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Selanne welcomed back into the fold

by Phil Coffey

Can the returning Teemu Selanne help the Anaheim Ducks retain their Stanley Cup title?
Teemu Selanne’s decision to return to the Anaheim Ducks certainly was welcomed news in Southern California, where he will give the Ducks a needed shot in the arm.

”It’s awesome that they gave me the chance to come in this late,” Selanne said. “Obviously, there are great teammates and great fans here. It’s awesome to part of it again.

“Earlier I thought I was going to be done,” Selanne said. “But when I started coming to the games and I saw my teammates again, I started feeling that I wanted to be part of it again. If Brian Burke had told me he needed a deadline in training camp or November, I wouldn’t be here today. I’m very thankful to Brian Burke and the Ducks that they were able to wait this long and make this all possible. We had a little baby about seven weeks, so I think that was the timeline. Before that, I wasn’t going to decide anything. I was very happy to home and spend the time with my boys and the newborn also. After that, I thought I would start skating and see how I feel. Every day I started feeling better and better. Then I called my agent and asked him to see if there was a deal available. Every thing went very smooth, so I’m very happy about that.”

Last season, Selanne scored 48 goals and 46 assists in 82 regular-season games and five goals and 10 assists in 21 playoffs games as he won his first Stanley Cup.

Selanne figures he will round into form relatively quickly because he’s in good health, but wasn’t making any predictions for hitting his stride.

Phil Coffey
Phil Coffey is's editorial director. He has covered the NHL since 1981.
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“I’m healthy, that’s the biggest thing,” Selanne said. “I know that it takes a certain time to get used to this tempo. The game shape will probably come a little later. The only reason why I came back is that I really felt that I wanted to play hockey again. That’s why I'm here. I’m not expecting to everything to happen automatically right away. You have to patient a little while, but I’m expecting to feel better every day. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

And his teammates and coaches are happy to have him back in the fold. Check out this quote from Ducks GM Brian Burke.

“And he doesn’t have bad days,” Burke told the Canadian Press in 2006. “To have a guy who walks into the dressing room in a good mood every day, that’s a very important attribute for a hockey team. You need guys like that.

“He brings sunshine with him.”

“Yeah, it’s complete,” goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere told reporters. “It’s nice to see Teemu back. Obviously he’s a great player but more than that, he’s just a great human being. It’s nice to have him around the dressing room.”

“Teemu has more of an impact from a vocal standpoint than Scotty (Niedermayer) would because Teemu’s a much different personality, a much more fun-loving outward guy, where Scotty’s kind of reserved,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “As far as the emotion or the impact or the lift it’s going to give our group, that’s something that will be judged. It’s not something you can plan on, as was Scotty's.”

Now you might think that Anaheim’s foes, especially in the Western Conference would be a little unhappy with the news that the Ducks added a proven goal scorer without surrendering any assets. But that doesn’t appear to be the case.

“If you know Teemu, Teemu’s a guy that I think last year he was really on the bubble about not playing more, especially winning the Stanley Cup,” Detroit’s Dallas Drake told reporters. “Same with Niedermayer. They got away from playing for a while. They realized how much they missed it, and Teemu loves to play. Why not give yourself another chance to win a Stanley Cup? He’s got all the right in the world to come back if he wants.”

“Every team has the responsibility to win, and I think they should be able to do it however they want to,” Wild winger Brian Rolston said. “In these respects, I’m sure they were talking all along that it was going to take this long for them to come back. I don’t think it’s an issue. Especially with the character of the two players in question.”

Getting older and better -- Dominik Hasek is one of those rare athletes who seems to defy aging. One of the reasons he has been able to keep going long after many others have called it a career is because of his ability to change his habits as he got older.

“Before I used to come like half an hour or 20 minutes before practice and just dress and go on the ice,” Hasek told the Detroit Free-Press. “Now I come in an hour or 75 minutes early to get ready and do warm-ups. That’s something I haven’t done up until I became 40.

“Before I could eat chicken wings and pizza and cheeseburgers as much as I could, and now I care what I eat. I don’t go to McDonald’s. It doesn’t mean I don’t ever have pizza or have one or two or three beers for dinner, but I always am careful. I think what I am doing and try not to eat too late in the evening. These are the things what you have to change if you want to stay in shape at my age.”

Scary trip back -- Devils coach Brent Sutter went home to Alberta for the All-Star break, but the welcomed hours at home were tempered by a scary ride home.

Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reported that Sutter and his oldest son, Merrick, took off on a private jet out of Calgary on Sunday night, but the plane had to turn back about 30 minutes into the flight because of mechanical problems.

“The lights and everything was just going,” Sutter said. “You knew something was wrong because we got up and then we just stayed at a certain height. We had to have an emergency landing because they weren’t sure whether the gear was down or not. When we landed there were fire trucks and everything on the runway.”

Sutter admitted he was a bit nervous. “Why wouldn’t you be when they tell you it’s an emergency landing?” he asked.

But that wasn’t all. A second flight scheduled for Monday morning also was scrubbed because of mechanical trouble and a third flight was delayed. The end result was Sutter missed a practice Monday.

“I’m here and everything is fine,” Sutter said. “It was a long haul, though.”

Luckilly for the Phoenix Coyotes, Blue Jackets' all-star Rick Nash was unable to duplicate the goal
he scored against them back on January 17th, as he
was held without a point in their follow-up meeting.

The flip side -- We all marveled at Rick Nash’s tremendous individual goal against the Phoenix Coyotes ( View goal video) prior to the All-Star break, but the flip-side was how Derek Morris and Keith Ballard reacted after being schooled by Nash.

Tuesday night, both fared better in a 4-2 win in which Nash was held without a goal. Thankfully for the two defensemen, they were able to look back on being burned by Nash and laugh.

“I’ll probably guarantee it won’t happen again in this game,” Morris said prior to Monday’s game.

“Oh, geez, don’t say that,” Ballard countered.

“Well, you know he’s one of those guys who’s so hard to play against,” Morris told the Columbus Dispatch

Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky was still a little ticked, however.

“From a coach’s point of view, it ticked me off because (a play like that) should never happen at this level,” Gretzky said. “From a fan’s point of view, it’s one of the most spectacular goals you will ever see.”

Busy weekend -- New Jersey Devils backup Kevin Weekes had a busy All-Star break. He got married in Toronto.

Weekes’ new wife, Stephanie, owns an office design firm, and their respective busy schedules made the weekend nuptials the way to go.

“She’s quite busy, work-wise, and everybody values their summers, right?” Weekes told the Newark Star-Ledger. “You don’t want to impose on people. All those factors made it work out this way, and it was nice.”

Forward thinking -- Brooks Oprik got another view of life as an NHLer the other night in New Jersey. With several members of the Pittsburgh Penguins sidelined by injury and illness, Oprik, a defenseman by trade, got to play forward.

“I’ve been a defenseman since day one,” Orpik told Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. And Day One goes all the way back to his college days at Boston College.

Why Orpik?

“We figured he was the best candidate (to move),” coach Michel Therrien said. “He can skate, he’s got size.”

Why did Orpik think he got the nod to move up?

“It’s for my offense, I guess,” laughed Orpik, who had gone 172 games without a goal heading into that game against the Devils.

Therrien said the move is strictly short term.

“This is for a short period of time,” he said. “We’re not making a career change.”

Material from personal interviews, wire services, newspaper, and league and team sources was used in this report.

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