TEEMU SELANNE: FABULOUS FINN NOT FINISHED
By Paul Freeman
Former teammate Jason Blake says, Hes such a good player. Hes a Hall of Famer. And hes got a lot of passion for the game. Hes always happy. Hes excited to come to the rink and he shows it every day.
Former linemate Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks says, Teemu is a great guy to have in the dressing room, as well as on the ice.
Selanne tells Top Shelf that he has been savoring every moment on the ice with his fellow Ducks.
Absolutely. As you get older, you realize how lucky you are when you get to play the game you love. You see things differently as you get older. And I have been enjoying the game, since the lockout, more than at any other time in my career, for sure. Even those great years when I was younger, I still enjoy it more now.
Thats why he looks so young on the ice, because of his exuberance. Passion is the key for this game, Selanne says. And thats the only reason why Im still here. I enjoy to come to the rink. I appreciate being healthy. When I was with Colorado, that year [2003-2004], I didnt enjoy the game. I lost the passion. And that really woke me up. I realized how lucky I was, when I had that knee surgery and was able to get my wheels back. Since then, Ive been a happy camper. I really appreciate everything.
Is anything more difficult at this stage of his career? The hardest thing right now is recovery time. When youre older, it takes more time than when we were younger. Thats why you have to be so smart about what you do off the ice. You have to rest as much as you can. You have to have more massage therapy, more stretching. And then you have to ride the bike. You have to work harder, but smarter. You have to eat properly, healthy foods, and make sure you drink lots of fluids. Get enough sleep. The list is long. Thats why it takes a lot of preparation for the game. If I can do that, theres no problem.
His extraordinary vision on the ice and his hockey sense, enable him to excel against much younger opponents. Obviously, experience helps. Ive always played with great players. And I really feel that I havent lost that much speed or my skating ability, so that gives me a chance to still play. In many ways, I think Im a better player now than I was when I was 25.
For several years, Selanne has been trying to decide whether he should hang up those high-flying skates of his. I just went one year at a time. It has been really working well for me. Before every season and all season long, I think, This is it, and try to enjoy every day and take advantage of that. And then, after the season, a month after the season, you get a pretty clear mind about how much fun it was and if youre ready to push yourself again, for the summer and the whole year, doing all the right things. It takes a lot of dedication these days.
Playing last season, Selanne was able to enjoy a triumphant return to Winnipeg, where he began his career and racked up an astonishing 76 goals in his rookie season, 1992-93. There, in Manitoba, the Jet-turned-Duck was given a heros welcome.
After pondering retirement again this past off-season, Selanne, the original Great 8, decided to come back. But he announced that this year with the Ducks would be his last. It gives him one more opportunity to serve his country, Finland, in the Sochi Olympics. In his homeland, Selanne is more than a sports superstar. Hes a true pop culture icon.
The NHL just wont be the same without Teemu. But the chant is no longer, One more year! Its One more Cup!
Selanne says, When you come from Europe, you have to grow that dream. Some young players come over here and they dont even really know what the Stanley Cup is, what is means, what it takes to win it. That became my dream. Now I want to relive that dream one more time. Thats the only unfinished business. I dont have any personal goals for myself anymore. Its just about winning. Thats all that matters.