He’s coming back and boy is the city of Anaheim ecstatic over that prospect. When Teemu Selanne recently announced that he would again don a Duck jersey for the upcoming hockey campaign, local puck fans were simultaneously relieved and excited.
Relieved because the face of the franchise wasn’t going anywhere and because the revered Teemu would still be in the house. And excited because even at the advanced age of 42, Selanne remains a vibrant and dynamic force fully capable of energizing and inspiring his team.
Yes, Selanne may be getting long in the tooth but he doesn’t look it nor does he show any visible signs of slowing down. Remarkably, Selanne is still playing at a extremely high level. He seems to just keep rolling along. Compared to him, Old Man River is a short-timer.
For Selanne, the thought of retirement has cropped up over the last few years. But not for the reason you might think. It had nothing to do with diminished skills or lack of production. On the contrary, Teemu has been functioning more like a peaking player in his twenties. No, Selanne is still getting it done on the ice.
Rather, it came down to whether the masterful vet had the will, motivation and drive to put himself through the rigors of another physically taxing season, not to mention putting in the many hours of preparation prior to training camp. Hockey in today’s world is a year-round business and Selanne had to be sure he was ready to make the requiste commitment in order to stay viable. In other words, Selanne needed to be all in. Now that he’s made his decision, Teemu’s all set to build on his legacy and add to his incredible numbers that currently show him 12th in goals (663) and 19th in total points (1406) in all of NHL history.
The truth of the matter is the Ducks desperately needed Selanne to come back. If he had taken his talented stick and headed off into the sunset, it would have been a huge blow to the team on multiple fronts.
To begin with, the Ducks would have been hard pressed to replace the scoring output that Selanne can still deliver. Exhibit A of just how key Selanne is to the Ducks’ offense is reflected by the fact that it was the speedy winger who led Anaheim in scoring last season with a solid 66 points, 26 of which came on goals.
Then, there’s the undeniable leadership factor that Selanne brings to the table. Because he is the consummate professional and exudes such a positive vibe, Selanne looms as a huge presence in the locker room. He is rightfully one of the Ducks’ assistant captains and his teammates look to him to provide an example as to how to compete on a nightly basis.
Finally, Selanne’s box office appeal can’t be minimized. Even now, he’s one of the most electrifying players in the game. He can be excitement personified with his dashing forays up ice, his subtle and deft moves around the net and the effort he brings to every shift he takes. There aren’t many players who can truly stir the blood and get fans to rise up out of their seats but Selanne is one of them. Selanne remains an impressive figure on skates because of his notable jump, the wondrous spring in his step and his explosive burst. When Selanne is on the fly, it can be pure poetry.
One other thing must be mentioned as it relates to Selanne and that’s his consistency of performance. Over the last seven years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend numerous Duck games, really too many to count, and not once did Selanne ever fail to show up. In each of those games, and this is no exaggeration, Teemu was a major threat who created constant scoring chances for both himself and his teammates. The opposition was driven to distraction by Selanne’s wizardry and always had to account for his whereabouts.
They call Teemu the Finnish Flash which is appropriate because he can be a flash when he skates and he can score in a flash. Thankfully, for both the Ducks and their patrons, the Flash is back for another go round.
ocregister.com – Ducks – 7.12.2012, ducks.nhl.com – news – 7.12.2012 and 7.16.2012