Finnish superstar Teemu Selanne says he’s willing not to ever play again even if that means having to retire if the National Hockey League loses another season to a lockout dispute.
Selanne, who is in his third NHL lockout, says he will do whatever is necessary to ensure the long-term health of the game, including missing the whole season and ending his glittering 19-year career which has seen him score over 650 career goals.
“I would like to play more but if I don’t then I am still the happiest camper,” Selanne told AFP at a joint Ducks/Kings practice skate at Anaheim Ice Arena.
“I am thankful I am able to play for such a long time and enjoy this game for such a long time.
“I don’t have to play one single game any more. That’s why I feel this is not about me. It is about the future of the hockey."
The 42-year-old Selanne remains hopeful they can play some games this year but he says if the owners and players’ union don’t get a new collective bargaining agreement by the end of December then the entire season will be lost.
“If they don’t get something done by the third week of December it is really bad,” Selanne says. ”December is the do-or-die month.
“There hasn’t been real pressure for them [owners] until now. You know if this goes the whole month of December there will be no season.
“For me it looks like there is already a plan to play 55 games starting in early January. But if something goes wrong in the end, then the cost will be high."
Selanne, dubbed the Finnish Flash, says he remembers older players making sacrifices during the last lockout season in 2004-05.
“It is time again to look out for the future of this business of being a hockey player,” Selanne said. ”It is not about one or two guys. It is frustrating but it is about the future.
“If you look at the last lockout and what kind of players’ careers it cost -- Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Adam Oates, Vinny Damphousse. They are unbelievable players.
“Those guys were there for us, the younger players. They sacrificed their seasons for us.”
Selanne says he thinks Washington Capitals defenceman Roman Hamrlik was being “selfish” when he criticized NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr’s handling of the lockout in a Czech newspaper.
“I am surprised it came out. I feel his frustration,” Selanne said. “It is not about one or two guys. It is about the future. I feel like my job is now.
“If you look at our careers, and Hamrlik’s career too, we all got way more than we ever dreamed so I think it is so selfish to think about your own things right now.”
Editor's Note: The original version of this story contained a misspelling in the headline. This version has been corrected.