How much interest do the Winnipeg Jets have in signing Teemu Selanne?

Marianne Helm

“In front is the biggest decision of my career. I have three options that I can choose from.” – Teemu Selanne

explanation hereTeemu! Teemu! Teemu! December 17th 2011. It had been almost 16 years and Teemu Selanne was about to make his grand return to the city where it all began; to a city he once called home; to a city that loved and adored him as a member of the Winnipeg Jets. The MTS Centre was beyond electric and whether you were in the building to see it all unfold live, or watching on a TV, you could see it; you could feel it. Jets' fans belted the Finnish Flash with standing ovations like no other, they cheered his name each and every time he touched the puck (while booing his teammates), and when he tallied an assist on Anaheim’s third (and final) goal of the night, the masses stood and cheered. Goaltender Chris Mason stated it was so loud at ice-level that it was pointless to try and communicate with his defencemen, as he could barely hear himself talking.

Jets' fans are well known across the NHL for giving opposing teams and players a rough ride. It's no easy task playing in Winnipeg at the MTS Centre, but on that December night, it didn’t matter that Teemu Selanne was wearing an Anaheim Ducks logo on his chest. All that mattered was that the prodigal son had returned to the Jets' faithful; Teemu was ‘home’.

After losing the game 5-3, he tossed sticks into the crowd and skated around the MTS Centre ice, applauding the Winnipeg fans . The emotion was evident, the memories remained. They always will.

"Winnipeg called my agent and asked if they could even make an offer, but I told Don Baizley, my agent, earlier that the biggest question for me (then) was if I can play, not where I can play." -Teemu Selanne

Many Jets fans built hope during the 2011-12 season that come the trade deadline the Anaheim Ducks would be out of the playoff race, the Jets comfortably in the playoffs, and maybe, just maybe, Teemu Selanne would make a final trip back to where it all began. A storybook ending? You could say so. A dream come true for Jets' fans? You can take that to the bank. Perhaps too good to be true? Probably. Hey, we got our team back, we could believe in anything, we still can. That feeling (of the Jets' returning) is indescribable, and the only thing in professional sports as an NHL fan to possibly top that, is seeing the Winnipeg Jets hoist the Stanley Cup. But you have to think a return of Teemu Selanne to Winnipeg would be right up there, perhaps even topping the charts in it’s own, illustrious way. That is how much this player means to Winnipeg, to the Jets (name, history), and the fans.

Of course, what Jets fans had hoped for that season didn’t happen, regardless of whether it was at all ever possible or just a far-fetched pipe dream. The Jets were not in a secure playoff position at the NHL trade deadline and it’s safe to say as the 2012 offseason arrived and departed with Teemu re-signing once again in Anaheim, that that is where he would be until his Hall of Fame career completed it’s final chapter. But, that is fine, Jets' fans accepted that fact, and they respected it. How could you not?

Teemu stated in December 2011 upon his return that the Jets had indeed inquired about his services. "Winnipeg called my agent and asked if they could even make an offer," Selanne said. "But I told Don Baizley, my agent, earlier that the biggest question for me (then) was if I can play, not where I can play."

He was contemplating retirement, and did not make a final decision to return playing until late in the summer.

"I have been so long here (Anaheim) and have been so happy with this franchise and this team, there’s no way I could leave anymore" he said. "I was very honoured that they called but it’s too late to move."

But as of right now, August 7th, 2013, something within that thought process has appeared to change. Something about his future in Anaheim appears uncertain.

Nearly two years after his triumphant return to Winnipeg, a report has surfaced out of a Finland newspaper Iltalehti that Teemu Selanne has three options, 1. Return to Anaheim, 2. Play for another NHL team, or 3. Retire. Option #2 is all a Jets' fan needed to hear. A glimmer of hope.

First and foremost, Teemu is healthy and in excellent condition. More than usual this summer, he has been on the ice, skating and working out. And there is no doubt Teemu Selanne could still help this Jets' squad in some facet or another. He can still contribute offensively be it in a top-six or top-nine role. His leadership and approach to the game, and life in general, is about as good as it gets. Could the Jets fit him in financially? Yes. According to CapGeek, a bonus laden contract would work just fine. You can find a detailed explanation here.

Teemu Selanne has never forgotten where he came from, his roots, his home country of Finland. As we embark on the 2013-2014 NHL season, we also inch closer to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and for Teemu Selanne, he is interested in being there. Teemu has represented Finland in five Olympic Games (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010) winning a Silver medal (2006) and two Bronze medals (1998, 2010). During the 2010 Olympics, he became the all-time Olympic points leader for his country with 20 goals and 37 points in 31 games. He has also played for Finland in five World Championships and two World Cup of Hockey tournaments. To say he loves and takes pride in representing his country is an understatement.

It is well documented that Teemu has never forgotten Winnipeg, a place to this day he still holds near and dear to his heart. His oldest son was born in Winnipeg. He brought his three kids and wife along for the occasion that December to share what would be an eventful night of his career, and immediately upon arriving in town his three sons rushed off to an outdoor rink where they played for three hours. Teemu also brought his sons along because he wanted them to see and experience what a hockey market like Winnipeg was truly like. He has tried teaching them that if you treat people well, they will treat you well in return.

It’s safe to say that Teemu Selanne has treated Winnipeg right over the years, and the fans have done so in return. There is a bond here between a professional athlete and fans that can never be broken, memories never forgotten. Whether Teemu Selanne will ever play for the Winnipeg Jets again remains unknown, but as of this day in August of 2013 there is still hope, and hope is all that Jets fans can ask for.

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