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Ducks' Teemu Selanne plans to focus on recovery in shortened season

The 42-year-old right wing says how he survives the compact NHL season, which includes several back-to-back games, will dictate whether he decides to retire.

January 26, 2013|By Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times
  • Ducks' Teemu Selanne takes a breather during practice
Ducks' Teemu Selanne takes a breather during practice (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

The almost annual Teemu Selanne retirement watch will exist again after this season, the Ducks' right wing now 42 and confessing he'll be making concessions to a tightened schedule that includes 17 games in March.

Selanne opened the season impressively, scoring two goals with two assists in Vancouver on Jan. 19.

He started Saturday night's home game against Nashville at Honda Center one power-play goal shy of 250 in his career, and now sits in 18th place on the NHL's all-time scoring list.

The Ducks (2-1) were hopeful to quickly wash away the sting of Friday night's 5-0 loss to Vancouver, in which they surrendered three more power-play goals to increase their worrisome total to seven. The game against the Predators was in progress at press time, and full postgame coverage can be found at latimes.com/sports.

For Selanne, tests such as back-to-back games are worth monitoring now.

Friday was an incredible high for the veteran. He was feted to the most rousing ovation by the standing-room-only crowd at introduction.

But the season march is relentless, and there was also reason to get up for the test of Nashville 24 1/2 hours later.

"Especially off the ice, you've got to rest," Selanne said, noting that he plans to also indulge in "recover stuff" such as ice baths, massages and stretching. "You've got to make sure you're getting enough fluids. This year is going to be different.

"Even when you feel good, you don't want to overdo it, because it's going to catch up with you somewhere."

Amid some strong speculation that this will be it for Selanne, he said how he survives the season will dictate his off-season decision on returning or retiring, winking he's keeping "his options open."

"I expect to know at some point how my body's holding up, and how much I enjoy this," Selanne said. "So far, it's been quite easy. I know I can play. I usually wait a month after the season to decide, and every time I feel like, 'It's time now.' So that's good. This is a hobby still."

Selanne said he feels he "hasn't lost much."

"But now it's a game that's about the recovery. So far, I've been able to play well in the back-to-backs. I haven't really got that, 'I'm burned out …' I hope to keep doing that, to recover like the young guys."

Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau has said straight-faced that Selanne is the greatest 42-year-old athlete in sports, and front-line captain Ryan Getzlaf cracks Selanne may be in the NHL longer than the 27-year-old center.

The veteran brings a can't-miss charm and enthusiasm to the Ducks' locker room, an everyday symbol of how a professional should go about his business, with "passion for the game, wanting to keep up with the young guys.

"I just hope I can stay healthy, enjoy it and play well," Selanne said. "I know what I can do for this team, so hopefully I'm going to do it.

"I play because I enjoy this game."

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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