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Ducks end season with a win, with big decisions looming

After missing playoffs, Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer expect to make decisions soon on whether they will retire. Ducks endured shaky start and retooled defense.

April 12, 2010

Teemu Selanne waved to the crowd of 16,392 after a 7-2 victory over Edmonton at the Honda Center on Sunday, but it might not have been goodbye.

The Ducks' season ended short of the playoffs in a year some thought they could contend for the Stanley Cup. Now begins the wait to see whether Selanne or defenseman Scott Niedermayer will retire.

"I have a big decision to make," said Selanne, who scored the 606th goal of his career and heard chants of "one more year" from the crowd.

"It's both sides. I would like to be more with the family and do things you don't get to do. Same hand, you only have one career. So far I've been thinking I'll keep playing as long as I'm enjoying this game."

He began this season expecting it to be his last, but that feeling has shifted.

"Even two months ago, with the injuries, I thought the hockey gods were telling me, ‘It's time,' " he said. "But the last two months have been so much fun."

Selanne, 39, finished with 27 goals in 54 games — a 40-goal pace — but missed time because of a broken hand and jaw. He said he'll probably take a couple of weeks to make a decision.

Niedermayer, the Ducks captain, said he won't delay long.

"It'll be quick," said Niedermayer, 36, who like Selanne has been weighing retirement since the Ducks' 2007 Stanley Cup championship.

"You think a lot about the pluses and minuses of playing the game and not playing," Niedermayer said. "It probably comes down to just a feeling you have."

Making a decision that would allow management to plan for next season is "important to everybody," Niedermayer said. "No one enjoys going through this."

Not much was enjoyable after the Ducks won only seven of their first 21 games. They pulled back into contention only to fall out again after losing their first five after the Olympic break, when eight Ducks competed in Vancouver.

"We are way too good of a team to miss the playoffs," Selanne said.

Management tried to bolster the Ducks' offense last off-season by signing Joffrey Lupul and Saku Koivu. But neither started strong, and Lupul played only 23 games after a back injury and complications after surgery. Koivu finished with 19 goals after a strong finish.

What undid the Ducks was their defense, a unit that had to be rebuilt after Chris Pronger was traded to Philadelphia largely because of salary issues and Francois Beauchemin signed with Toronto. Nor did the Ducks get the goaltending they expected early from Jonas Hiller and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who was traded to Toronto along with his big contract.

"When you lose players of the caliber of a Chris Pronger and Beauchemin off your back end, it's going to have some form of an effect," Coach Randy Carlyle said.

General Manager Bob Murray has backed Carlyle. Carlyle is entering the final year of his contract and Murray has two years left, and extensions aren't expected for either yet.

"This team was not ready to play, for whatever reasons," Murray said. "I understand we definitely have to look at the way we do some things. Why do we get off to such bad starts? And what about special teams? They have not been good. Why? There are some questions."

The biggest question is how a team with eight Olympians and two sure-bet Hall of Famers in Selanne and Niedermayer is staying home for the playoffs.

"It's still hard to swallow when you believe you have a better team," Selanne said.

Etc.

Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller left the game in the second period because of back spasms…. Center Ryan Getzlaf (sprained ankle) and Todd Marchant (strained muscle in his side) did not play.

robynnorwood@verizon.net

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