After 70 games this season, Teemu Selanne leads the Ducks and is ninth in overall NHL in scoring with 81 points. His 41 goals place him third in the league, trailing Tampa's Vincent Lecavalier who has 46 and Ottawa's Dany Heatley who has 42, in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy as the National Hockey League's leading goal scorer. On Sunday he tallied two goals as the Ducks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 and it marks the seventh time in his 14-year career that he has scored 40 or more goals, the most among active players.
He spoke to the media during an NHL conference call Tuesday afternoon.
Q. Thanks for being on with us today. I'm wondering if you ever remember when you look at the eight teams right now that are in the playoff spots in the Western Conference, if you can ever remember where all eight teams, they all have a good shot at going to the final.
TEEMU SELANNE: You know, you never know what's going to happen in the Playoffs, and when you play so many times against one team, anything is possible. That's why Playoffs are so important and exciting.
But I think all eight teams have a really good shot. I don't think there's one that is more of a favorite than others. It's going to be an interesting race.
Q. As a follow-up, you are the one sort of contender that didn't really add anything at the trade deadline. How do players react to that inside the room when you see other teams adding guys and you guys didn't do anything?
TEEMU SELANNE: I think, you know, it was bothering us a little bit a couple weeks before the deadline. I know there were a lot of guys a little worried about what was going to happen. But I think it was a big relief for everybody that we realized that we are still all together.
Obviously the last to sign, O'Brien, he's a really good young and talented defenseman. But other than that, the guys stayed here, and I think that's a really good sign because the fault when we started last year, everybody accepted the roles and we did the job together, and we had some tough times, and I really believe that the healing process started when you have tough times, you have to trust each other, you have to turn this whole thing around together. We still have all those guys here, and I think that's very important that you have that chemistry and good family feeling in the team. You know, it's a good feeling here.
Q. Could you explain your rejuvenation the last two years?
TEEMU SELANNE: Well, it's quite simple. Obviously I'm healthy. That gives me a chance to play at the level where you can play and use my speed and the tools that I have.
I think secondly, obviously I'm very lucky that I am able to play with the great players over the years. It really has helped me a lot.
You know, a couple years, tough years, when you can't use your speed, you're hurt, you can't play at the level. I think it's just you just lose so much passion and fun of the game. When I realized I got all those things back, I'm just so happy, you know, and the passion is back and I'm really enjoying every day coming to the rink and everything. I think that's why I'm so excited. All those things together, it makes just a big difference.
Q. If I could just follow up, how much did you doubt in your lowest point that you'd ever be a 40-goal scorer again?
TEEMU SELANNE: You know, I decided when I went into surgery, I knew it was going to be a long road and obviously it was going to take some luck to save my career. I decided, you know, if this knee is not going to be as good as I want, I can't play. There's no way I'm going to play that level that I played a couple years because it is a waste of time. If you can't have the passion, the enjoyment that you had when you started when you were a little kid, it's not worth it.
I knew it was going to be a long process and I was just so happy to realize that I can skate pain-free and I can do the normal things.
Q. Three months ago your team was 25-3-6, which suggests that you were a very, very dominant team, then the injuries started hitting. My question is now even with Pronger and Marchant still out, the way your team has played lately, is your team playing as well as it was at that dominant point in the season?
TEEMU SELANNE: I think it's pretty close, but I still think that early in the season we were playing unbelievable well. I always believed that everybody has to go through some tough times, and I think, again, it really helped this team. You know, it's a healing process, what you have to do. It's so important that you stick together and you find a way to turn the whole thing around, and that's what they're teaching us.
Now I know we have a good stretch home, we have a lot of games at home, so this is the final confidence boost for our team before the Playoffs, and that's why I really look to this stretch is going to be very, very important.
Q. I was talking to Dan Wood this morning, and he said that when you scored the 40th and 41st the other night in Vancouver, making you the oldest guy to score 40 in back-to-back seasons, it was kind of a mixed feeling on your part. Could you explain that a bit? Do you feel old or do you feel rejuvenated?
TEEMU SELANNE: The way how he asked, I feel like I have to be pretty old (laughing). They're just numbers. I'm very happy, I'm very proud that I can do those kinds of things at a little older age. But like what I was telling before, like when you find the passion back and you get the enjoyment back and you're healthy, you feel like you're like 20 or whatever, physically, it doesn't matter how old you are. Often times when you get older you're going to lose that passion a little bit and you don't get so excited anymore.
But obviously maybe the injury was good for me. You know, I just was reborn again, and I really enjoyed the time when I can play healthy and pain-free and everything. Those are things you don't appreciate so much when you're healthy and you don't have to face those problems.
Q. This question is probably out of left field, but I'm wondering what you think about it. Recently when the NHL announced that the Ducks and the Kings would open the season in London, England, next year, Bill Daly mentioned perhaps you might see teams from Europe competing for the Stanley Cup. Do you ever see that as a plausible thing, the NHL expanding to Europe, given that there are some new arenas in different places and certainly the passion for the game?
TEEMU SELANNE: You know, I think that's a possibility, but I don't think it's going to happen very soon. It's tough obviously with the schedule and the traveling and everything. But, you know, obviously it is good experience for the guys to go play in Europe.
I was with the Ducks in Tokyo, Japan, in I think it was '98. It's tough to go over there with the jet lag and everything. After all it was a nice experience and everything. You never know, I think there's a lot of really good teams and cities who would like to be involved in NHL. But it's still hard to really look at a reality thing in the short-term future.
Q. How do you think the fans - let's just take Helsinki, for example, the arenas, the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki. How do you think people would react? The tickets are a little more expensive for NHL than I think they are for European club hockey.
TEEMU SELANNE: Well, I think to go watch great hockey, I don't think it matters how much it costs. But obviously back home there is a problem right now that there is too much hockey going on. There's so many league games and then all the exhibitions with the national teams and tournaments and everything. So I think that's why people sometimes get a little overcooked, because there's so much hockey there right now.
Q. Anaheim has the most shootout losses in the Western Conference and second-most in the NHL. Those are points that can kind of be the difference between getting you guys as the first overall. Can you give a reason why your team hasn't been very good because you have a lot of skilled players?
TEEMU SELANNE: I don't have really one answer for that. Maybe one thing, I don't think we have practiced that very much. But on the other hand, even if you practice, it's never the same situation when it happens in a game. It's funny, you know, it's just one of those feelings that if you don't feel comfortable as a team to go in a shootout, but I personally love it. Even my record is not great, but still, I think it's just great. I don't have one answer for that.
Q. Have you found over the last couple of years that the teams, if not your team, are placing more emphasis on it, looking at more film, doing more breakaway drills at practice?
TEEMU SELANNE: That's one thing, I don't know if our team really realizes how many points we have lost because we don't really... maybe we practice three, four times in the whole season, and I don't think that's enough. Actually we have been talking about having a shootout team for our hockey club, at least once a week go and practice those because you have to practice those. If you want to get better, that's the only way you can do it.
Q. You've got a rookie from the Winnipeg area there, Dustin Penner, your neighbor in the dressing room, and he group up watching you and idolizing you. Can you talk about the relationship there and Dustin as a player?
TEEMU SELANNE: I think it's a great story about his career, how he has climbed up in this level. He has all the tools to be a great player in this league. He has size, he has speed, great hands. He's a great guy, too. We always talk about Winnipeg. He's from a little town, Winkler.
It's funny that he was watching my games. Actually at that time I started feeling pretty old in this dressing room, guys that were nine years old when they were watching me play hockey. But he's a great example how far you can go when you believe in yourself, you have fun, you work hard, and this kid is going to have a really bright future in this league.
Q. He jokes that he could challenge your rookie goal record if he had 150 games or so.
TEEMU SELANNE: (Laughing) I don't think so. I don't think that's enough games.