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Selanne's son Eetu carving own career path

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- As one of the most prolific scorers in NHL history, Teemu Selanne casts a long shadow.

His son is determined not to get caught under it.

Fifteen-year-old Eetu Selanne is hoping to carve out his own career in hockey but understands there's an added pressure with the famous surname on the back of his jersey.

"It helps me in ways, like where people are going to come see me more because of my name. But it's also pressure because people are expecting a lot of me because of how good my dad is," said Eetu, who is attending a rookie camp with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League.

His name intrigued Hitmen head scout Dan Bonar, who made sure to add Eetu to Calgary's 50-player protected list earlier this year.

"Bloodlines is always a good thing, I think," Bonar said. "It doesn't guarantee anything, but one thing it does guarantee away from the rink is that you get an opportunity to play hockey at a pretty good level. You do get the opportunity to talk to your dad about things, about the game. If he has any questions I'm sure he would ask Teemu, 'What do you do in this situation?' There's a huge benefit in that."

Bonar made it clear the name on the back of Selanne's sweater wasn't the only reason he was invited Calgary's camp.

"It's nice, but really he's here on his own merits," Bonar said of Eetu. "He's come a long way, which I give him credit for. He's here on his own merits, his own game. The fact that his dad is Teemu, that's a bonus for him."

The younger Selanne made sure to take advantage of his bloodlines, spending his summers training with his 43-year-old father. That training led to improvements in his game that put him on the Hitmen radar.

And when it comes to training in the Selanne household, the adage "Like father, like son" certainly rings true.

"I train the same way he does," Eetu Selanne said. "He helps me go through all the steps that are required to improve a lot. It's competition. I'm not exactly beating him yet. I'm trying to get there. I can totally see all the improvement that I've got from it. It's very good."

Bonar saw the improvement in Selanne's game too. Though Eetu doesn't quite look like his dad zipping around the ice, the younger Selanne has a chance to carve a career in hockey.

"I saw Teemu when he came to Winnipeg and [Eetu] certainly doesn't skate like Teemu yet, but he'll get there if he's willing to do the work," Bonar said. "He has a tremendous opportunity in front of him to be a good hockey player."

Whether the opportunity takes him the major junior route or to college remains to be seen. But Selanne seems to have an ambition to play in the WHL.

"It's a great program," the 5-foot-10, 170 pound forward said. "I see that players that improve the most usually come from this league because it's one of the top junior leagues you can go to."

Teemu envisions a collegiate career for his son, though Eetu's path could come down to the influence of Ducks teammate Ryan Getzlaf.

The Anaheim center is a former member of the Hitmen and has helped educate Teemu about the benefits of playing junior hockey in Calgary. That advice could help influence Teemu when it is time to make the decision.

"He would like me to play college because he thinks even if I don't make it as far [as the NHL], I can still get a good education and play at the same time," Eetu Selanne said. "But he also likes how the Calgary Hitmen do their program after talking to Ryan Getzlaf about it, because he gave him a lot of advice about the program and how it works."

If Selanne does not join the Hitmen, he could continue a successful high school career in California. Eetu and his older brother Eemil were part of the Santa Margarita Catholic High School team that won a California state title and the 2013 USA Hockey High School national championship in March.

Eetu Selanne had a goal and two assists in three games at the national tournament. The brothers are listed on the current roster for Santa Margarita's 2013-14 team; Eetu would be a sophomore and Eemil is a junior.

Whichever route Selanne takes will be unique from his father, who was groomed in the farm system of Jokerit in Finland. Teemu played parts of six seasons in Finland before joining the Winnipeg Jets for his Calder Trophy-winning, record-setting rookie season in 1992-93.

For the moment, Eetu's road is undecided.

"I don't know yet, that's why I'm here [in Calgary] trying to see the opportunity to see what it's like," he said. "Hopefully, if I make it, I'll think about it and see how it goes on."

The opportunity could give Eetu Selanne the opportunity to begin carving out a hockey career of his own.

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