The quickest, and probably most efficient way to illustrate the length of any one player’s career is to go back to when that player first joined the league, and reference all the pop culture and current news events of that time period. Let’s try this with Teemu Selanne, who at age 43, is both a NHL ‘94 treasure from two decades ago and still an active player.
Pop culture and current events to consider: Gladiator won best picture, Tom Hanks was nominated for best actor for Cast Away, Vince Carter dropped the "Dunk of Death", CSI made its debut, as did Survivor and 106 & Park (I really could have included something else), Party of Five and Beverly Hills 90210 ended, 50 Cent was shot nine times in Queens, Eminem released the Marshall Mathers LP, Sony launched the Playstation 2 and Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open by 15 shots.
All of these things seemed like a long time ago, now consider that they all happened in and around the time Selanne was entering his 10th season in the league.
To actually talk about the start of Selanne’s career, we need to go all the way back to the 1992-93 season, when Selanne, along with Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhamnov, formed The Olympic Line and in his rookie season, scored a league-leading 76 goals.
Of course, 21 seasons in the league is a long time, as I’ve repeated over and over in the paragraphs above, but beyond just longevity, Selanne has also been consistent, even superb for his age. He cracked the 50-goal mark in back-to-back seasons for the Mighty Ducks at age 26 and 27, then scored 48 goals as a 36-year-old in 2007. He’s averaged a career-low in minutes this season, but has still contributed to the Ducks’ regular season, which has them as the number one seed in the West, poised for a playoff run.
It’s been awhile since I’ve followed hockey on a regular basis, but I still marvel at Selanne’s career every so often, for his accomplishments, his ability to stay relevant for over two decades in a game that usually punishes those who stay too long, and how he’s leaving the game on his own terms. Some leave too soon, some overstay their welcome, but Selanne seems to have perfected the timing in everything, and we’ll remember him for that too.