Jets are Selanne fans too
Anaheim Ducks Teemu Selanne handles the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period of their NHL hockey game in Anaheim, California November 27, 2011. (REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)
Eric Fehr doesn’t figure on being starstruck if he lines up beside Teemu Selanne on Saturday night.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t appreciate the significance of facing off against one of the players he grew up rooting for as he grew up a Winnipeg Jets fan in his hometown of Winkler.
“He was my favourite player and he’s still my favourite player,” said Fehr, now a Jets winger himself. “It’s going to be great to see him in this building. The fans are really looking forward to seeing him here. He brought a lot to this city.
“It’s part of the game, to play against these guys. I put this right up there with playing against Mario Lemieux or somebody like that. He’s a huge idol of mine.”
As a youngster, Fehr had a Selanne poster up in his room and enjoyed watching him speed down the wing.
“I was a huge Winnipeg Jets fan and he was their best player — that’s usually who you end up watching,” said Fehr, who has an autographed Selanne Jets jersey. “He scored a lot of goals that first year and ever since then, I’ve been a huge fan.”
The return of the Finnish Flash is generating even more buzz than usual and prompted players like Fehr and several others to think back to the days when they watched Selanne on TV.
“My first NHL jersey was a No. 8 Mighty Ducks jersey, with Kane on the back,” said Kane. “He’s a great player. He had a lot of speed, he’s fast, had a quick shot and was all over the ice. He’s still doing that and that’s pretty impressive to see at his age.”
“The things he’s done in this league are pretty amazing,” added Jets captain Andrew Ladd. “I know the people in this town appreciate what he’s done. It will be a cool night.”
Jets goalie Chris Mason has faced Selanne plenty over the course of his career and always had an appreciation for what he’s been able to accomplish.
“He plays at such a fast pace. He can fly down the wing and make plays at that speed,” said Mason. “You think of players getting older and maybe their speed declines a little bit but that’s definitely not the case with him. The last few years he’s looked as strong as ever. From talking to guys, you know he keeps himself in excellent shape.
“He’s smart and just seems to find open spot and makes shots. He’s a complete hockey player. A superstar.”
Mason has some vivid memories from Selanne’s rookie season, the one that saw him shatter Mike Bossy’s record by scoring 76 goals.
“You remember the nickname, the Finnish Flash, his (Jofa) helmet,” said Mason. “He seemed like a real personable guy, had such a great personality and zest for the game. It was a great story. The 76 goals was crazy. It was neat to watch, that’s for sure.”
Selanne is one of the most popular athletes in the provine’s history, so he’s bound to receive a thunderous ovation from the faithful inside MTS Centre on Saturday.
“You heard the ovation for (Phoenix Coyotes captain) Shane Doan, I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like for Selanne — it’s going to get loud in there,” said Mason. “This is a special place for him and I think it’s going to be awesome for everybody, including us.”