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Tkachuk feels fortunate to have been Selanne's teammate

Wednesday, 14.12.2011 / 3:41 PM / Feature
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Tkachuk feels fortunate to have been Selanne\'s teammate
Keith Tkachuk had one of the best vantage points to watch Teemu Selanne\'s record-setting rookie season -- on the bench with him
It's one of those memories that always will make Keith Tkachuk shake his head in disbelief.

Tkachuk, who retired in 2010 and was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday in Chicago, was just 20 years old and playing his first full season with the original version of the Winnipeg Jets when Teemu Selanne, a 22-year old Jets rookie, scored a jaw-dropping 76 goals.

That mark shattered Mike Bossy's old NHL rookie scoring record of 54 goals and remains a record today. Selanne also added 56 assists that season, and his 132 points also remains a League record for first-year players.

It didn't take Tkachuk or anyone else long to realize just how good the "Finnish Flash" was -- especially at skating and putting the puck in the net.

"The first day of training camp, you saw him and you noticed how skilled he was and how fast," said Tkachuk, who had 28 goals and 51 points himself that season. "He was determined to score goals and nobody could score goals skating with that speed like he did. There's only one other guy, Joe Sakic, so it was pretty cool to see."

It also was a little mind-numbing to witness.

The first day of training camp, you saw him and you noticed how skilled he was and how fast. He was determined to score goals and nobody could score goals skating with that speed like he did. - Keith Tkachuk
Nobody just walks into the NHL straight from playing in Finland and scores 76 goals as a rookie … except Selanne, who still is giving opposing goalies problems at the age of 41 for the Anaheim Ducks. He has 9 goals and 20 assists in 29 games this season, after scoring 31 goals last season. His 646 goals are second among active players and 13th all-time.

Selanne will return to Winnipeg on Saturday to face the re-born version of the Jets at MTS Centre, but what he did nearly 20 years ago still makes people marvel when they think about it.

"That was unbelievable," Tkachuk said. "I mean, you just sat back and you were in awe of what was happening. I don't think anybody was ready to see how fast this kid (was). Nobody could keep up (with) him."

Not many goalies were ready for the speed and skill combination he possessed, either. Selanne's skating and defenseman Phil Housley's offensive talents in the passing game were a lethal combination. Housley scored 18 goals in 1992-93 but also had 79 assists -- many of which, as Tkachuk recalled, went straight to Selanne.

"You know, to score 76 goals … that's unheard of," Tkachuk said. "I mean, everything was going in (for Selanne). He got more breakaways in a game just because of his speed and his relationship with Phil Housley, who'd send him all the time. It was pretty remarkable. I'm glad I was a part of that."

Luke Adam
Keith Tkachuk
Left wing - career staTs
GOALS: 538 | ASST: 527 | PTS: 1,065
GAMES PLAYED: 1,201 | +/-: 33
Tkachuk also has another, more humorous, memory of that season with Selanne. On the night Selanne broke the rookie scoring record -- with a hat trick against the Quebec Nordiques -- Tkachuk had an odd stat line of his own to ponder.

"The game he broke the rookie record, we won like 6-5 and the only reason I remember that game was because I was minus-5 that night and I scored a goal," Tkachuk said, laughing. "I don't know how that could happen."

Equally as puzzling is the way Selanne seemingly never loses his great first step, speed and magic around the net.

"He just has a great knack for knowing how to score goals," said former star defenseman Chris Chelios. "I watched him play the other night and I've seen how he does it. I've seen how just all of a sudden disappears, goes behind the net and then he's wide open on the other side. He's a great player."

Tkachuk agrees.

"It's great to see," he said. "He's 40-something years old and still going out and getting the job done. It's fun to see. Hopefully he can keep doing it."


Author: Brian Hedger | NHL.com Correspondent

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 49 32 11 6 146 130 70
2 NSH 47 31 10 6 145 112 68
3 STL 47 30 13 4 153 115 64
4 CHI 48 30 16 2 151 112 62
5 WPG 50 26 16 8 140 127 60
6 SJS 49 26 17 6 137 135 58
7 VAN 46 26 17 3 124 118 55
8 CGY 49 26 20 3 140 127 55
9 LAK 48 21 15 12 133 129 54
10 DAL 48 22 19 7 152 157 51
11 COL 49 20 18 11 128 141 51
12 MIN 48 22 20 6 131 138 50
13 ARI 48 17 25 6 111 161 40
14 EDM 49 13 27 9 113 162 35

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Ladd 50 17 23 9 40
B. Little 50 18 20 9 38
B. Wheeler 50 13 23 10 36
D. Byfuglien 50 12 21 8 33
M. Perreault 47 17 14 0 31
M. Frolik 50 10 17 6 27
M. Scheifele 50 7 20 3 27
E. Kane 35 10 12 3 22
A. Lowry 49 6 9 3 15
J. Trouba 34 5 9 4 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Hutchinson 14 5 2 .932 2.00
O. Pavelec 12 11 6 .911 2.52
 
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