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Perry All-Star bound after Selanne suggestion

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- There's no doubting the All-Star skills of Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne.

There's no questioning the caliber of his character, either.

In the midst of another age-defying season, the 41-year-old Selanne earned the opportunity to make his 11th career All-Star Game appearance but instead lobbied that teammate Corey Perry was much more deserving of the nomination to represent the Anaheim Ducks for the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game Jan. 29 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.

After winning the Hart and Rocket Richard trophies last season, Perry has 18 goals and 35 points this season, an effort which Selanne believed earned Perry a trip to Ottawa.

Besides, posed Selanne, what's the All-Star Game without the reigning Hart Trophy winner?

"The MVP should be there," said Selanne, who has 41 points in as many games this season and sits tied for 16th in League scoring. "It's better this way. Obviously we have an MVP on our team. It's better that Perry goes. Perry was MVP last year and it's important that he's there."

"I'm an old guy, that's one thing. I've been there many times. Honestly, I think it's a young player's great opportunity. Perry was MVP last year. He's the man."
-- Teemu Selanne

Selanne's unselfishness may have caught Perry off guard, at least momentarily.

"It surprised me but that's the way he is," said Perry, who leads the Ducks in goals. "He's a guy that if something else comes up for somebody else, he's going to help them get there. That's what he did."

With the possibility that this is Selanne's last season, Perry said he'll make sure he appreciates and takes full advantage of the opportunity.

"He says it could be his last year and his last kick at the All-Star Game," Perry said. "Near the end of his career, it means something to me and shows what kind of guy he is."

Bruce Boudreau isn't so sure the game is Selanne's last opportunity to skate among the League's best. The Ducks coach said it wouldn't surprise him to see Selanne delay hanging up his skates.

"His love of the game and every day he comes to the rink with a smile on his face, it wouldn't surprise me," Boudreau said. "Nothing he does surprises me."

Perhaps that factored into his decision to pass the selection to Perry. Selanne called the move a simple decision and that it was a "young man's turn" to enjoy the spectacle.


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"Oh yeah, it was easy -- very easy," Selanne said. "I'm an old guy, that's one thing. I've been there many times. Honestly, I think it's a young player's great opportunity. Perry was MVP last year. He's the man."

Boudreau only smiled when told of Selanne's noble act, and then talked about the quality of player -- and person -- Selanne is.

"That just goes to show what kind of guy Teemu is, sitting there saying, 'Corey Perry, Hart Trophy winner should go,' " Boudreau said. "That's what he brings to the team every day and maybe that's one of the reasons he's lasted 21 years."

Thanks to the Selanne suggestion, the 2012 affair will be Perry's third trip to the All-Star Game. It will be extra-special with the event close to home, he noted.

"I'm excited," said Perry, who grew up about four hours southwest of Ottawa in Peterborough, Ont. "I got a lot of family, my dad's side is in Ottawa, so it's going to be a homecoming for me. It'll be special."

He added that dinner at his expense likely was in the cards for Selanne's gesture, especially given the proximity of the event to Perry’s relatives.

"I'm sure I'll talk to him about something," Perry said.

Perhaps the biggest reward Selanne will get is the opportunity to enjoy a much-needed break spent with his wife and four children. That doesn't mean he'll avoid the rink altogether, though.

"My kid's going to have some hockey tournament," Selanne said. “I think it's important I spend time at home, too. I'm looking forward to it."
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