Let’s be honest. The 42 year-old, Teemu Selanne, isn’t getting any younger and he could’ve easily hung up his skates in 2007 when he hoisted his first Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks — leaving the game in on-top fashion. Now, as the lockout wipes out a third of the NHL season, Selanne is on the brink of calling it quits.
I’ll be the one that’s going to state the obvious; it’ll be unfortunate if a future hockey hall of famer had to go out like this.
There’s so much more to the current standstill than just the dollar figures and contract stipulations. Veterans that are in the tail end of their career are left with the decision of whether or not they want to continue playing when hockey season starts up again.
Selanne has continuously showcased fans why he is nicknamed the Finnish Flash and is defying time in the process. Unfortunately, the moments fans will remember of Selanne are what they can recollect of him during a horrible performance by the Ducks last season.
Selanne is willing to play another year — to possibly end his career, at the least, making the playoffs. Now, as of last Wednesday, he is strongly considering retirement:
“A lot of times when I drive to the rink here and I know there’s only four of five guys skating, I’m thinking, ‘Right now, I’d like to call and say I’m done. This is enough right now. I’m old enough to do something else and not play with the kids.”
Any normal hockey fan could see this coming, but nobody wishes that a player end their career prematurely as a result of a lockout. Of course, if your a Ducks’ fan or have had the honor of meeting Selanne, you instantly gather that he is a positive person — hands down a class act — and it shows in his logic:
“I have played so many games, so many years. This is not a big thing for me. If I have to retire like this, I’m still going to be a happy camper. But this is a sad way to go out, this way.”
If you asked me which athlete in all of hockey, even in all of sports, do I admire the most it would be this guy without a doubt. Writing this article isn’t making me the happiest camper either — it actually has brought on a few tears — but it’s the dreadful reality. A player who when he got traded to the San Jose Sharks, I cried so hard I had to call my mom at work to tell her the news and even made a collage of all of the newspaper articles regarding the trade. A player who I plastered all over my bedroom walls instead of of boy bands or teen heart throbs. A player that my ex-boyfriend named our dog after, as a fool-proof plan for me to like the dog. And a player I’ve met on several occasions, who was never selfish, and always willing to take pictures and sign autographs without hesitation.
It’s bad enough that I’m already in denial that his retirement is around the corner, but to get the heads up that I won’t be able to cherish his last year in a Ducks’ uniform, to save the ticket from his last game, to witness more milestones in his career or to converse with him one last time after a game or at a charity event is heart wrenching.
All of those memories and more will be capped off with a bitter taste in my mouth if he retires this year. It may sound selfish, but if Selanne retires now, I will feel like I got robbed of a season and he too has every right to feel the same. Selanne deserves to go out on his own terms and not one that’s being dictated by a lockout.
Any hockey player, especially one of Selanne’s caliber, doesn’t deserve this as his farewell to the sport he loves.
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