There is no denying that the Winnipeg Jets have had a few star players in their franchise, and by that I mean the original, although the former Atlanta Thrashers have had a couple as well. The names Bobby Hull, Anders Hedberg, Thomas Steen, and Dale Hawerchuck come to mind right away. All of these players are revered in Winnipeg, of that there is no question. But the feeling that Jets fans have for Teemu Selanne is something somehow more intense. Whether its the way he handled himself while he was playing here, or the spectacular things he did on the ice during his stay in Winnipeg doesn't really matter.
The fact of the matter is that the Finnish Flash is something even more than adored. He is everything a parent wants their child to aspire to be. And I am not talking about his athletisism. Teemu Selanne is a consumate professional, an absolute phenomenal hockey player, but more than that, he is one of the most quality individuals I have ever had the good fortune of meeting.
During his years in Winnipeg Selanne was often seen playing ball hockey on off days with the children in his neighborhood. He was never too busy to stop and sign an autograph for an adoring fan and he never carried himself in a manner that would lead you to think that he was somehow better than you.
These are traits that come along in professional athletes all too infrequently. The spotlight, combined with the big paydays, tend to somehow change even the most down to earth people.
But not Teemu.
Tonight offers Jets fans the opportunity to say both thank you, and goodbye, to the city's most beloved former player. The opportunity for this city to tell this special player and incredible human being just what he has meant to them and how much he is missed.
There have been reports cycling through Winnipeg that the fans have decided to treat this game like a concert, and win or lose when the game is over the fans will chant his name and remain standing until their idol comes out for a final goodbye. Perhaps one final lap around a hockey rink that happens to not be his home ice.......and yet somehow always will be.
If this does turn out to be the case, and the fans are able to bring the Flash out for a curtain call, I will never be more proud of calling myself a Winnipegger. This is a moment that needs to happen.......and hopefully does.