Does Selanne's Return Make the Ducks A Stanley Cup Contender?

By Steve Palumbo

In the video Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne posted to announce his return he joked that his middle name was “one more” as in “one more” season before calling it a career. For the Ducks, “one more” means “one more” crack at bringing the Stanley Cup back to Anaheim.

According to the Los Angeles Times Selanne’s one-year deal is worth $4 million and the future hall of famer is expected in camp on Friday.

Stats alone cannot justify just how important the 41-year-old is to the Ducks. Selanne is approaching his 19th NHL season and his 13th with the Ducks, he has become an icon for the sport of hockey in California, the Ducks and Orange County. One more season in Southern California could be just what Anaheim needs to regain their Stanley Cup glory.

Riddled with injuries for the last several seasons it looked as though his age had finally caught up to the 41-year-old Fin but he bounced back to record his highest point totals since the 2006-07 season, the first and only time Anaheim has won the Cup. Selanne finished eighth in NHL scoring with 31 goals and 49 assists in just 73 games. His 80 points were also the highest point production for a player in their 40’s since Gordie Howe had 103 in 1968-69.

Despite the outstanding offensive numbers it’s what he was able to do late in the season that truly personified what he means to the organisation and it’s fans. During the Ducks late season siege on the playoffs and their subsequent grasp of home ice advantage, Selanne came alive and carried the team.

Selanne scored back-to-back game-tying goals against the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars that led to overtime victories and four crucial points. He then picked up a hat trick and five points in a win over the Colorado Avalanche. He followed that feat up with a late goal to beat the rival Los Angeles Kings in a crucial game. His 5 game-winning goals were second on the club only to Corey Perry’s 11. As if that wasn’t good enough he scored the game-tying goal four times in the final three minutes of the third period, an NHL record for one season.

Without Selanne, the Ducks probably would have found themselves on the outside of the playoff picture.

In the playoffs, Selanne added six goals in Anaheim’s first round loss to the Nashville Predators. He outscored the the Ducks top regular season goal scorer Corey Perry, 2 to 1. Perry is also 15 years Selanne’s junior.

Selanne has proven time and time again that age is just a number and with the Finnish Flash back in the fold the Ducks could find themselves returning to the post season with a legitimate chance to contend. If this truly is his last year an ubber-motivated Teemu is a scary concept for opposing NHL goalies. There would be no better way for Selanne to go out than with another Stanley Cup hoisted over his head and if your a Duck fan, hang on. This could be one (heck) of a ride.

The Ducks are scheduled to open the 2011-12 regular season in Selanne’s homeland of Finland with an exhibition game Oct. 4 against Jokerit in the Finnish Elite League followed by the regular-season opener against the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 7.

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