A few of us were pretty surprised that none of the fans we heard chanted “One more year” for Selanne at all tonight as the Ducks rallied to beat the Avalanche 5-4 after being down 2-0. The fans had plenty of perfect opportunities… Selanne scored on a penalty shot tonight to score the Ducks’ first goal. He also got a point in all five of the Ducks’ goals tonight and scored the 22nd hat trick of his career (13th as a Duck). Tonight was Selanne’s 33rd career 5 point game and he was the first player age 40 or older to record a hat trick and five points (or more) in a single game. Selanne has been truly amazing this year. He’s second in Ducks scoring and looks better than most players in the NHL.
In spite of all this, the only person I heard actually chant, “One more year” tonight was Corey Perry, teasing as he walked by the scrum interviewing Selanne and (of course) asking him his thoughts on continuing to play. At this time last year, retirement was something Selanne seemed to be seriously considering. This year, I don’t see how he could be thinking of retirement. Last season Selanne played very well, but this year he’s been truly amazing. For his part, Selanne said he’s been feeling great the whole year and he’s still having fun, which is the only reason he’s still around. He also said, “My mind goes like an elevator – one day I feel that I can play ten more years and the next day I feel why do I keep doing this? That’s why I’m not yet thinking about that during the season.” Selanne went on to say that it’s better to think about these things after the season and then asked to talk about something else.
Selanne’s penalty shot goal was the second of his career, the last one coming in Tampa Bay when he was playing for the Winnipeg Jets on March 9, 1993. I would have never guessed that it had been 18 years since Selanne scored his only other penalty shot (he’s now 2 for 6), but that’s because Selanne has been so amazing in his career and continues to stun crowds. With 6 games to go this season, Selanne is already the third highest scorer of 40+ years. Only Gordie Howe (with 103 points in 68-69) and Johnny Bucyk (with 83 points in 75-76) scored more at that age. Clearly, no one but Selanne can know what he feels when recovering for a game, but watching him on the ice, I can’t imagine how this could possibly be his last season in the NHL. (Not surprisingly, Selanne was also the top NHL performer of the day, not just tonight’s game in Anaheim.)
Since the Ducks and Blackhawks both won tonight, Anaheim maintained their position in the standings (7th place in the western conference). Clearly, every point is important at this time of the season when all the teams are so close. As Randy Carlyle pointed out, everyone other than the top couple teams and bottom couple teams is worrying about winning games to get into the playoffs and maintain their position in the standings at the time. Though four teams have secured their spots in the playoffs in the eastern conference, the Canucks are the only team completely mathematically secure in the western conference so far.