Tuesday, April 3, 2012
C'mon Teemu, give us one more year
By Pierre LeBrun
Teemu Selanne has a big decision ahead of him, but he needs to decompress before making it.
Will he return to play a 20th NHL season?
"I will take a month off after the season, and then when June comes around and it’s time to start my workouts, I need to see if I’m ready to push again," Selanne told ESPN.com Monday.
The Finnish Flash will turn 42 on July 3. And yet, he doesn’t look his age on the ice at all. Amazingly, he leads the Ducks in scoring -- he had 65 points (26-39) in 79 games entering Tuesday night’s game at Vancouver. Part of his criteria in continuing to play, he’s told many of us over the years, is that he can still play at an elite level. He doesn’t want to hang on for the sake of it.
You can put a check next to that one. He’s still an elite player.
"I’ve really been enjoying it again this year," said Selanne. "Obviously, it was really disappointing not to make the playoffs. But still, it was fun every day to go to the rink. That’s always a good sign. But when it’s time to make that decision, it’s more about the commitment and the dedication that you need, especially at this age. You have to be ready to push yourself. That’s what I want to make sure of when the time comes."
Selanne remains undecided about whether or not he’ll play for his native Finland in the upcoming IIHF men’s world hockey championships in Helsinki and Stockholm.
But he is sure about one thing: If he does return for another NHL season, it will be in Anaheim. I know that will crush the hearts of fans in Winnipeg, but Anaheim has been his NHL home for too long.
"It’s hard to even think about going anywhere else," said Selanne, who began his Hockey Hall of Fame-bound NHL career in Winnipeg.
Another factor is just how competitive his team would be. Selanne wants to play on a club that has a chance.
"Absolutely," he said. "And the way we played in the second half [Ducks have gone 23-14-5 since Jan. 1], that’s exactly what I was expecting the whole year," said Selanne. "It was just unbelievable how bad we were in the first half. We put ourselves so badly behind the 8-ball that it was almost impossible to come back and make the playoffs. The second half was really good, we have a lot of good young players, a good mix of older and young players. That’s why it’s so disappointing because I know we have all the tools to be a great team. Playing like that in the first half was almost like a crime."
A conversation with Selanne is never without a laugh or two. I had him crackling over the phone when I suggested that the 2014 Sochi Olympics were only 14 months away.
"It’s funny, after Salt Lake [in 2002], I said there’s no way I would play in Turin. Then I played in Vancouver. I guess in this business you never say never," he said chuckling.
C’mon Teemu, give us one more year.
Bruins injury updatesFirst-line forward Nathan Horton hasn’t played since Jan. 22 and, at this point, there’s just no way of knowing if he’ll play again this season.
"Status quo," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told ESPN.com Tuesday when asked for an update on the concussed forward. "Nothing has changed."
The news is more encouraging on goalie Tuukka Rask, out since early March with a groin strain. There were fears he could be out as long as six weeks, but he appears to be making better progress than that and he could be ready for the opening for the playoffs.
"There’s a chance, yes, there’s a chance he’ll be ready, although I don’t [know] how ready," Chiarelli said.
"We’ve got our third goalie up [Anton Khudobin] and he’s been playing well. So if it’s not Tuukka, it’ll be Khudobin."
But the thought right know is that at the very least Rask should be ready to dress as Tim Thomas’ backup sometime in the first round.
"I would think so, yes," said Chiarelli.