Teemu Selanne says these will be his last Olympics--really
Of course he said that four years ago in Turin, after Finland won the silver medal and he led all scorers with six goals and 11 points.
Although he's nearly 40 he still feels like a kid when he plays with the Finns he grew up with, including Anaheim teammate Saku Koivu.
"Absolutely. Especially for the Olympics. They're every four years so they're something really special," he said after Finland practiced Monday. "And especially here in Vancouver. This is unbelievable as a hockey player, especially, when everybody just talks about hockey, hockey, hockey. That's what makes it really special--the city and the fans. It's unbelievable."
Finland doesn't have the depth Canada boasts or the explosive offense that Russia will mount. Sweden has the dynamic Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, and the U.S. might have an advantage with its young lineup.
Finland comes in as a medal contender because of its exceptionally strong goaltending. The Finns can choose among Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom, Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff and Tampa Bay's Antero Niittymaki, who was voted the best goaltender and most valuable player in the Turin Games.
"I don't like our chances if we play best of seven against top teams but it's one game and you never know what's going to happen," Selanne said. "Four days, 10 days, whoever is going to be hot is going to have a good chance."
Selanne said his broken jaw is "not bad, not what it could be but good enough to play and I'm happy about that. Too bad I have to wear the mask, but that's the smallest problem right now."
Asked whether this will be his Olympic finale, Selanne was emphatic. "Absolutely," he said. "As a hockey player."
The Olympic rings will have lost some of their luster when he leaves. Enjoy him while he's still here.
-- Helene Elliott, in Vancouver
Photo: Teemu Selanne. Credit: Lori Shepler / Associated Press