Selanne and Kariya go into Hall of Fame as one of hockey's greatest duos
Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya gave people a reason to pay attention to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the late 1990s when the franchise was still trying to be taken seriously in the NHL.
Sometimes there are teammates who have that intangible chemistry on the ice -- they have "it." Selanne and Karyia had "it" pretty much every game they played together between 1995 and 2000. It's only fitting they will enter the Hockey Hall of Fame together this year.
Back in those "Mighty" days, it went like this: When Kariya went left, Selanne went right, and somehow the puck ended up transferring between the two and eventually into the back of the net. They routinely put on a clinic of tic-tac-toe plays and head-turners which left everyone wondering if they truly did have some kind of telepathic bond. They both had blazing speed and very high hockey IQs. They were worth the ticket, no matter which side you were rooting for.
In 1998-99, both of them scored more than 100 points, pushing the otherwise unimpressive Mighty Ducks (35-34-15) into the playoffs where they were abruptly swept in the first round by the overpowering Detroit Red Wings. Sadly, that was the last time the Selanne-Kariya duo would play in the post season together -- their 2003-04 season with the Colorado Avalanche doesn't count as Kariya appeared in just one playoff game with the Avs.
Kariya led the Mighty Ducks to a Stanley Cup final in 2003 where they fell short in seven games against the New Jersey Devils. One wonders what could have been if Selanne would have stayed with Anaheim instead of venturing north to join the San Jose Sharks.
When Selanne returned to Anaheim and finally hoisted the Cup in 2007 with the new-look Ducks (minus the Mighty), there was some bitter-sweetness to the moment for many hockey fans who likely envisioned a Selanne-Kariya celebration. Kariya had left Anaheim in 2003 and spent the final years of his career battling post-concussion syndrome.
The chemistry they had is what every GM and coach dreams about. You can't teach it and you can't necessarily go out looking for it. But when you see it, you know it's special, even if your team isn't anything to write home about.
Now it's time to bask in the highlights:
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