Let me first begin this post by saying that personally I believe Teemu Selanne will return for one last season and his career will end with the Anaheim Ducks. This post is to present a few possibilities and thoughts of what could happen in this critical time of the Finnish Flash's career.
As we all have heard by now, our beloved Teemu is weighing three options, all of which will be discussed in more detail later on in this post. The usual two that Ducks fans are all too used to are, of course, retirement and returning to the Ducks. Recent reports have indicated that perhaps Teemu is considering leaving the team he has played for 14 out of his 20 seasons in the nhl, including the last 9. Which of these options seems most likely? And on top of that what does each say about how Teemu is remembered? Let's take a closer look.
First up is retirement. Every Anaheim fan is dreading the day when Selanne does finally call it quits, and it will indeed be a sad day for all of hockey when he hangs up the skates for good. Now, wether or not Teemu has really lost a step on his competition is debatable, but it's a fact that his best days in the nhl are behind him. Regardless of that, there is always a spot in the nhl and on the Ducks for Teemu. For Selanne, every year has consisted of a scale of how much fun he is having to how much work it will take, and up to this point the fun side has pulled through. This season however, Teemu has even more reason than ever to retire. Just like every year before, the training regimen is more taxing than the year before, but this year that extra work comes with less reward. Every year prior to this the future hall of famer was guranteed a spot in the top 6. This year however, with all the young talent fighting their way up the roster, Selanne is not necessarily a lock for the second line and would likely see his ice time decrease more than it did in this past season. I know this must be tough to imagine for die hard fans who might even have a hard time remembering a time when Teemu Selanne was not a member of the Ducks top 6 forwards. But if you are one of those who cant imagine it, i implore you to take a look at your favorite roster creation site and just try to make room for all those NHL ready prospects while keeping No. 8 in a top 6 role. Bottom line is that it's not easy. A return to the league would likely see Teemu relegated to the third line and see him become more and more of a power play specialist. Would that role be enough to tip the scale toward retirement? I suppose only Selanne knows that.
Fortunately for Ducks fans everywhere, Teemu also has more reason to return to the Ducks this season than years prior. Last season he was returning to a team that was slated to finish toward the bottom of their division and likely miss the playoffs again. This year, most are optimistic that the Ducks are contenders. Isn't it amazing how 55 games is all it takes to change the minds of the collective hockey media? That's besides the point. Teemu said it himself "We have such a good team here right now. We know we’re better than this. I think everyone felt there is some unfinished business here. It would be easier if we didn’t feel that way. I think this team is ready to win right now." Now that seems good enough reason to come back. Give it one last shot, with probably the best chance at success since 2007. But wait there's more! This is an olympic year, and Selanne has expressed interest in playing in one last olympic games. On top of that the Ducks will be playing in an outdoor game and this will be Teemu's first and likely only opportunity to play in such an event. Yet none of this is really going to make his decision for him. The final decision comes from inside and wether or not Teemu returns will largely be decided by his energy level and how much fun he is having on the ice. Oh and Dustin Penner resigning should help too. All joking aside, if Selanne decides to return it will likely not be based on too many outside factors.
The last scenario is the one that sends shivers down the collective spines of all the Ducks faithful. Reports have indicated that, to some extent, Teemu is considering signing with another team in the NHL. The report did not give any specific team that he was considering, though odds are that the Jets are the only team with a shot at Teemu. It would be a return home of sorts for the Flash, to return to Winnipeg, the city that launched his career. Longtime fans say that Teemu could no longer consider another team because his best years and greatest success has come in a ducks sweater. In recent years this has been true, Teemu has played better for the Ducks than both the Avalanche and the Sharks, however his best season has always been that phenomenal 76 goal rookie season north of the border. Fond memories of great play isn't his only incentive. Anyone remember the first time the Ducks played the Jets after their return to Winnipeg? The city absolutely adores Teemu. A return to Winnipeg to end his career where it started is not out of the question, but it's also not likely. Teemu has a family whose lives are based in Orange County and have been for the last 10 years or so. On top of that, Teemu is in the process of opening a restaurant in Laguna Beach. All the local ties combined with the Anaheim fans that are likely the only ones who love Teemu more than those in Winnipeg, make a departure unlikely.
On a final note, I want to take a look at Teemu Selanne's legacy in the league and as an Anaheim Duck. In any of these scenarios, Teemu would end his career as one of the greatest to ever play the sport, the undisputed best Finnish player of all time and one of the leagues most beloved players. Without a doubt, Selanne will be inducted into the hall of fame the day he is eligible and he will rightly go down in history as one of the greats of the game. As a Duck, Teemu is unquestionably the best player to ever dawn the orange and gold and on top of that he is a fan favorite and the face of the franchise. Any fan can attest to his generosity, namely his willingness to sign autographs longer than any other player and his excitement to meet fans. The real question about legacy would be what would fans think if Selanne left the Ducks for his last season. The answer to that would be seen in the first game he was back in Anaheim and would likely warrant the same response that Alfredsson will get in his first return to Ottawa. I would hope that if Teemu does leave the fans would give him the same response that Jets fans gave in his return "home," yet part of me knows that for now at least ducks fans would treat him like a traitor. It would be sad and I hope we should never have to find out if I am right or not. No matter what happens and what Teemu decides, remember, he has embodied everything this franchise is about and has even delivered to his team in only 14 years what took our crosstown rivals more than 40. No matter what jersey he wears on the day of his retirement, Teemu Selanne will retire a Duck.