WINNIPEG, CANADA - DECEMBER 17: Teemu Selanne #8 of the Anaheim Ducks skates during warmup before a game against the Winnipeg Jets in NHL action at the MTS Centre on December 17, 2011 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. This is the first time Selanne has returned to play hockey in Winnipeg, where he began his NHL hockey career with the original Winnipeg Jets in 1992. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
Had the 2004-2005 lockout not happened, Teemu Selanne might actually be retired right now. Coming of a disappointing season 16 goal '03-'04 season in Colorado with BFF Paul Kariya, Selanne was in desperate need of major knee surgery. 16 goals and Teemu Selanne? Inconceivable! That shows you just how bad his knee was.
To have this surgery, Selanne would have to miss a majority of, if not all, of the '04-'05 season. He was also free agent at the time, and about to turn (gasp!) 34 years-old. The Flash looked like he was on his way out. Who would sign a player that seemed to be past his prime and may not even play that season anyway?
The '04-'05 lockout almost destroyed the NHL, but it revived Teemu Selanne's career. While the NHLPA and the owners were hashing things out, Teemu had the knee surgery and did the requisite rehab. The next step for him was finding a team to come back to; someone that would take a chance on the now 35 year-old and his new knee.
The 2005-2006 season wasn't only a fresh start for Teemu, it would be a new era for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Henry and Susan Samueli bought the team in the off-season. Brian Burke was named GM and Randy Carlyle was given an opportunity to be an NHL coach for the first time. Why not take a chance on the old guy? It was a young team and they could use a veteran right-wing. Selanne was signed to a one-year contract. He went on to score 40 goals and 50 assists in 80 games that year. Teemu was back and it was all the result of a lockout.
(Finnish) Flash forward to now. There is going to be a lockout, no doubt about it. The real question is how long is it going to last? Teemu is 42 years-old and we can't fathom what life would be like without him. I don't want to be right, but I don't think we'll see hockey until the Winter Classic on New Years Day.
If that ends up being the case, it gives Teemu a couple extra months of strength training, but no actual game play. Take a look at a breakdown of Selanne's goals and the months they were scored in since returning to the Ducks.
For the most part, he doesn't struggle too much out of the gate. When he becomes the most consistent (January - March) is usually around the time that the Ducks need to win games to get themselves in to the playoffs. His contribution is incredibly important because he is consistent when Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and/or Bobby Ryan are struggling (save Perry in 2010).
I attribute a majority of his consistency to not necessarily playing himself in-shape (dude is always in-shape), but his body and hands being up to full game speed by the time January rolls around. If that is truly the case and my theory of no hockey until the Winter Classic is correct, in the months he's usually hitting his stride, he's going to be producing October - December numbers. That isn't a big deal as long as the rest of the boys, P&G (plus-or-minus 'R') specifically, are scoring. Last season, Selanne was the leading scorer on the Ducks. It can't be like that this year if the team has any hope of making the playoffs, shorten seasoned or not.
Just to play Devil's Advocate for a second. Say the league and the PA screw up monumentally and end up cancelling the entire season. Then what does Teemu do? To my understanding, his one-year contract for the 2012-2013 season wouldn't carry forward. His kids are in school here, so I doubt he'd go to play in Finland or somewhere else overseas. By the time the 2013-2014 season rolls around, Teemu will be 43 and will have gone a year without a game. Does that make retirement more or less likely?
Of course, nothing is set in stone regarding a lockout. The only thing we know for sure is that Teemu will be here for another year. He just might be hitting the golf course a little more than the rink.