Teemu Selanne doesn't come from a family of athletes, his achievements in hockey are all his own doing. His father, Ilmar, hails from Savonlinna and Teemu was born when the family moved to Helsinki. When they moved to Rauma, Teemu played hockey for the local Lukko club. Eventually the family got a better apartment in Espoo, where from the age of 10 Selanne was considered a special talent mainly because of the determination he displayed in the three-team sports he took up. He played hockey for EJK Espoo, later known as EPS Espoo, bandy for Botnia Helsinki and soccer for Honka Espoo.
Early on, he was overlooked due to his small stature and missed out on invitations to camp with the national junior soccer team despite being his team's most prolific goal scorer. All the same, his small size helped him become more competitive and hone his skills, which in the end made him a star. He was 16 years old before he finally began to fill out. But when he was 14, his parents took a gamble that paid off. His twin brother, Paavo, a field hockey star and national team goalie, choose to continue his education. Teemu, on the other hand, was given free rein to follow a career in sports at the expense of his schooling, which was what he wanted. His next move was joining Jokerit Helsinki as a Junior C player.
The Winnipeg Jets drafted him in the first round in 1988 and he joined the club four years later. He played for the Jets for three and a half seasons until they traded him to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for Russian defender Oleg Tverdovsky. In 1992-93, "the Finnish Flash" had an incredible rookie season. He won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year hands down leading all other rookies in goals, in power-play goals, in game-winning goals and in total points. His record 76 goals set a new plateau in this category for rookies, eclipsing the old mark set by Mike Bossy by 23 goals.
The third season was decimated by the lockout and Selanne placed 19th in the scoring race. He again surpassed the 100 point mark in the next two years, but in the two after that he was for the second and third time the top goal scorer in the league. The last of these also saw a new trophy named after Maurice "Rocket" Richard established for the goal-scoring leader and Selanne became its first recipient. He has played in the All-Star Game nine times. He has 12 awards to date in the Finnish league. His first two full seasons in the SM-Liiga were bumper years as well, with a total of seven awards.
After parts of six seasons in Anaheim, Selanne joined the San Jose Sharks in the latter stages of the 2000-01 season and represented Finland at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. During the 2002-03 season, Selanne played in his 800th games and reached the 900-point milestone before signing with the Colorado Avalanche as a unrestricted free-agent in the summer of 2003. Upon his arrival with the Avs, Selanne struggled and finished with his lowest point total in his 12-year NHL career, finishing the season with 32 points (16-16-32).
Following the season, he would undergo reconstructive knee surgery and spend the entire 2004-05 lockout season rehabilitating his surgically repaired knee. After returning for a second stint with the Mighty Ducks, Selanne would once again find his touch, leading the club in goals (40) and points (90), his highest total since 1998-99. At the end of the season, Selanne was awarded the Bill Masterson Trophy for his perseverance and dedication to hockey.
In 2006-07, Selanne picked up where he left off tallying 48 goals (third best in the league). His success fuelled the Ducks offence that season as the club set new franchise records in wins (48) and points (110). In the ensuing playoffs, Selanne tallied 15 points in 21 games and helped the Ducks to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. The following summer Selanne considered retirement, but returned to the league in January 2008.
On the international stage, Selanne has represented his homeland at the World Junior Championships (1989), the World Championships (1991, 1996, 1999 and 2003), the Winter Olympics (1992, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010), the Canada Cup (1992) and the World Cup (1996, 2002, 2004 and 2008).
At the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, the fifth games for Selanne, he became the all-time leader for points scored in the Olympics, surpassing Hockey Hall of Famers Valeri Kharlamov and Harry Watson in the process. In addition to his personal success, Teemu also helped propel the Finnish club to capture the bronze medal.
On March 21, 2010, Selanne reached another personal milestone in his already illustrious career when he scored his 600th career goal in a game against the Colorado Avalanche.