Anyone who's listened to Teemu Selanne talk about his plans for the future will not be surprised to learn that on Tuesday, the 42-year-old Anaheim Ducks forward made it clear, during exit interviews, that he would take up to six weeks to decide what to do next. The thinking Sunday, after the Ducks lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the opening playoff round, was that Selanne's NHL career might be over after 20 years – and that could still be the case.
But Selanne isn't going to rush into a decision and left the door open to a possible return, the same as he's done these past few years.
Selanne came close to retiring after the Ducks won the 2007 Stanley Cup – both he and defenceman Scott Niedermayer started the season on the sidelines – but he eventually returned for the final 26 games, and has played five seasons since then. According to Selanne, he found the demands of the lockout-shortened 48-game season far more challenging than the standard 82-game season because of the compressed schedule – and it showed in his play. Selanne was far better in the first half than he was in the second half, fatigue seemingly creeping into this game.
Nowadays, Selanne follows a regular off-season program. He and his family returns to Finland in mid-June and right around the beginning of July, he determines whether he is willing to commit again to the off-season training regimen required to play the game at the NHL level. Every year since 2007, the answer has been yes – and Selanne wouldn't rule out a possible return for next year either, citing everything from the Ducks' strength as an organization to the outdoor game at Dodger Stadium as good reasons to return.
But in the end, he will listen to his body, and believes his body will give him in the answer at some point in the off-season.
"It's a commitment with training and dedication in the summertime," said Selanne, echoing comments he made several times during the year already. "That's when you have to be ready. Like I said before, the good thing is, I don't have to play. I only play because I want to play. That's the motivation that players dream of. That's why I take some time off.
"I want to start feeling either way. Do I really want to start pushing myself again? If I don't have it, then I don't play. That's the best way to do it. After like six weeks, I'll start thinking about whether I want to start working out. Your body and your mind start missing it, and then you know what's the right decision. If you don't get that, then it's time to start doing something else."
But Selanne doesn't want to be pushed into a decision either and says in Finland, where he is something a national hero, speculation about his future is out of control.
"People think they know, and it's funny," he said. "When I go there, they just ask all the time, and I say, 'I'll tell you guys when I know.' They're impatient."