Teemu Selanne returns to Ducks for last NHL season
ANAHEIM, California (AP) — Teemu Selanne is ready for his last skate.
Selanne is returning to the Anaheim Ducks for his 21st and final NHL season, the 43-year-old Finnish forward announced Friday.
After spending most of the summer contemplating his future, he released a humorous video on YouTube confirming he’ll be back for one more run at another Stanley Cup title. He also hopes to play for Finland in his record sixth Olympics in Sochi in February.
Selanne agreed to a one-year deal worth $2 million — and for the first time in his now-annual flirtations with retirement, the Finnish Flash insists he won’t be back.
“Now it’ll be easier to take advantage of every day,” Selanne said. “I think it’s good for everybody. My family, too. They’ve been asking some questions over the years, and now everybody knows.”
Two weeks before the Ducks open training camp, Selanne confirmed he’s still hungry for another season as the NHL’s oldest active player. The right wing has flirted with retirement every year since Anaheim won the Stanley Cup in 2007, always electing to return to the Ducks.
He is the 15th-leading scorer in NHL history with 1,430 points, and his 675 career goals are 11th-most in league history. Selanne has spent parts of 14 seasons with Anaheim in an NHL career than began in Winnipeg in 1992.
“He clearly still has passion for the game and can’t wait to get started,” Anaheim general manager Bob Murray said. “We are so pleased that Teemu will end his career where he belongs.”
And four years after Selanne insisted he was done with international hockey at the Vancouver Games, he confirmed he would play in Sochi if selected to the Finnish team. He is the top scorer in Olympic hockey history with 37 points in 31 games dating back to the Albertville Games in 1992.
“That’s a big bonus for the next season,” Selanne said. “Obviously, this could be my sixth Olympics, so it’s something I’m very proud of. That’s absolutely my goal, for sure.”
Hockey fans will have one more season to enjoy the speedy forward’s sublime goal-scoring skill and effervescent personality — something he showed off in a video presentation he wrote himself.
Selanne’s announcement video shows him struggling at golf, eventually throwing his bag into a lake in frustration. When he realizes his phone is in the bag, he jumps into the lake to retrieve it before calling Murray.
“I’m coming back,” Selanne says. “Yeah, but this is it. This is my final one.”
The video was filmed on the course in Coto de Caza, the gated community in Orange County where Selanne’s family lives year-round.
His acting skills aside, Selanne already has created an indelible mark on his sport ever since he burst onto the NHL scene with the Winnipeg Jets as a 22-year-old phenom, scoring a rookie-record 76 goals and leading the NHL in scoring.
He has led the NHL in goals three times — including 1999, when he won the inaugural Richard Trophy — while scoring at least 20 goals in 17 seasons. He also played for San Jose and Colorado between two stints in Anaheim, where he is a beloved fan favorite and the franchise’s career scoring leader with 961 points in 902 games.
With 675 goals, Selanne is six behind 41-year-old New Jersey forward Jaromir Jagr for 10th place in NHL history, and is third on the NHL’s career power-play goals list with 251. With strong seasons, both veterans could catch Mark Messier (694), Steve Yzerman (692) or Mario Lemieux (690) on the career goals list.
Selanne realizes the grind in front of him with a packed NHL schedule around the Olympic break. He expects to preserve his health by taking a few games off during the season, as he did a few times last year during the lockout-shortened slate.
“I didn’t really want to sit out for a game (last season), but I realized afterward it’s going to be pretty good for me,” Selanne said. “We’ll sit down where the schedule is really hectic, and maybe I can take some nights off. Last year it was almost impossible to get the recovery you needed.”
Selanne met with Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau before making his decision, coming away confident he’ll be a key contributor in Anaheim. Selanne’s role diminished slightly last year with the Ducks, who won the Pacific Division title before losing in the first round of the playoffs.
He had 12 goals and 12 assists in 46 games, but still displayed his usual speed and goal-scoring acumen despite decreases in ice time and production late in the season. After their meeting, Selanne is confident Boudreau has an important role for him this fall.
“I never want to get any promises, because I know a coach can’t really do that,” Selanne said. “We have a great group of young guys coming. It’s a good competition here right now, and everyone has to earn the ice time and the power play. I know I can do it. I just need to be on the same page with the coach, and that’s what happened. I’m very happy about it.”
Selanne took a pay cut from last season’s $4.5 million salary for his final return to the Ducks, who committed $135 million to cornerstone forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in eight-year contract extensions last season.
Anaheim then traded goal-scoring forward Bobby Ryan to Ottawa, but retained the core of an exciting, up-tempo team that finally played up to its potential in the regular season. The Ducks’ postseason loss to Detroit, dropping Game 7 on home ice, only hardened Selanne’s desire to return for one last shot.
“I felt, like everyone in our locker room, we have a better team than this,” Selanne said. “We have unfinished business. We know we can do better, and that’s the main reason I’m still here. We have a good team and a lot of things going on. If we had a bad team and a bad season, it would be easy to say, ‘Thanks for everything,’ and go on, but I feel I can do better, we can do better.”