Teemu Selanne made his long awaited return to Winnipeg Saturday night and got a rousing standing ovation from a packed MTS Centre.
Selanne launched his career in Winnipeg in 1992 by scoring 76 goals and accumulating 132 in his rookie year. Winnipeg traded him to Anaheim in February 1996, just before the Jets moved to Phoenix, and he has been there ever since.
After 15 years Selanne is still considered so much of a hero in Winnipeg that a group of fans gathered at a downtown hotel at 2 a.m. to cheer him when the Ducks arrived from Chicago, where they played the night before. That was just the start.
Selanne was feted at a press conference Saturday morning, complete with police protection, and was given a tribute in a video during the game.
Fans were so taken with Selanne they cheered every time he touched the puck, but booed every other Duck player. And they even cheered when he got an assist on a goal in the first period.
All the adulation seemed to be wearing a bit on the Finn, who brought his wife, mother and four children to Winnipeg for the game. He smiled and gave a half hearted wave to the fans during the video tribute. Ofcourse at the time, the Ducks were down 2-0.
They tied the game as the first period ended and by then the MTS Crowd had turned its attention to its regular habit -- jeering Duck goaltender Dan Ellis