The Ducks took part in their morning skate on the day that five more players were selected to Olympic rosters.
The ageless wonder, Teemu Selanne, was named to a record-tying sixth Olympic Games roster, matching Finland’s Raimo Helminen (1984-02) for the most tournament appearances by a men’s hockey player in Olympic Winter Games history. Also representing Finland will be defenseman Sami Vatanen, who was one year old when Selanne made his Olympic debut in 1992.
Also selected were Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry for Canada, and Jakob Silfverberg for Sweden. They join Cam Fowler (USA) and Jonas Hiller (Switzerland) as the Ducks who will compete in Sochi, Russia next month.
“It’s a big honor, and we all know how important the Olympics are,” said the 43-year-old Selanne. “It’s great to go play for your country again, especially when all the best players are there. Every Olympics is very special. But, to play in six is a big honor. We all know how important it is, and how big of an event it is. That’s what really makes it more special.”
Selanne says it’s even better having six of his teammates selected to Olympic rosters. “We have a really good team here, and it’s going to be exciting to play against your teammates. It’s a dream come true for everybody. I’m so happy that NHL players can do this. It’s a great experience.”
His fellow countryman Vatanen will be making his Olympic debut next month.
“It was my goal, coming into this season, to make the Olympics,” said the 22-year-old defenseman. “Now I get the chance to play there with those guys and represent my country. It’s a big honor to play with Teemu. We play for him.”
Vatanen got the media laughing when he said it might be Teemu’s final Olympic Games. “You never know. He’s been waiting to retire, but we’ll see.”
Getzlaf and Perry will be playing in their second Olympics after winning gold with Canada in 2010.
“It’s an exciting day for myself and the guys in this room,” Getzlaf said. “I’m looking forward to that tournament and being a part of this team.”
Perry says expectations are always high in international competition. “Everybody knows what Canadians expect from their hockey teams. Anything but gold is unacceptable, and that’s the way we look at it. We want to go out and prove to ourselves that we’re still the best country in the world.”
Silfverberg will be making his Olympic debut with Sweden. The 23-year-old has international experience, having represented Sweden on four previous occasions. He won silver at the 2011 World Championship and bronze at the 2010 World Junior Championship. The Gavle, Sweden native last appeared for his country at the 2012 World Championship in Helsinki and Stockholm, earning two assists in eight games.
“I’m very happy and excited,” he said. “I feel very honored and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Silfverberg said he knew it was going to be tough making the team after not being on the summer roster. “You always have to believe in yourself, but I wasn’t on the summer roster so I knew it was going to be tough. I knew I had to prove to the coaches and myself that I really wanted to make the team. You always have to believe in yourself if you want to make it happen.”
KOIVU DECLINES OLYMPIC INVITATION
Four-time Olympian Saku Koivu will not be participating in the 2014 Olympic Games after withdrawing his name from consideration.
“Physically, I won’t be where I want to be when the tournament comes in,” he said. “It was a dream for me to be there, but the older you get, you have to stay honest with yourself. I felt, for me, considering everything, it’s a better option of not going, and getting proper practice time, a bit of a rest, and where we are as a team, hopefully we have a chance to do something in the playoffs. It wasn’t easy at all. I’m hoping I made the right choice.”
Koivu said the Finnish coaching staff understood his decision to withdraw. “I spoke to the coach just before Christmas, and I spoke with him when I first came back from the injury. Then, I spoke to him on Saturday. He knew where I was coming from. He was disappointed because he would’ve liked to have seen me there, but he understood.”
Koivu dispelled any rumors regarding his decision.
“We had a really good conversation, so there were no hard feelings. I already heard some speculation or if there was some sort of problem with anything. There’s no truth to that. It’s exactly like I said in the statement to the Finnish Federation. I just don’t feel, physically, that I’m going to be able to play at the level where I want to play when you play in the Olympics against the best players in the world.
“For me, those couple of weeks of rest and more training is what I need.”
Anaheim and Boston conclude a two-game season series tonight at Honda Center. In the series opener, the Ducks lost a 3-2 shootout decision to the Bruins on Oct. 31 at TD Garden. Anaheim is 10-9-6 vs. Boston all-time, including a 4-4-4 mark in Orange County.
Defenseman Cam Fowler says he expects both teams to be ready when the puck drops tonight. “Both teams are playing really well right now, so you’re definitely going to see a good matchup tonight. It’s going to take all 60 minutes. The last couple games, we’ve put 40 or 45 minutes together, and we’ve had the character to pull wins out. But against some of the best teams, you need to put a full 60 minutes together to be successful. We need to make sure from the drop of the puck tonight that we come out ready.”
Adds head coach Bruce Boudreau, “Right now, they’re the best club in the East. It’s going to be a real challenge for us to match their size and strength. When it comes to big games, Boston is always there. We’re coming off an emotional game, and hopefully we can get it back up to that level again.”