Teemu Selanne has 606 career NHL goals. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
It’s something he has mulled over and sometimes come close to doing ever since the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, but Teemu Selanne believes this will be his final season in the NHL.
“It takes so much hard work and dedication in this day and age,” Selanne said, “but it’s hard to give up something you love.”
The future Hall of Famer noted that the Stanley Cup was his only dream and once it was realized in ’07, he had to think long and hard about his options. That often meant taking more time with the decision than some Anaheim fans may have been comfortable with, but always led to the right call.
“You have to wait until your head is clear and you have the whole picture,” he noted.
The ‘Finnish Flash’ currently stands at 606 career goals and will easily pass Dino Ciccarelli and Bobby Hull - and also likely eclipse Joe Sakic - on the all-time list this season. If Selanne can hit 35 goals, he’ll best Dave Andreychuk for 13th in history. Coming into the campaign with 1,260 points, he can easily crest the 1,300-point barrier too, passing Jean Ratelle, Al MacInnis and Alex Delvecchio along the way for 32nd overall.
And on this Ducks team, I think he can accomplish both feats. The key of course, was the re-signing of restricted free agent Bobby Ryan, the top-line right winger who has seen time in training camp as a center. With Matt Beleskey taking Ryan’s spot alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, that gives Selanne a pretty strong pivot.
Not that he had gone without. In fact, fellow Finnish veteran Saku Koivu has always had good chemistry (internationally before last season) with Selanne and the pair formed a nice combo late last year with Jason Blake. So I guess what I’m saying is, the Ducks have options up front.
Offense is unquestioned in Anaheim, but in the Western Conference, the big unknown will come from the defense corps - you know, the one that no longer features Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. New additions such as Andy Sutton, Toni Lydman and Paul Mara mean Anaheim will be competent, but the team’s dynamic is quickly changing from those halcyon always-have-a-future-Hall-of-Famer-on-the-ice days.
And of course, goaltender Jonas Hiller must maintain the form he has shown early in his career. But the Ducks will be motivated after last year’s failure to make the post-season, a rarity in the O.C. since the lockout.
“Missing the playoffs was so tough,” Selanne said.
And leadership, despite the losses of Pronger and Niedermayer, will not be a problem. Along with Selanne and Koivu (who captained the Montreal Canadiens for nearly a decade), Getzlaf and Perry are known as two of the most talkative, pump-up-the-boys voices around and even made their views heard on Canada’s stacked Olympic team in Vancouver; hard to imagine any other candidates for the future captaincy in Anaheim.
So while The Hockey News predicted an 11th-place finish for the Ducks in the West, Selanne is more optimistic.
“I have a pretty good feeling about this group,” he said.
Given that this is his last kick at the can and that it’s obvious he doesn’t want to hang up his skates on a down note, maybe we shouldn’t count the Ducks out this season either.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column - The Straight Edge - every Friday.
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