If Teemu Selanne is looking for help in making his decision to play another season, the sell-out crowd of 17,266 at Honda Center on Sunday made their choice quite clear.
Fans who chanted "One more year!" after Selanne scored the Ducks' lone goal in their 2-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers did it again as they gave him a standing ovation with 5:02 remaining in regulation, and another during a post-game on-ice television interview.
Even the linesman got into the act, delaying dropping the puck to allow the ovation with five minutes left to continue.
"It has been working for me very well. I've been so honest with myself. Even if I feel, like 90 percent [ready], I can't do it." -- Ducks' forward Teemu Selanne
The 41-year-old Selanne might have played his last home game as he is undecided about returning for a 20th season.
"It's almost funny that they're chanting that for an old guy like me," said Selanne, who was still in his skates while talking with the media.
"But it's great. Obviously there's a lot of respect for our fans. I've always had a very special relationship with the fans … It's an honor to hear that. Obviously I'm going to have another tough decision to make. But like I said, I don't really know what's going to happen. I'm going to stick with my plan and just take some time off and see how I feel."
The Ducks have three games left, all on the road, to close the season. But if this was his final game in Southern California, Selanne gave the home fans one final treat. He scored his 663rd goal, one behind Philadelphia's Jaromir Jagr for No. 11 on the NHL's all-time list. He also had an assist, giving him 1,405 points, No. 19 all-time and four behind Dale Hawerchuk.
Selanne has contemplated retirement each season since the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, and in the past week he restated that he will make a decision in the offseason. He said again Sunday that he will listen to his body in a few months.
"That's the time you have to decide if you're ready to push, because it's a long, hard process," he said. "It has been working for me very well. I've been so honest with myself. Even if I feel, like 90 percent [ready], I can't do it."
"I still feel that I can play well and I don't think my strength and skill is [decreasing]."
If Teemu Selanne is looking for help in making his decision to play another season, the sell-out crowd of 17,266 at Honda Center on Sunday made their choice quite clear. (Photo: Debora Robinson/NHLI)
At the beginning of this season, Selanne said he felt this was his final season. But in the second half he has maintained that he still is having fun, and it's not as if Selanne is slowing down. He leads Anaheim in scoring with 64 points, including 26 goals. Reigning Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry is second with 58 points.
Selanne scored the Ducks' goal at 14:12 of the first period, tipping a a cross-ice pass by Niklas Hagman through the feet of Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney and past Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk to complete a nice cycle play.
"It's a joke," said Whitney, a former Anaheim teammate of Selanne's. "He can definitely play another three years. He's so fast and quick and in such good shape. He's one of those guys that's blessed with everything."
Selanne had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds of regulation when he darted down the left side and put a shot on Dubnyk.
"Last shift -- he almost scored against me," said fellow Finn Teemu Hartikainen, 21, who grew up idolizing Selanne. "I was the last guy. Oh my God, he's a fast guy. He's really fast. [I'm thinking] 'Don't do it. Don't do it.'"
"To give up one, I'm glad it was him [Selanne]," Dubnyk said. "I don't think he has any reason to go anywhere unless he wants to. He's certainly one of the most dangerous guys in the League that I've seen."
The man known as the Finnish Flash will have at least three more games to show off his amazing skill set. After that, though, it's all up to Selanne.