Flashing the same infectious smile Orange County has grown accustomed to seeing over the years, Teemu Selanne arrived somewhat surprisingly at Honda Center on Friday morning for the unofficial start to Ducks training camp.
Still waiting to sign a new standard player contract with the Ducks as the team diligently works behind the scenes to clear salary cap space, Selanne instead choose to sign a pro tryout agreement with the team. The one-page agreement allows the 38-year-old to participate in training camp beginning Saturday morning at Anaheim ICE and even to play in preseason games.
While the move could be considered risky for Selanne, it is a notion he quickly dispelled after running through a gamut of tests along with the rest of his teammates for physicals at the arena.
“I have been a risk taker all my life,” Selanne said. “I have been skating already six weeks and any day something could happen. I don’t want to miss the camp. I really believe that this time is very important. That’s why I did it.”
Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Burke reiterated that, “It is our goal to bring Teemu back. We’ve made progress and I’m optimistic, but we do not have a deal yet and we do not have cap space at any rate to get things done.”
Selanne’s desire to play is in stark contrast to the way he felt at this time last season when he considered retirement into January. After winning the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007, the right winger didn’t think he could mentally check back into the game. When he finally did return to the Ducks last season, Selanne felt a hunger to play similar to the way he felt after the lockout year in 2004-05.
“After the Cup, I was just empty,” Selanne said. “I really re-energized and got excited again. I think the end of last year was just teasing almost. The good thing is I’m healthy. I feel very good physically and now mentally I’m fresh.”
“I have been a risk taker all my life. I have been skating already six weeks and any day something could happen. I don’t want to miss the camp. I really believe that this time is very important. That’s why I did it.” - Teemu Selanne
The Finnish Flash is feeling so good that he also is considering the option of signing on to play not only in 2008-09 but also the following season. “The problem is if I sign one year and if I want to play next year, there might be even less money available then because not many guys have a contract next year,” Selanne said. “That is one thing that I have to remember. The good thing is I want to finish my career in Anaheim with the Ducks. That is a big thing for me. That is why a two-year deal would work better, but let’s see what happens.”
The first order of business to get Selanne signed, as has been the case, is to make cap space available. The most likely player to be dealt from the Ducks to get to that point is Mathieu Schneider, who was absent from the morning festivities. The defenseman sought and was given permission by the team to not report to training camp. Although Burke said the team has reserved the right to revoke that permission at any time, he hopes that a deal can be consummated for the 20-year-veteran within the next three to four days.
“I would say the number of teams that are in on this that have either made a proposal or said they are going to right now is five active and one on the backburner,” Burke said. “Virtually all of the deals we’re talking about include more assets than just one player. We’re looking at a full spectrum.”
As the Ducks wait for solutions to their cap woes and Selanne’s contract situation, the team is simply content having their career scoring leader around as they begin work on the new season ahead.
“We’re pretty happy to have him part of our team,” Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. “I think Teemu is obviously a great teammate. For him to start the season with us, it is sure going to help us. He’ll be able to form chemistry with linemates early on and it’s going to help us in the long run.”