Ducks forward Teemu Selanne turned 42 on July 3. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
The lockout giveth, and the lockout (almost) taketh.
April 7, 2012. In Calgary. An otherwise meaningless game between the Flames and Ducks, two teams with nothing on the line. That could have been it, the career finale for one of the league's incandescent stars, future Hall of Fame member Teemu Selanne.
Cooler heads and one dogged federal mediator pulled the NHL season back from the brink Sunday, meaning Selanne will have the chance for a happier ending to his career.
"It came into my mind it could be my last," Selanne said Monday about that April game. "You have to be optimistic and try to stay positive and ready. ... The toughest part was when you don't know the timetable or whatever is going to happen.
"Last week, I said, 'You know what? Whatever happens, at least we know what's going on.' Coming out today and seeing the teammates and training staff, it's a happy meeting."
Selanne, who turned 42 on July 3, was talking at the Ducks' practice facility in Anaheim one day after the unofficial end of the NHL's 113-day lockout. More than most, he appreciates the twists and turns of lockout fate.
Selanne has often said that the last lockout, the one claiming the 2004-05 season, ended up adding years to his career. He had extra time to recover from knee surgery and came back with an emphatic lights-out performance for the Ducks, recording 90 points in 80 games in the 2005-06 season.
"It's funny. The last time, the lockout pretty much saved the end of my career," Selanne said. "And this time, it could have ended it."
The historically slow-starting Ducks can't afford to stumble once the shortened season opens.
"The good part for us is we usually play really well in January and February," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said dryly. "So we're hoping that's going to hold true."
Said Selanne: "It's going to be exciting. Every game is going to be like a playoff game."
Selanne was talking after a spirited on-ice session, almost like a mini-reunion of the 2007 Stanley Cup champion Ducks. Retired Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer was running the practice, which featured, among others, Selanne, Corey Perry, Getzlaf and visitor Dustin Penner of the Kings.
It was amusing to see Penner, who started his NHL career in Anaheim, wearing the Ducks logo again.
"Don't show any of this tape to Dean," Penner jokingly said of Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi.
It was suggested they could tell Lombardi the photos were doctored.
"Yeah, it was Photoshopped," Penner said, playing along.
It is likely the Kings will have their Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony at Staples Center on Jan. 19.
"It's going to be nice to get that second ring," Penner said. "And to go through the whole ceremony, raising the banner. I haven't been a part of one of those yet because I left from Anaheim and went to Edmonton.
"It's something I definitely look forward to. Hopefully [President] Obama can still sneak us into the White House."