Ducks' Selanne happy

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Teemu Selanne has no doubt he would have been very happy as a Maple Leaf.

It's just that the two-time free agent knew in his heart he'd be happiest paddling in the Pond again with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Selanne, a one-time 76-goal winger who had fallen off the NHL map prior to the lockout, has 26 points in 31 games. He was one of many stars linked to the Leafs last summer when the league's extraordinary free-agent market opened.

Selanne had a connection to general manager John Ferguson through John Sr., former GM of the Winnipeg Jets. At $1 million US this year, Selanne would've been cheap, too, coming off reconstructive knee surgery and a disastrous 32-point season with the Colorado Avalanche.

"I always kept my options open and there's no reason I shouldn't play here (in Toronto), too," Selanne said yesterday at the Air Canada Centre. "But it didn't get serious this time, because I knew I wanted to go somewhere where I'd be happy and back the passion I once had."

"It was a safe choice. Everything was (in Anaheim), my home and the organization I had played in for six years. It's a great feeling when your passion is back."

Selanne insisted there was no truth to stories that he and ex-Ducks pal Paul Kariya were shopping themselves as a free-agent package, as they did to the Avs in the summer of 2003.

"We did not talk about that because I didn't even know if I was going to play," Selanne said. "When I went for knee surgery after the World Cup, I'd decided I wasn't going to play hockey at all.

"Skating is my game and if I can't do that, I'll do something else. I didn't know how good my knee could be, but everything has worked out wonderfully."

The 35-year-old has found the new NHL much to his liking.

"It's the way it should be," he said of the wide-open play. "If someone is faster than you, you should be rewarded with a chance to score."

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle is ecstatic with the addition of Selanne.

"He felt -- and we felt -- he could play at a higher level than he did in Colorado," Carlyle said. "He has kept up his end of the bargain."


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