Teemu Selanne uses a cinematic touch to announce his retirement – but only after one more season, which he hopes brings an Olympic medal and a Stanley Cup.
Swallows in San Juan Capistrano and ground hogs in rural Pennsylvania can relax.
Teemu Selanne will not threaten their streak.
The happy returns are over, he said Friday. This is goodbye. Formally. Officially.
After 82 more games, of course.
Plus playoffs and Olympics.
He has broken it to us as gently as he can. The night the Ducks won the Stanley Cup, Selanne stood in a Honda Center corridor, still in full uniform, and said, you know, this might be a good time to go out.
That was 2007. Now he enters his Seventh Final Season, although he never has made it as definitive as he did Friday. In fact, he even put it on videotape, in one of the funnier methods anyone has ever used to commemorate his future.
Selanne, 43, and the Ducks’ marketing department began having fun with his hockey addiction some time ago. He began announcing his annual return on Facebook.
Then, last year, he was featured in a skit staged at the desk of Ducks’ media and communications director Alex Gilchrist.
In this version of The Office, media and communications manager Lauren O’Gorman threw some papers at Selanne and said they had to be expedited by 3 p.m.
“Forget this,” Selanne said, flinging a pen. “I’ll go back and play hockey.”
But this one was special, primarily because Selanne became Spielberg.
“Everything about it was his idea,” said chief marketing officer Aaron Teats.
Selanne staged the video at Coto de Caza, his home golf course. Nick Cooley and Peter Uvalle of the Ducks’ entertainment department came out with the cameras and sound equipment.
We first see Selanne driving errantly from the tee and muttering some Finnish epithet. Then he fruitlessly stirs up sand, and then shanks an iron shot into the water. Outraged, he flings the club overboard and then his bag. But as he pats his pocket, he realizes his cellphone is being soaked.
Teemu wades into the hazard and recovers his phone, which remarkably still works (must be a Nokia product, made in Finland).
From there he calls Ducks general manager Bob Murray and says he’s coming back.
“But this will be the final one,” he said.
Selanne is a much better golfer than that, of course.
“But it was good acting,” he said.
Was that the first time he ever waterboarded a disobedient club?
“Yes,” he said. “And it felt good.”
It certainly does.
The backstory is that Selanne didn’t know he was returning when he made the video.
“I approached him a few years ago and he wasn’t interested, because he hadn’t made his decision yet,” Teats said. “But I told him that if he did retire, there was absolutely no way that video would ever see the light of day.
“Normally he would do it before he left for Finland, and then he would always come back and decide to play again. The difference this time is that he did it after he came back. And he had the script and the scenario all figured out. He really does have an appreciation of what he means to the fans here.”
For those fans, each wordless week grew more ominous. There were plenty of reasons for Selanne to quit.
He would be dealing with a short off-season, although not as short as he’d preferred, since the Ducks lost in the first round to Detroit.
He also had been marginalized somewhat in 2012-13, with 12 goals and 12 assists in 46 games. His ice time was down to 15:42 per game, and he scored only three man-advantage goals. In the Detroit series Selanne scored a goal in Game 1 and that was it.
Selanne was lukewarm about Bruce Boudreau’s line-switching, and he was handicapped by the Ducks’ league-worst failure to get on the power play.
But, Selanne said this was not his toughest decision. He feels healthier than 12 months ago, and Boudreau told him that he would not be just a spear carrier on a team that added Dustin Penner and Jakob Silfverberg up front.
Mostly Selanne was moved to douse the dull ache of the Ducks’ uninspired Game 7, especially since it piggybacked a surprisingly good regular season.
“I think we can go all the way,” he said. “If we had gotten farther in the playoffs maybe it would be different, but I didn’t want to go out that way.”
And there was the carrot of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, which will be Selanne’s sixth. Countryman Raimo Helminen has also appeared in six Olympic ice hockey competitions. No one has done seven.
He will return to finish a farewell tour that will resound through the continent and beyond.
Thoughtfully, Selanne has even left gift ideas; a video camera, a megaphone and a clapperboard will work just fine.