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Ducks open camp dealing with book by Selanne

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Teemu Selanne played his last game for the Anaheim Ducks last season, but he was the main topic of conversation when the Ducks reported for training camp Thursday.

Anaheim general manager Bob Murray and coach Bruce Boudreau spent the first portions of their media sessions defusing some pointed criticism that reportedly surfaced in Selanne's book regarding the forward's playing time.

Boudreau, Murray and captain Ryan Getzlaf chalked it up to Selanne's frustration at the end of his two-decade career at 43.

"Nobody likes hearing anything negative about themselves in anything," Boudreau said. "So in that sense I was a little disappointed. But I understand the frustration. You have to understand when he said those things it was right after Game 7 (of the Western Conference Second Round Series loss to the Los Angeles Kings). I can see the frustration was [with] everybody.

"When you're a great player your whole life, you want him to want more and to be the best guy and everything else. I understand where he comes from. I didn't like to hear that in a book, but I understand and I'm sure it was in frustration."

Selanne admitted as much in a statement released through the Ducks on Thursday evening.

"In the book, I tried to explain honestly what happened last year. In frustration, I made several comments following our Game 7 loss to the Kings that I shouldn’t have said," Selanne said. "As I’ve said many times, Bruce is a nice guy, but we simply had a different view on my role with the Ducks. I’m sorry if I hurt Bruce or anyone else, that was not my intent."

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Murray shrugged off the comments in the book "Teemu," which reportedly included the lines "It would have been wrong if we had won the Stanley Cup with coach like that" and "You are as good as your coach wants you to be. If we had any other coach, I'd still be playing."

Murray and Boudreau said the organization talked with Selanne at the beginning of last season to define his role, which would include sitting out the second half of back-to-back games. Boudreau said he told Selanne he would be a second-line right wing to start and they would see how it worked.

As the season progressed, Selanne repeatedly voiced his displeasure as his ice time dipped. During the regular season, he averaged 14:05 per game, then 12:17 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He finished with nine goals and 18 assists in 64 regular-season games.

"It's Teemu," Murray said. "He was frustrated last year. We all know Teemu. He's such a competitor. His last year didn't go quite the way he wanted it to go and we knew he was frustrated at the end of the year. Just Teemu being Teemu."

Selanne didn't hide his disdain for his smaller role, particularly after he was the Most Valuable Player in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where Finland won the bronze medal. It came to a head when he was scratched for Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round against the Dallas Stars and confronted Boudreau.

Boudreau acknowledged it was a delicate balance handling a superstar in his final season but said it was done for the "benefit of the team at the moment." He said he was always cognizant of Selanne's stature and what he meant to hockey in California.

"He was one of my favorite guys and I've always liked him and admired him," Boudreau said. "I don't think anybody here has ever heard me say a bad word about him -- ever. And that will continue."

Murray said, "You always back your coach. You have to back your coach."

Selanne reportedly also criticized Getzlaf for not expressing enough support for him to Boudreau and Murray. Getzlaf struck a diplomatic tone Thursday.

"I was disappointed to hear that, and obviously I'll have to talk to him about it as friends," Getzlaf said. "But Teemu had numerous discussions with me last season and the season before, for that matter. As a captain, it's my job to kind of weed through things that I can go to the coach with and talk to, and things that I can't.

"Teemu doesn't know all the discussions that I've had about him in the last two years. There's been many times where I've went to bat for him, and there's some times where I have to step away and just let the coach and the GM make the decision. That's part of my job as well. I get the good with the bad."

On Thursday morning, a Ducks spokesman was trying to reach Selanne in Finland to see if Selanne wanted to clarify his remarks, which were translated from the book. The Ducks are scheduled to retire Selanne's No. 8 on Jan. 11, the first of their players so honored.

"I was a little bit surprised in the way he did it," Getzlaf said. "[Teemu's] left a pretty big legacy, and in hockey for that matter. The last thing you want to do is put a burn on that. [Teemu's] an emotional guy. He's a passionate player. I'm not surprised at the words he said, because I heard a lot of [them] before, but I didn't expect them to come out in a book like that. Most of that stuff is locker-room talk, and frustrations coming out."

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