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Selanne certainly doesn't play like a 40-year-old

Wednesday, 01.26.2011 / 2:21 PM / Finnish Story of the Week

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

When most NHL players reach 40 years of age, their days of being major offensive contributors are behind them.

Don't tell Teemu Selanne that, however.

As the All-Star break brings a pause to his 18th NHL season, the 40-year-old Selanne is having another campaign that most players of any age would yearn for.

In 43 games, Selanne has 45 points -- tied for 19th in the League. His 1.05 points per game average is ninth, better than All-Stars Loui Eriksson, Eric Staal and Alex Ovechkin. His 30 assists and 45 points are second on the Ducks, and his 15 goals are third.

He's also climbing the all-time lists with every point. He's currently 32nd on the all-time scoring list with 1,305 points. If he stays on pace for 75 points this season, he'll pass Gilbert Perreault, Pierre Turgeon and Mike Gartner and move into the top 30 by season's end.

His 621 goals are tops among active players and 15th all-time. He's four goals away No. 14 Joe Sakic, and if he stays on pace for 25, he'll finish 2010-11 nine shy of No. 13 Dave Andreychuk's 640.

So will there be a 19th season in 2011-12 for Selanne? If he's still performing at an elite level, why not?

"After the season it's time to think about it," Selanne said earlier this season. "In a lot of ways, when I think it's going to be my last year, like I've done the last four years, I try to think this is going to be it and I try to enjoy every day. I'm not going to leave anything here. That has been really good for me.

"But I think this is it."

Selanne considered retirement before, most recently after he helped the Ducks win the Stanley Cup in 2007. He sat out most of the 2007-08 season, but since then he's kept coming back. He had 27 goals each of the last two seasons, and he's on pace to get there again. And if he hits that 75-point number, it'll be his most since he had 94 in 2006-07.

Thanks in part to Selanne's strong play, the Ducks have rallied from a rough start to enter the break fifth in the Western Conference.

"It's amazing that the 40-year-old can continue to score goals at the rate he has," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "Teemu's one of those guys who has to find his 'happy place.' We all don't know what that means, but I think I figured it out -- when he's scoring, he's happy.  We just like to keep him in that place. So far, he's made a huge contribution to our hockey club early in the season."

Selanne said it's not the goals that keep him happy, it's the feeling that he can still play.

"The time is when you don't enjoy coming to the rink anymore," he said. "So far, it's been fun. If you still think you can play at this level and you can succeed here, that's my theory. But obviously I'm 40, so you know it's going to happen sooner or later. So far, I'm really enjoying coming here and playing, and that's all that matters.

"I still feel like I have a lot of jump. The thing is, if I feel like I can't really use my speed or the things I have been doing over the years, there's no reason to play. I still think I have the good jump and that's why I'm still playing."

New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said he didn't see a 40-year-old when he was in net as his club visited Anaheim on Oct. 29.

"Even though he's 40, he skates like a guy who's 22," Brodeur said. "He's a true goal scorer. He finds the areas on the ice, he pick-pockets guys. You definitely have to watch what you're doing when he's around."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com
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