WINNIPEG - Itís a subtle reminder that heís on the business end of 40.
Teemu Selanne, elder statesman and second-leading scorer of the Anaheim Ducks, left the practice ice early, Wednesday, after tweaking his groin in a game a few nights before.
At his age, you donít want to take a chance. Those million-dollar legs donít heal quite as fast as they used to.
ďThatís what Iím scared about,Ē Selanne, only half-joking, said over the phone. ďSo far, I havenít felt that old. And Iíve been lucky with these kinds of injuries.Ē
If all goes well, Selanne will be back in action when the Ducks host the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, Friday, possibly adding to the eight goals and 14 assists heís put up so far this season.
In a world of tweets and sound bites itís kind of heartwarming to see this Finn still flashing the talent we first witnessed 18 years ago.
After knee problems threatened the former Jetís career early this decade, heís been reborn since the lockout, a broken jaw last season notwithstanding.
ďWhen you reach 40 years old the recovery time is a little longer than when youíre young,Ē Selanne acknowledged.
That didnít stop him from potting 27 goals in 54 games a year ago, continuing the remarkable goal-every-other-game pace heís been on since the lost í04-05 season.
The broken jaw, though, came within a skate edge of forcing him to hang íem up.
ďLast year when I got hurt I thought for sure Iím done,Ē he said. ďBut when I get healthy, this is so much fun I canít stop.
ďIíve already said five times that Iím going to retire. But nobody believes me anymore.Ē
I guess that makes him the Brett Favre of hockey.
Actually, Selanne might be able to shed some light on the NFL quarterbackís constant change of heart about playing one more year.
ďI just think it will be the last one ó thatís how I can motivate myself the best way,Ē Selanne said.
But, yeah, he figures this will be it. For sure, this time.
ďYou never say never.Ē
A FEDERAL CASE?: I see the Saskatchewan government is asking the feds to foot the bill for about a quarter of the cost of a proposed $430-million indoor playpen for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Rider Nation figures between $86 million and $108 million from Ottawa should do the trick, and we can only imagine how thatíll go over on Parliament Hill.
The feds could only throw $15 million our way, and that cash can only be used to improve recreational facilities at the U of M, not to actually build the new Bomber stadium.
I donít want taxpayers funding shrines to millionaire athletes, either. The suggestion out of Quebec City a while back that Ottawa pay for the bulk of a glitzy new ice palace, for instance, was a joke.
But new stadiums for the CFL, where the average player salary might be $70,000, where three teams are community-owned and where even private owners do well just to break even?
Seems to me three-down football, which is only played north of the 49th, is as much a part of this countryís heritage as maple syrup and beavers.
Not that Iím suggesting we fund domes, coast to coast.
But doesnít a federal contribution in each CFL city make some sense?
Why canít the big thinkers in Ottawa see past their neighbourhood election booths and do some long-term game-planning, earmarking a certain amount of seed money to get projects going as the need arises?
The CFL probably does more to unite this country than any sporting endeavour, short of the occasional Olympic Games, and how much you think we spent on that?
Was the party in Vancouver/Whistler worth it?
Sure it was.
So is a vital CFL.
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