An NHL without Teemu Selanne just doesn’t feel like an NHL at all. It feels cold, dark, barren, and empty. It feels like the 2010-11 Florida Panthers.
This isn’t necessarily because Selanne is still the same superstar he was when he first broke into the league in 1954 (that’s possibly off by a few years, but only a few). He isn’t, but amazingly at the age of 41 he’s not off by much. Selanne has averaged 35.4 goals per year over his 19 seasons, and he scored 31 times last year to go along with 80 points over 72 games.
That’s pretty damn good for a forward who played his first NHL game in 1992, the same year the world gave us such modern pop culture icons as Selena Gomez, Taylor Lautner, and most importantly, Kate Upton. He is the league’s bionic man, periodically missing time with injuries, but always recovering and reverting to his typical goal-scoring form.
So if he’s going to wait until September to tell us if he’s coming back for a 20th season, that’s just fine.
Selanne told a Finnish newspaper today that he’s going to hold off until the final weeks before training camp to make a decision regarding his playing status. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on June 30, and wants to wait until it’s fully healed before deciding if he can handle the rigors of another NHL season.
The 10-time All-Star spoke to ESPN Los Angeles after the Ducks were eliminated from the playoffs and said he’s not in any hurry.
“I’ll let you know when I know something,” he said.”I’ll just wait and see how I feel. I don’t have to rush.”
Earlier this week the update from Selanne’s agent Don Baizley was that there was no update. Baizley told the Orange County Register that there’s “nothing new on my end.”
Selanne knows no time boundaries, and has habitually pushed back his playing decision every summer, even when it’s abundantly clear that he’ll be on the ice in October. So take your time, Teemu. We know you’ll make the incredibly predictable right call.
In a summer that’s seen Jagr Watch, Alex Kovalev finally admitting that he’s an old man, and ill-advised negotiations with Alexei Yashin, it’s refreshing to see a player who’s broken the 40 age barrier and yet we still don’t even think about questioning his production. We know that Selanne will miss some time every year, with that advanced age making his body unable to bounce back from bumps and bruises like it once could. But it never seems to matter, because he needed only 65 games to score 27 goals in 2008-09, a total he matched in 2009-10 while playing in only 54 games.
It’s either Anaheim, or a comfy retirement on his Finland couch, and it’s been that way for Selanne for about the last five years. When he finally finishes his yearly game of will-he-or-won’t-he and decides to skate out for one(?) more season, we have one night circled on our calender: Saturday, Dec. 17, when the Ducks visit Winnipeg.
We know it’s not the same team, and these Jets are building a new history with a new identity. But it’s the same city where Selanne broke the rookie scoring record with 76 goals, and we just want to see him shoot the glove duck one more time in Winnipeg.