Every evening he suits up for a game these days, 43-year-old Teemu Selanne
has a memory or two or three come flooding back. That's what happens when you spend 21 seasons in the NHL and you're only five games shy of playing in your 1,400th career game.
On Thursday, the player called the Finnish Flash will fondly recall past visits to Montreal, where his friend and current Anaheim teammate Saku Koivu enjoyed so many good times. On Friday, he'll be in Ottawa to play the Senators, the team the he and the Anaheim Ducks beat for a Stanley Cup championship in 2007.
On Tuesday, in a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs
at the Air Canada Centre, there was Randy Carlyle standing behind the opposition's bench, his old coach when Selanne celebrated his only Stanley Cup 6 ½ years ago.
"I have so much respect for him and we won the Cup together," Selanne said of Carlyle on Tuesday. "There's great memories. I'm so happy to see him doing well. He really deserves that. But it's not a surprise for me. He's a guy that made average players play better. He expects guys to work harder every day."
Carlyle was still a player when he expected Selanne to work hard the first time they met 25 years ago in Moncton, where the Winnipeg Jets held training camp before the 1988-89 season. Selanne was 18 and his first reaction upon seeing Carlyle was who was the nut playing without a helmet.Carlyle tough on Selanne
Selanne returned to Finland that fall to complete his military training and when he arrived back in Winnipeg in 1992, Carlyle was in his final season. He gave his young teammate a rough ride.
"He wasn't my best friend," Carlyle said. "I was kind of hard on all the rookies, and he was a rookie. I felt that there was a certain way that those players had to make their mark. They had to earn it."
Selanne did. He scored a NHL rookie-record 76 goals and won the Calder Trophy. Carlyle, a Norris Trophy winner, lasted only 22 games and retired that season.
"I was on my farewell tour and I was the only one who knew about it," Carlyle joked.
The speculation has been this season is Selanne's farewell's tour
. But nobody really knows. His final chapter appeared to be written a decade ago. He played in pain with knee problems when with the Colorado Avalanche in 2003-04. His production had dipped to a then career low 16 goals.
But the 2004-05 lockout, that cancelled the entire season, allowed Selanne to undergo three procedures on his knee. All of a sudden he was his old self at age 35.
"The Finnish Flash was back," said Carlyle, who was in his first season as the Ducks head coach in 2005-06. "We were very fortunate to have that in our lineup. The place he wanted to play was Anaheim.
"It's amazing that he still has that extra gear. He has a change of pace, a stutter step, that catches a lot of people flat footed. He's an all-around tremendous athlete besides being a good person. When you're a coach and you get to be around people like that, you're very, very fortunate."
Here are Selanne's career numbers and where he ranks all-time, a month into what could be his final season.Games played
- 1,395 (tied for 33rd)
- 678 (11th)
- 758 (40th)Points
- 1,436 (15th)Power-play goals
- 252 (3rd)Game-winning goals
- 108 (fifth)
Selanne doesn't seem to be slowing down. Although the Maple Leafs held him in check on Tuesday, he was coming off a three-game goal-scoring streak to become the oldest to do so since Gordie Howe scored three times in his final NHL season at age 51 from Oct. 31-Nov. 6, 1979.
Selanne always has had fun at the rink. Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul, who played with Selanne in Anaheim, remarked that he learned plenty for his older teammate. Lupul liked the way Selanne treated the Ducks support staff, the fans and his teammates.
It's no wonder the Finnish Flash continues to flourish at his advanced age. Selanne not only had a three-game goal streak, but a five-game point streak snapped on Tuesday. Here are his career totals versus the seven Canadian clubs (games--goals-assists--points).
Vs. Edmonton 81--48-42--90
Vs. Vancouver 74--40-48--88
Vs. Calgary 74--39-43--82
Vs. Toronto 34--12-14---26
Vs. Montreal 23--7-17--24
Vs. Ottawa 24--11-10--21
Vs. Winnipeg 13--9-7--16
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