Finnish Flash Teemu Selanne insists he still has some unfinished business (with video)
Coach, teammates marvel over 42-year-old winger’s energy, passion
VANCOUVER — Nine months between games gave Anaheim Ducks’ winger Teemu Selanne ample time to polish up his one-liners so he was prepared Friday when queried about embarking on his 20th National Hockey League campaign.
“This is a miracle, for sure,” quipped the 42-year-old Finn following practice at Rogers Arena. “I don’t know what the secret is. Most of the days I don’t feel like I’m 42.”
He doesn’t look it either. He still has lots of hair and hardly any of it is grey. Even Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau can’t believe the Finnish Flash is up there in age. The Ducks and Vancouver Canucks open the abbreviated 2013 season Saturday night in Vancouver.
“Teemu looks the same as he’s looked ever since I started watching him play,” Boudreau said. “I mean, we keep waiting for him to get old but he doesn’t seem to want to, which is great, He’s such a good influence over young guys, he’s such a good teammate and he’s still got his skills. I haven’t seen them deteriorate.”
Fellow Finn and Duck teammate Saku Koivu, 38, can scarcely believe Selanne is still trucking along, especially when he recalls a conversation the two had during the 2006 Olympics.
“We were talking after one game at the dinner table and he was almost willing to bet that was his last year,” chuckled Koivu. “That was seven years ago. So you can never say never, I guess.”
With 1,406 points, Selanne is already the highest scoring Finn in NHL history. Last season, he led the Ducks with 66 points and played all 82 games. The real miracle, he noted, is to stay healthy and he admitted he had concerns about the shortened season.
He was also loathe to declare this would be his final merry-go-round.
“I don’t know, let’s see how I feel during the year,” he said. “It’s not going to get any easier, that’s for sure, but so far, so good. Obviously the biggest challenge for me is the recovery time. You have to do all the right things to recover on a daily basis, especially with this schedule. It’s going to be really, really challenging. Hopefully you can stay healthy. That’s the key.”
Boudreau suggested he will tell Selanne to stay off the ice on some practice days to help keep him chipper for the games. Of course, that might be easier said than done.
“Last year when I got here, I’d tell him ‘don’t go on’ and then I’d turn my back and he’d sneak on like a little seven-year-old,” Boudreau said. “You don’t see that enthusiasm in people all the time so it’s great to see. I think I’ll put my foot down this year a little bit more because I know him better.”
It appears he might have a battle on his hands, though.
“Bruce tries to force me not to go on the ice but I feel better if I do, even if it’s only like 20 to 30 minutes a day,” Selanne said. “It makes my body feel better.”
Our money is on the Finnish Flash. After all, who would bet against a 663-goal scorer?
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