Teemu Selanne’s decision to play another season in the NHL will depend in part on … Paul Kariya?
Selanne said Tuesday that he’s interested to know if Kariya would return to Anaheim after missing all of the 2010-11 season with post-concussion symptoms.
“Obviously all the years that I had with Paul, it was just unbelievable,” Selanne said. “I talked to him yesterday and we’re going to meet next week. We didn’t even talk about injuries yet but I want to talk to him about how he’s doing, what he’s thinking and maybe go surf with him.”
Kariya had 300 goals and 669 points in 606 career games in Anaheim, before leaving as a free agent in 2003.
Kariya, who turns 37 in October, had 18 goals and 43 points for the St. Louis Blues in 2009-10, his last season. He remains the longest-serving captain in franchise history (eight seasons) but would need to negotiate a jersey number – Bobby Ryan was unceremoniously given Kariya’s number 9 in 2009.
There will be other factors in Selanne’s decision, too.
“It was just so much fun this year,” he said. “That’s all that I really ask. It’s not about goals or points, or anything like that. Before the season I hope that I can every day enjoy this. That’s my goal.”
Here are some insights Selanne offered Tuesday in what may have been his final interview as an NHL player:
He returns to Finland in June. He usually begins to prepare for the upcoming season on July 1. “Until then, I can pretty much do whatever. … I know it would be best for everybody (to make a decision) sooner than later. There’s no pressure, though.”
He’s not good enough to golf full-time.
Whether or not the Ducks can contend for a Stanley Cup next season is a factor. “The good thing about (Bob Murray) is he wants to win. … That’s great news for every player in this organization.”
On the Ducks’ season-opening games in Helsinki: “It sounds pretty exciting. I know that people there are very excited about it. When they heard that Anaheim was going to come there, they were really, really happy. … I’m going to be there either way.”
On the importance of chasing records (he’s fifth all-time in game-winning goals, tied for sixth in power-play goals, 14th in goals and 27th in points): “Not much right now. It’s just a nice little compliment.”
Asked if he can repeat his production of 2010-11, when he was one of only 15 NHL players who averaged more than a point per game, Selanne said, “I don’t see why not. … If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be playing anymore.”
If he retires, Selanne said he would be at peace his career ending now. “I think so,” he said. “I tried to play like I left everything there. That’s how you should play anyway, every season. You can’t just win the Stanley Cup every year. That would be awesome, but it doesn’t work like that. I really believe we had enough tools to go further, but we lost.”
If he comes back, it will be in Anaheim. “I haven’t thought about having a chance to go somewhere else,” he said. “This is my place for sure.”
There’s no ambiguity about the fact that Selanne’s teammates want him back. So does his general manager.
“He’s just too good to quit and I’m going to do everything in my power to keep him here,” Murray said.
That may include a call to Kariya.