Selanne giving something back

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

HALIFAX -- Teemu Selanne couldn't say no to Jari Kurri.

And one last time, for old times' sake, he couldn't say no to Finland.

"It's hard to say no to a guy whose poster has been on your bedroom wall," said the fabulous Finn who became the surprise of the IIHF World Hockey Championship when he showed up here to play for his national team.

"It's the last chance I'll have to play for Finland," he said.

Selanne didn't decide until Tuesday to join the team for the first Worldsever played in Canada to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the IIHF.

Moments after his Anaheim Ducks teammates Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Kunitz left the ice at a Team Canada practice at the Metro Centre, Selanne skated on the ice with Finland.

Getzlaf and Kunitz had just been testifying how thrilled they were to be going for a gold medal for Canada the year after they won the Stanley Cup. Selanne was explaining that all he's ever won is silver medals: one at the Olympics, one at the World Cup of Hockey and one at the world championships.

He'd like to win a gold to cap his career.

When you've won the Stanley Cup the year before, you'd figure the lure of winning a gold medal at the IIHF World Hockey Championship wouldn't be that strong.

But Selanne said the chance to play for Finland again, in his 12th major international event, was impossible to turn down as he got down to decision day.

He's previously skated for his country in four Olympics, four world championships and three Canada Cup/World Cups.

"When it comes to a Stanley Cup versus a world championship, it's a no-brainer. The Stanley Cup is bigger, and tougher to win," he said.

"It's the hardest to win. But this is huge, especially to have it in Canada this year. That's one reason I decided to come here. It's about history."

"Selanne is unbelievable," said Doug Sheddon, the Canadian who coaches Team Finland.

"This is a guy who invited me to the Stanley Cup party last year when he didn't even know me yet. His showing up here has given everybody a lift. It's just great to have him here," Sheddon said of the team which brought tears to Kurri's eyes when they upset Russia and ended up in the gold medal game against Canada at the tournament in Moscow.

"It was all done through Jari," Sheddon said of the general manager of the Finns.

Kurri admitted he'd been in daily contact with Selanne.

"We kept him busy. We tried to keep him away from the golf course," laughed Kurri, the former Edmonton Oiler, Hall of Famer and member of the International Olympic Committee.

Selanne, the former Winnipeg Jet, who is absolutely one of the classiest guys ever to play the game, spent over half an hour standing on his skates in the mixed zone doing lengthy interviews with the media here from Finland before he stood there for another 15 minutes to do it all over again for Canadian media.

In either language, he was the story of the day.

"I just decided I had a lot of hockey left in me this season" said the 37-year-old who retired after winning the Cup only to rejoin the Ducks for the final 26 games of the regular season and the six games of the playoffs.

"I played 32 games. Obviously it didn't work out the way I hoped it would work out in the playoffs.

"I decided to spend the extra energy here."

Selanne hasn't played at the world championship tournament since 1993, when it was held in Finland. He just gave himself a chance to have a better final memory.

Finland, the nation most believed was the best team in the tournament and had arch-rival Sweden down 5-1, only to lose 6-5.

"It's so tough to win this tournament at home. Hopefully that will be the case this year, too," he said of going against the favoured Canadians.

"There's so many distractions at home. It's like a zoo. You are getting phone calls 24 hours a day between family, friends, and people looking for tickets.

"I understand why it's so hard to win at home.

"In 2003 it was amazing how silent that building became. It was 5-2, 5-3, 5-4 and you could almost hear what the fans were saying. It was scary."

Stuff happens at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

And yesterday, Teemu Selanne was a happening.


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