It all began in Jack Ferreira's office one Friday afternoon in early February 1996.
"I was sitting there with [then-Anaheim coach] Ron Wilson. We had both kind of heard rumblings about Winnipeg maybe moving Teemu Selanne," Ferreira recalled to ESPN.com this week. "So we were talking about our team, and then talking about Teemu, and I just said, 'The hell with it.'"
Ferreira, general manager at the time of what were called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, picked up the phone and called then-Winnipeg Jets GM John Paddock.
"I got him at his house," Ferreira vividly recalled. "I asked him flat-out: 'I heard these rumors, are you looking to move Teemu?' And he said, 'Well, we might.' So right then I said to him: 'I'll give you Oleg Tverdovsky.' Because I had to throw something at him to get his attention. ... John didn't say yes, he didn't say no. But I had his attention."
Selanne, whose No. 8 will be raised to the Honda Center rafters Sunday night, had heard the trade rumors but by this point had believed he would not be moved.
"Ten days before the trade, the new owners for Winnipeg called me," Selanne recounted this week. Richard Burke and Steven Gluckstern were the owners of the team then. "There were rumors that I might be traded; I remember we were in Washington and the owner called on game day and said, 'Don't worry about the rumors, nothing is going to happen. You're a big part of our future down in Phoenix.' I was glad he called, I didn't have to worry about that."
Or so he thought at the time.
Instead, Paddock and Ferreira agreed to resume their trade conversation in person on the Monday when the NHL general managers meeting opened in Tucson, Arizona.
"At that point, I offered up Chad Kilger as well," said Ferreira. "Chad was another first-rounder of ours. One thing led to another at this point as we kept talking."
All this time, Ferreira remembered, neither he nor Paddock actually walked into the room where the GMs were meeting that first day.
"We were out talking about the trade the whole time," said Ferreira, now a senior adviser to Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi.
Craig Patrick, then GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins noticed the absence of his colleagues from the room.
"Craig says to me, 'What do you have going?' I told him he'd be the first to know if it indeed came down," said Ferreira.
The Ducks GM had sent details of Selanne's contract back to Anaheim, where it was being reviewed by the rest of the front office.
"Teemu had a real inflationary-type contract at the time; our people were going over it back home, it was a deal where he had escalation clauses where if he [reached] a bonus ... it was automatically added on to the next 2-3 years," said Ferreira. "So his contract, as I kept hearing from our people back in Anaheim, was quite inflationary. Yes, it was, but he was also going to change the franchise, too."
The novelty had started to wear off in Anaheim after its first couple of expansion years. There were some empty seats.
"We needed something to restart the franchise," said Ferreira.
The trade was finalized on the Tuesday of the GMs meeting.
"I remember writing what the trade was on a 3x5 card and went into the GMs meeting and, as I walked by Craig Patrick, I put the card in front of him," said Ferreira.
Winnipeg would send Selanne, Marc Chouinard and a fourth-round pick (which was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who later traded to the Montreal Canadiens, who selected Kim Staal) to Anaheim in exchange for Tverdovsky, Kilger and a third-round pick (used on Per-Anton Lundstrom, who never played in the NHL).
"Craig Patrick looked at it and said, 'Holy s---.' That was his reaction," said Ferreira, chuckling. "Then word spread around the room that we made the deal."
Selanne got official word back in Winnipeg and reacted with intense emotion. He felt betrayed.
"I was mad," said Selanne. "When you trust someone's word and then you feel it was not the trust. It was very disappointing."
Added Selanne: "I didn't want to leave, I was happy there, I was very pissed off when it happened. But you know obviously it turned out to be a great thing."
Besides, as Selanne would later conclude, the Jets were leaving Winnipeg to become the Phoenix Coyotes the following season.
Paddock, reached by ESPN.com this week in Regina, where he's the head coach and senior vice president of hockey operations for the WHL's Pats, said, in hindsight, he obviously regrets making that trade, but explains the factors that led to it.
"There was a point made, an emphasis made by new ownership -- looking at the longer-term picture -- how can we afford three $3 million-a-year forwards in Keith Tkachuk, Teemu Selanne and Alexei Zhamnov?" said Paddock.
"We didn't have a young stud on defense, that was another factor," added Paddock, referring to his interest being piqued by Tverdovsky, an electrifying young blueliner.
"The other thing was that we had a doctor's opinion that there was long-term health concern of Teemu's knees. Which was probably well-founded -- he would have surgery later on his career -- but it was far down the road, it wasn't like it was two or three years later. But that was a factor in it."
The trade looks one-sided today, but it wasn't quite the case at the time. Tverdovsky and Kilger were both young first-round picks with name value, both young players that other teams around the league thought highly of.
In fact, Tverdovsky, a second-overall pick in 1994, would put up a career-high 55 points for the Jets in 1996-97 and play in the 1997 All-Star Game.
But over time he would be more of a very good player rather than a veritable star, while Kilger never lived up to his first-round billing, playing out most of his career as a third- or fourth-line center.
On Kilger, Ferreira already had his suspicions before the trade.
"Yes," said Ferreira. "It's probably the only time that I've ever really got on our scouts. Because I knew that he was not the fourth-best player in that draft. It was not Chad's fault. We were the ones who made the decision."
But Ferreira also said it was clear back then that Paddock had been under duress to make a trade happen.
"There was definitely pressure there on him to make a deal," said Ferreira.
"In hindsight, would you do it differently? Of course you would. But that's hindsight."Former Jets GM John Paddock on Teemu Selanne trade
Other NHL teams had also heard rumors that Selanne was available and had made inquiries.
"Of course we had interest in Selanne," Sam McMaster, who was GM of the Los Angeles Kings back then, told ESPN.com this week. "I can't recall everything, but I think it was a very short conversation with Winnipeg because really we weren't in the market for giving up any of our younger players. I don't think we ever had an offer made to us. It was done very quickly with Anaheim, almost before I could really think about it."
Imagine Selanne a King instead of a Duck?
Paddock, though, didn't recall any other team really getting far with him other than Anaheim.
"I know I talked to other teams about the possibility of doing it, but the allure from Anaheim of getting their two previous first-round draft picks ... it became appealing to us," said Paddock.
"In hindsight, would you do it differently? Of course you would," said Paddock. "But that's hindsight. The owners talked about budget and contracts and trying to get a defenseman ... and there was a health concern with Teemu. ... There were different factors."
As both Selanne and Paddock said this week, it all turned out well. What a ride it would end up being for Selanne with the Ducks.
"We've talked lots since over the years," Paddock said of Selanne. "I got a signed stick from him last year. He's a tremendous person and personality. He's a wonderful player and a wonderful person."
In Anaheim, Selanne would find a hockey soulmate in Paul Kariya, the two star forwards jelling immediately and forming one of the NHL's most exciting 1-2 punches.
"It was instant chemistry," said Ferreira.
"As a person, we [Selanne and Kariya] are totally opposites, but the way we felt and thought about the game, it was exactly the same way," Selanne said. "The speed was our key. We both could score and pass. It was so important to make the right decision at the right time. We challenged each other. Every practice we had a competition. We pushed ourselves every day. If he made a bad pass during a game, I would yell at him and vice versa. We really enjoyed hanging out [with] each other and we're still good friends. It was a very special time."
After parts of six seasons in Anaheim, Selanne was dealt to the San Jose Sharks in 2001; he then signed along with Kariya as part of a UFA package deal with the Colorado Avalanche for the 2003-04 season, the pair chasing a Stanley Cup together.
It didn't work out.
Selanne returned to Anaheim for the final nine seasons of his career, and finally found his Cup in 2007.
"People have no idea how hard it is to win the Cup," said Selanne. "I had to wait 15 years, and I was so happy that it happened here, playing for the Ducks, and in our home building. No words to describe that feeling."
Another special feeling awaits Sunday night when No. 8 is retired by the Ducks ahead of a game against, of course, the Winnipeg Jets.
"I don't really have an expectation for that, I've never been part of anything like this before," said Selanne. "So it's going to be very exciting. It's going to be a very special night. I've got 60 people from Finland flying over. All the fans here ... my family, it's going to be an emotional moment for sure. It's a big honor for me. I really appreciate everything that's happened in my career and seeing that No. 8 going up means a lot."
He's just enjoying life right now, especially time spent with his four kids after 21 years on the road, but he will return to hockey in some official capacity at some point.
"In the future, for sure I'll be a bigger part of hockey and the Ducks. But right now it's about relaxing and enjoying life," Selanne said.
Maybe he'll be a GM one day, sitting in that same seat that Jack Ferreira was some 19 years ago when he forever changed Selanne's life.