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Ducks' Selanne savors Stadium Series experience

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- One of the more endearing sites of practice Friday for the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series opener at Dodger Stadium was 43-year-old Teemu Selanne bringing his daughter, Veera, out on the ice.

Selanne also had sons Eemil, Eetu and Leevi on hand for the family skate portion of the practice, and it wasn't really surprising that Teemu was the last off the ice at 8 p.m. PT.

"Obviously, it's so much fun to bring our own families to skate after our practice," said Selanne, still in all his hockey gear while leaning on the visitors dugout. "They're also going to remember this for a long time. They like it. They thought it was really cool and exciting."

The game Saturday (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS2), the first West Coast regular-season outdoor game in NHL history, was, along with the 2014 Sochi Olympics, a big incentive Selanne considered when he decided to come back for one more season.

"I knew that this was going to be something really special for me, and something that I haven't dreamed about facing before," he said. "As a whole package, with the Olympics and the team we have here in Anaheim, it was so much fun to even think about this year. So far so good, but obviously other big things are still happening."

Selanne's game might have seen a drop at times this season. Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau has rested him on the road in back-to-back games and given him fourth-line minutes. But Selanne's enthusiasm hasn't waned, and it's events like these that bring out the kid in him.

Selanne said the last time he skated outdoors was on the riverbed in Ottawa several years ago, and perhaps when he was playing for the Winnipeg Jets early in his career.

He echoed other players' thoughts that the ice was slightly soft but quite impressive for an outdoor rink in Southern California. Selanne has played in the area for a long time but Friday was the first time he visited Dodger Stadium.

"This is something, especially here in Los Angeles, [that's special]," he said. "If somebody would tell me 10 years ago that we're going to have an outdoor game, that would really sound crazy.

"It's a big thing. The last 10 years, the hockey has really exploded here. The Kings and Ducks have done a great job to make this bigger here."

As Selanne spoke, the stadium speakers were blasting and he was the only player still out on the field.

"I try to enjoy it," Selanne said. "Obviously it's different for me than other guys. This is a one-time chance. Every day, I know this is my last year, so I try to enjoy every moment, and this is one of them."

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