemu Selanne played in Pittsburgh for only the 12th time on Monday when his Ducks took on the Penguins.
But in some ways, Selanne and the Penguins have always been on the same team.
The Penguins have long promoted star power and the skilled, offensive facets of hockey in a league that is growing increasingly defensive.
From afar, Selanne has noticed.
“I respect the Penguins and what they do so much,” said Selanne, playing his 22nd NHL season, 15 of them in Anaheim.
“The Penguins have always done things the right way, and have always played the game the right way. Beautiful hockey.”
Selanne entered the NHL in 1992 and produced one of the great rookie seasons in the history of professional sports, registering 76 goals with the Winnipeg Jets.
During that season, Mario Lemieux authored one of his virtuoso seasons — despite missing two months because of cancer treatments, he recorded 160 points in 60 games — in what was a different time.
NHL games averaged 7.25 goals per contest that season. Now, games barely average five goals, and Selanne misses those days. He has long appreciated the Penguins' desire to win championships with an offensive-lead attack.
“Very much so,” he said. “I have always loved watching the Penguins play and watching the way they do things. In my time, in fact, they've always had the best players in the league. They've always had great players. It's really too bad we don't get to play against them more often.”
Selanne only played against Lemieux a handful of times, but cherishes those memories.
His Winnipeg Jets lost at the Civic Arena in 1992 when Selanne and Lemieux – and another hockey great, Jaromir Jagr – shared the ice for the first time. Selanne and Lemieux each scored that night.
“I was almost a fan watching him that night,” Selanne said.
“It was fun. It was an honor playing against him.”
Now, it's an honor for other NHL players to take on Selanne, who entered Monday's game with 678 career goals.
His countryman, Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta, wasn't born when Selanne introduced himself to the NHL in style.
But playing against the Finnish legend will be quite a thrill.
“Everybody grew up in Finland admiring him,” Maatta said. “He's one of our most famous people ever. It's cool for me.”
Playing against Selanne, it seems, is cool for everyone.
“Maybe you're not in as much awe playing him as when you're younger,” Crosby said.
“But I definitely have a lot of respect for what he's done and what he continues to do.”
At 43, Selanne has hinted that this will be his final season.
Barring a meeting in the Stanley Cup Final between the Penguins and Ducks, this likely is his final trip to Consol Energy Center.
“It's getting harder and harder for me to play in this league,” Selanne said. “The recovery time is longer. But I still love the game, still have a passion for the game.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter@JoshYohe_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Five years later, Crosby wants another Cup win
- Penguins’ Malkin expects to play in Game 1
- Penguins coach Bylsma’s system will be put to test in Stanley Cup playoffs
- Blue Jackets confident as they wade into postseason
- Penguins Insider: Depth might be better fit for Stanley Cup playoffs
- Penguins notebook: Vokoun remains behind Zatkoff on goalie depth chart
- Breaking down Penguins’ deep defense prospect pipeline
- Blue Jackets resemble Penguins, their 1st-round playoff foe
- Penguins to rely on new guys during playoff run
- Kovacevic: Take a second to celebrate Sid
- Penguins notebook: Crosby rested, but clinches scoring title