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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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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NSH 62 41 14 7 188 147 89
2 ANA 63 39 17 7 186 176 85
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 63 37 21 5 183 150 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 61 29 20 12 164 157 70
9 CGY 62 33 25 4 175 160 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 COL 62 27 24 11 166 179 65
12 DAL 62 27 25 10 195 207 64
13 ARI 62 20 35 7 137 210 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
B. Little 63 24 26 9 50
A. Ladd 63 20 30 12 50
B. Wheeler 61 16 28 12 44
D. Byfuglien 63 15 26 6 41
M. Perreault 56 18 18 3 36
M. Scheifele 63 10 25 4 35
M. Frolik 63 13 19 3 32
D. Stafford 57 10 17 -18 27
J. Tlusty 53 13 10 -17 23
E. Kane 37 10 12 -1 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Hutchinson 18 7 5 .920 2.29
O. Pavelec 13 13 7 .909 2.60
 
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