|“It was a great way to finish my national team career,” said Selanne. “Now I’m back here, and it’s also a good feeling. We have a great team here, and we have a mission. |
Just days removed from wearing another Olympic medal around his neck, Teemu Selanne
was back in Anaheim this afternoon focused on his day job.
Selanne took another day off from practice (as did fellow Olympians Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry) as he recovers from the trip back from Sochi. But his focus has turned from leading Team Finland to a bronze medal back to helping the Ducks make a push another coveted prize – the Stanley Cup.
“It was a great way to finish my national team career,” said Selanne, who was named MVP of the Olympic tournament after scoring two goals in a victory over Team USA in the bronze medal game. “Now I’m back here, and it’s also a good feeling. We have a great team here, and we have a mission. Hopefully the break will be good for our players. They can regroup and be ready for that last push. It’s gonna be fun.”
Selanne said he soaked in every waking moment of his last (we assume) Olympic experience, one in which he earned a fourth medal (three bronze and one silver) and finished as the leading scorer in Olympic history.
“The Finnish national team has been a very happy place for me. All the success that we have had is something very special. Every time we go to these tournaments where all the best players are playing, nobody expects us to win anything. But we always surprise people. We know we can compete against the best teams and best players, and we did it again. I’m very proud of that.”
Team Finland played probably its best game in the battle for the bronze last Saturday against Team USA, trouncing the Americans 5-0. Said Selanne said of that domination, “We just wanted it more.”
“You don’t get this chance very often, and that’s what I tried to remind my teammates there,” Selanne said. “Our dream was to win the gold, but bringing the bronze back is something unbelievable. We just wanted it more than the USA.
“I told my teammates on the first day, I’ve known some of these guys for years already, and that’s our strength. There is no adjustment time, and everybody seemed to jell right away. I always said, if somebody takes us lightly, they’re going to be in trouble.”
Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, part of that losing USA team, told reporters that Selanne had actually apologized to him in the postgame handshake line, which Selanne confirmed today.
“I felt sorry because he’s a great guy and he deserved it also,” Selanne said. “He had his parents there, and they were so excited and nice people. I’ve won medals in the past, so in many ways I hope he’ll win something.”
The 43-year-old Selanne has played a little under 14 minutes a night this season for Anaheim and has typically been held out of the second of back-to-back games. But he played a much more primary role on Team Finland as team captain and a staple on the first line and first power play unit.
“I really enjoyed every second of it, and I was hoping it wasn’t going to end,” he said. “The role I had there brought the passion into my game. Hopefully I can use that here too.”
Selanne realizes that with the depth and talent on this Ducks team, the circumstances are changed.
“Here it’s a different story,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of great players on this team, and I think they’ve dealt the cards already, so it’s a different situation. But you know what, everybody has to do their best. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing two minutes a night or twenty minutes.
“I know what I can do, and I’m professional player who can accept any role. This is my last year and I know whatever way I can help, I want to do it.”
Selanne will likely be back on the ice tomorrow for the Ducks, who return to game action Friday night against the Blues.
“It’s good to be back, take a couple of days off and get back on the ice,” he said. “I think everybody is ready to start pushing again.”
And while it goes without saying that Sochi was Selanne’s last Olympics, he couldn’t help but make a tongue-in-cheek reference to the 2018 Games as he walked away from the group of reporters this afternoon.
“There’s always South Korea!” he said.