The Los Angeles Kings were spectacular in Game 7 of their Western Conference playoff series against the crosstown rival Anaheim Ducks. The Kings jumped on the Ducks early and didn’t let up on the way to a 6-2 win. But even more impressive was the sportsmanship the Kings displayed after the game, paying their respects to Ducks forward Teemu Selanne.
Selanne has said this would be his season, and Friday night’s playoff loss was the last time we will see him on the ice in the NHL. After the post-series handshake line, and despite being on the road in an opposing building, the Kings remained on the ice at the Honda Center. After a tough series between two rivals, the Kings gathered in a group near the bench area and tapped their sticks on the ice as a gesture of respect toward the 43-year-old future Hall of Famer. They then quietly exited the ice and allowed Selanne to have his final moment in front of his home fans.
It was truly a classy gesture by Los Angeles.
It was an emotional scene for everyone, especially Selanne who had a difficult time leaving the ice for the final time. But for his crosstown rivals to pay that kind of respect to him said a lot. The reason for the tribute was simple: the man known for years as “The Finnish Flash” has played 23 seasons in the NHL and in all that time I’ve never heard anyone say a bad thing about him. Forget his skill and scoring prowess, the fact that he is universally liked and respected is his biggest achievement in hockey.
Video of the Kings tribute is below:
For his career, Selanne scored 684 goals, had 773 assists and 1,457 points in 1,451 regular season games. He also scored 44 goals and dished out 44 assists in 129 career playoff games. He won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007, is a 10-time All-Star, won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 1999, the Calder Trophy in 1993 and the Bill Masterson Trophy in 2006. Additionally, he is 11th all-time in goals scored and 15th in total points.
Selanne will surely be inducted into the Hall of Fame as soon as he’s eligible. But his impact on the game went far beyond the ice.