Selanne still smitten

KEN WIEBE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:01 AM ET

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Teemu Selanne is so focused on the playoff chase the Anaheim Ducks are involved in that he can't commit to his future in hockey.

What won't be disputed is his genuine love of the game and how the passion is still burning during his 17th NHL season

"I'm happy I'm still playing," Selanne said after a recent shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. "Everything starts (with passion), if you don't have it, you shouldn't be playing."

The former Winnipeg Jets sniper was happy to reflect on his early days in the NHL.

One of the obvious highlights came when Selanne smashed Mike Bossy's rookie record for goals with 76 back in 1992-93.

"It took a long time to realize what I did in my first year because it was such a roller-coaster," said Selanne, who had 132 points in 84 games during that memorable season. "Every day was a great day and I was so hungry to have success and score more and more. Everything was new and I was so excited. Right now, I think about 76 goals and it's incredible. It was just very special.

"The whole game has changed. I miss the old times."

Selanne can't think of a better way to get his NHL career rolling.

"Obviously, everything has been great and I'm so happy I started my career in Winnipeg, where hockey is such a huge thing," said Selanne. "I had a great time there and some great memories. The people were super nice there and the fans were unbelievable. When I had the success there, it felt like the whole city was behind me."

Selanne recently hit another milestone, moving past Bossy for 18th place on the all-time goal scoring list.

"Obviously, when you look at the list of players it's a big honour to be in the same group," said Selanne, who has 23 goals and 46 points in 59 games this season. "I've been lucky to play with so many great players during my career and that has helped me a lot."

The next guy on that list is former Edmonton Oilers winger Jari Kurri.

"I had his poster on my wall when I was a young boy," said Selanne, who has 575 goals and 1,204 points in 1,126 NHL games. "Obviously, he's a buddy of mine too now, so that's pretty neat. But that's far away. Let's see what happens."

When it comes to grand memories, nothing will top winning the Stanley Cup in 2007 -- especially after a serious knee injury threatened his career in 2003-04.

"That's the most special thing that has happened in my hockey career, you can't even describe it," said Selanne. "I was waiting a long time for that. It was emotional and a dream come true. It would have been tough if I would have had to retire because of the knee. Every game after the surgery has been a bonus. To win the Cup and get my wheels back is incredible and I'm so thankful for that."

While he has another year remaining on the two-year deal he signed last summer, Selanne isn't sure if he'll be back for another season.

One of the biggest reasons for Selanne to return would be to have another chance to play for his home country of Finland in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

"The Olympics were the reason I signed a two-year deal, but I want to go one year at a time," said Selanne. "When you get older, you have to be so much smarter because the recovery is so much slower."

Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said Selanne is showing no signs of breaking down.

"I wouldn't ever criticize him for a lack of gasoline in the tank, that's for sure," said Carlyle. "Passing an elite goal scorer like Mike Bossy is a feather in Teemu's cap. He's our most popular player and he's delivered in clutch situation for us."

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca


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