I know it's been a minute, Paul, but The Hockey News' Rory Boylen's musings about the return of Peter Forsberg got me wondering what you've been up to. I remember you saying you'd like to take a year off to rest from concussion symptoms. I also know that your time in Anaheim is primarily responsible for your time now. Who could forget this cheap shot from Chicago's Gary Suter that went unavenged. I wanted to take this time to apologize for all the undeserved treatment you've gotten since you left. However, Arthur has done good work trying to stand by the facts of the situation. I'd like to take this opportunity to convince you to come back.
Let's face it Paul, the Ducks need you right now. People will point to the recent success and the pending return of Getzlaf as a sign that we are in good shape heading down the stretch. However, I have serious doubts about our second line. It's a definite that Selanne and Koivu play well together and are having solid seasons. Koivu needs 23 points in his last 30 games to reach that 50 point plateau, not good odds, but he's been so valuable as a leader that his secondary scoring has been, well, secondary to his other more invaluable contributions.
My real concern is Jason Blake. He seems to think he can put the puck through the goalie's chest. I've never seen it work, but maybe he'll make it happen eventually. Anaheim fans love him because he skates hard and goes into the corners, but he takes shots when he should move the puck to one of his linemates. Worse, he refuses to put the puck into the pads. If you're on the ice with a good finisher, why not use your shot to create rebounds?
It's not that Blake hasn't been good on that line, it's that the line can't reach it's full potential with him on it. Blake is the Steve Rucchin of this line. Yes, he contributes and does good work in the corners. If he could do that and be more creative with the puck, like Koivu, this line would be terrifying. You know who could do that, Paul? You. Blake would be fine on the fourth line, and Sexton should be logging 17 minutes a night in the AHL instead of 5 here.
I know you still have that frightening backhand, and deceptively heavy shot. I know you and Selanne are still best friends and will be able to find each other all over the ice. I'm not going to say you owe it to a generation of Anaheim fans who don't remember all of this. I will say that the NHL would love to see the return of the most dynamic scoring tandem post Gretzky-Kurri.
It was fantastic hockey. It was fun to watch, and it kept us on the edge of our seats for too few years. If I said that you and a top 4 defenseman were the only thing between the Ducks and a magical playoff run, would you come back? A new generation of Ducks fans is waiting for you to come back and wipe clean the past. It's been almost 8 years since you left. We're ready to welcome you back and apologize. All will be forgiven and forgotten after that first charge through the neutral zone, after that first unbelievable pass, after that first goal celebration with your nonchalant fist pump. Anaheim is where you belong. It will be the story of the year. I know you have the legs and after all this time off, your head has to be feeling better. The rest was good for you. Kariya to Selanne is a phrase that too few Ducks fans remember. Please Paul, consider coming back home.
Finally, I'd like to say I'm sorry. When Selanne came back after the lockout, no questions were asked. Anaheim fans never asked the most obvious question: Who influenced whom? Selanne, too, chose to sign a contract that said Avalanche. The history somehow read that the evil Paul defected and took Teemu with him, treating it like a kidnapping. We should have at least entertained the idea that you went to play with your best friend in Colorado, or that you are both grown men that evaluated actual offers and strategies for the impending lockout.
The reasons don't matter anymore. It sounds ridiculously sentimental, but I enjoyed hockey before Selanne came to Anaheim and the time you two played together made me realize how special the game really was. As a selfish fan, I want to see that again. Selanne's legs can't hold up forever. There's time for you to come back this season and influence this team. You can give Selanne a great memory before he hangs them up, or maybe convince him he has one more year in those legs. Anaheim needs to have those times burned into their memory. It was the most exciting hockey the Ponda Center ever saw. If this didn't convince you, I still want to take the time to say thank you. Disney put you through hell, but you still played hard. You made a ridiculous franchise respectable. You should come back and let it say 'thank you,' the right way.