As the now-43-year-old Teemu Selanne contemplates his return to the Ducks for his 20th NHL season, we take some time to reflect on the trade that sent him to Anaheim back in 1996.
While the original Jets were in lame-duck mode (pun intended) during the 1995-96 season, team brass chose to deal Selanne to Anaheim in what would go down as one of the most shocking and unexpected trades in league history.
Not surprisingly, this didn’t sit well with Jets fans, who lost their star player just months before losing their team. The move also angered Selanne himself, as Jets owner Richard Burke had previously told the star winger that his future with the organization was safe.
“When I got traded, I didn’t really have a chance to say goodbye to the people and the city. It was the next day I am gone,” he recalled several years ago. “It’s pretty tough when you get traded. Everything is rushing and you have to be gone the next day.
“I really didn’t expect to get traded,” he continued. “I remember that phone call. It’s tough. Especially your first trade is always hard because you almost feel that you have failed. But a couple days later I realized this is going to be a great, new opportunity for myself and it has been a great road down here too.”
It’s interesting to think about how things would have unfolded had this deal never materialized. Phoenix, which has struggled considerably throughout its existence, would have had one of the most popular players in the world to market to the local populace. While the likes of Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick certainly gave ‘Yotes fans reason to come to the rink, they didn’t have the kind of marketability that Selanne possessed (and still possesses).
Had the Finnish Flash gone on to skate for the Coyotes, the team would have undoubtedly experienced more on-ice success, and could have had far better luck at the gate, as well. The two players Phoenix received in the Selanne deal, Oleg Tverdovsky and Chad Kilger, never amounted to much, and were far from adequate replacements for Teemu. They played just two and three years in the desert, respectively.