Fans of the Fake Jets have a strong affinity for Teemu Selanne. This isn't strange or shocking, Selanne is beloved by almost every hockey fan. What is a little bizarre, however, is Winnipeg Jets fans' notion that Teemu Selanne is in anyway sentimental about their team, their city, or the people of Winnipeg themselves.
There's the obvious point that Selanne was never at all involved in anyway with today's Winnipeg Jets, as Selanne was never an Atlanta Thrasher, never considered being an Atlanta Thrasher, and was never part of any trade rumors regarding the Atlanta Thrashers. When the Thrashers became the Jets in 2011, Selanne still wanted nothing to do with them.
But let's play kayfabe here, and pretend that the Fake Jets have any real relation to the Real Winnipeg Jets, and somehow share in their superior legacy and meaningful history. It's difficult to play along, I know, considering that the faux Jets pale in comparison to the team they copied their name from, and even the modern-day incarnation of the real Jets down in Arizona have had more success in the NHL than this continuation of the Atlanta team, but let's pretend anyway. Selanne still wants nothing to do with them.
Prior to his retirement at the end of last season, Teemu Selanne had 3 chances as a Free Agent to return "home" to Winnipeg since the not-really Jets came to Winnipeg in 2011. Although some rumors originated out of Winnipeg claiming that Selanne would sign with Winnipeg during these times, by all serious accounts Selanne never even considered it. And it's not hard to determine why.
Selanne was miserable there.
Teemu Selanne openly admits that while he was in Winnipeg, he only planned to play a couple of seasons in the NHL, then leave for the European leagues. In fact, he made a bet with his Winnipeg teammates that he wouldn't stay long in the NHL. This means that Selanne was so miserable in the Great White North, that he refused to let it swallow any more than a couple of years of his life. He was willing to throw away his opportunity to play in the world's premier hockey league, and surefire shot at the millions of dollars to come, simply because he was miserable in Canada's forgotten Manitoba tundra.
But Selanne, as we all know, ended up playing, uh, a bit longer than 2 years in the NHL. Why? Well, in his own words:
"I'm very excited," Selanne said not long after the deal. "I'm so happy. Right now, (the trade) is the best thing to ever happen to me. This is a first-class organization, there are great guys in the dressing room."
Selanne being traded out of a miserable existence in Winnipeg and seeing what the best of North America had to offer in Southern California reframed his whole thought process, and convinced him to stay in the NHL as long as he could. He realized there was more to hockey and North America than the daily dreadful life of an unlivable, forgotten Winnipeg, and he stayed a while.
The best thing that ever happened to him.
And the above statement was not just lip-service to a new fanbase, it's a sentiment he's repeated in countless interviews. But more so, he's let his actions prove it.
Selanne has long roots in Anaheim, and now retired, he's enjoying his continued life in Southern California. He has no plans to open a second Selanne Steak Tavern in Winnipeg, for example (you folks will have to stick to sucking down Slurpees instead of enjoying fine dining like civilized North America).
The truth is, you can forgive Selanne all you want for having the good sense to leave you behind. But Selanne surely can never forgive the Manitoban hellscape for sucking some of the greatest years of his life right out of him.
And he shouldn't.
Monday, Apr 20, 2015, 6:00 PM PDT
Next game is 4/20 so we'll get a Stoner goal for sure.— Earl Sleek (@earlsleek) April 19, 2015