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Ducks lose home finale, fans seek Teemu Selanne's return next year

He scores a goal in a 2-1 loss to Edmonton, but the Oilers' Teemu Hartikainen scores twice.

April 01, 2012|By Lisa Dillman

This may not have been the end, the final turn on Anaheim ice for Teemu Selanne. But the Honda Center fans were unwilling Sunday night to risk letting the beloved Finn skate away without sharing some emotion.

With about five minutes remaining, they gave the 41-year-old a prolonged standing ovation, unprompted by any scoreboard urgings. The applause and their message couldn't have been more clear-cut about Selanne's NHL future.

One more year.

"It's unbelievable. It's almost funny they are chanting that for an old guy like me," said Selanne, sitting in the dressing room, not long after the Oilers beat the Ducks, 2-1, in Anaheim's home finale.

Said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf: "I think we stood up too. We like having him around and we'll take him as long as he'll stay."

Still, the powers of crowd persuasion and peer pressure have not swayed Selanne from his plan of, well, not making a plan about his future until the heart of the summer.

"Obviously, I'm going to have another tough decision to make again, but I don't really know what's going to happen," Selanne said. "I'm going to stick with my plan and take some time off and see how I feel."

On Sunday, he scored the only goal for the Ducks, in fact. It was his 26th of the season and 663rd of his career and his 1,405th point. All the goals in this game were scored by players named Teemu. Oilers rookie forward Teemu Hartikainen scored twice.

The fans might be craving an answer, waiting patiently for a word or any sign about a possible decision regarding a return. But he learned long ago not to be swept away by the moment.

"I really would love to give an answer," Selanne said. "I decided already, a long time ago, that emotions go high and low during the season. So you've got to get the right feeling, and that's been happening for me like in the summertime, when it's time to start pushing and working out and getting ready for a new year."

There are many items under the heading of reasons to return. Selanne is optimistic about the future of the Ducks, and after all he is their leading scorer this season. And this time, he isn't hobbling around the dressing room.

"I still feel great, most of the nights," he said. "And obviously there's nights you don't feel that good. But like I said earlier, when I was 25 I had the same feelings. So obviously that's a good sign. I still feel I can play well and bring my strength and skill to the table."

He nearly scored again in the final seconds of the game, showcasing his vaunted speed in a late rush.

"I shake my head at him a lot. Even the last play of the game, I don't know where he came from," Getzlaf said. "But he came flying through the middle there and his skating ability and sense of the game is unmatched by a lot of people. I thought it was going to be his glory at the end there."

But it ended Edmonton Teemu 2, Anaheim Teemu 1.

"Must be good name," said Selanne said, smiling.

Hartikainen said that Selanne was "kind of my idol" when he was a child growing up in Finland. Reporters asked the younger Teemu what it was like hearing the crowd chanting his name, and the kid joked that it was pretty good.

That line was passed along to Selanne and he laughed long and hard and clapped his hands. The Oilers forward is 21 years old and he started the season with Edmonton's minor league team in Oklahoma City.

"We were talking a little bit in the faceoff in the second period," Selanne said. "Most of the kids are really young. They could be my sons. It's a big honor I can be able to still play at this level. I can play with the kids and against the kids. I'm very thankful for that."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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