Teemu Selanne is a rock star. Just ask the thousand plus people who showed up at Big Newport on Thursday January 8th, many rocking Anaheim Ducks swag, for an exclusive screening of the new Finnish-language documentary about Selanne's life and career, aptly titled, Sel8nne.
Forget Beatlemania, think Teemupalooza. The screening, which served as the kick-off event for "Teemu For8ver," a week-long celebration of the legendary hockey player's career, featured a VIP event that allowed lucky fans to take pictures and mingle with Selanne, as well as a Q&A session following the screening.
After an open-to-the-public display of Teemu's vast and impressive trophy case at the Henry & Susan Samueli Theater on Saturday the 10th, the week will culminate with Selanne's #8 being raised to the rafters of Honda Center on January 11th when the Duck face off against the Winnipeg Jets. Teemu's will be the first jersey retired in Ducks history -- a most fitting honor for the man who, for the majority of the team's twenty-plus year existence, was the definitive face of the franchise.
Throughout the event, Selanne was gracious, warm, and very often greeted fans as though they were good friends who hadn't seen each other in a while. That's because the not-so-secret truth is this: a lot of Teemu's fans are Teemu's friends. At least it seems that's how he sees it. His enthusiasm for making friends and connections with people--even if only to briefly put a smile on someone else's face--is infectious in a way that's almost impossible to fake. It's this that makes him a rock star.
Forget the 684 goals, 1,457 points, Stanley Cup, Olympic and World Championship medals, individual records and accomplishments. Forget the cars and wealth and fame. What makes Teemu Selanne a rock star--as definitively laid out in Sel8nne--is his humanity.
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The film, which is less documentary than celebration of one of the greatest hockey players to ever play the game (and surely one of the most popular), offers a peek behind the curtain into Selanne's family life, his childhood in Finland, and select highlights of his NHL and international career. Pure catnip for hockey fans, perhaps a bit wanting in substance for the uninitiated, and potentially frustrating for those unable to check their inner film critic at the door, Sel8nne nevertheless serves the exact purpose it sets out to: share Teemu--the man, the husband, the father, the son, the brother, the world famous hockey player--with the world.
Orange County should consider itself blessed to have been able to call Finland's greatest export it's own for most of the last twenty years, and the festivities of "Teemu For8ver" will serve as a fitting thank you to the best Anaheim Duck there ever was. Thank you, Teemu, and Teemu forever, indeed.