Every time Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne steps on the ice or records a point, he seems to reach another career milestone or move up on the NHL’s all-time scoring lists.
The 41-year-old Finn was poised to hit another milestone Tuesday against the Dallas Stars by playing in his 1,300th NHL game. That will make him the 52nd player in NHL history, ninth European-born player and only the second Finn — after Teppo Numminen --to reach that number. Among active players he ranks fourth, after Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom (1,535), Washington’s Roman Hamrlik (1,347), and Philadelphia’s Jaromir Jagr (1,307).
“It’s a big number, yes,” he said after the Ducks’ morning skate at the Honda Center. “A couple guys reminded me today there was some money on the board. They don’t forget stuff like that.”
While he’d be happy to win the cash teammates put up for him, he’s even happier to still be playing and to feel no problems with the knee that has bothered him the last few seasons.
“A lot of good things have happened that I can play so many games,” said Selanne, who leads the team in scoring with 39 points in 40 games. “We’re always very thankful for that.”
He said he doesn’t keep track of all the career lists he’s climbing, such as ranking 13th in goals at 651 and 22nd in points with 1,379. But reaching such a high number of games played, he said, is meaningful because it proves his longevity and ability to play at a high level for a long time.
“If you can play so many years that’s a big thing,” he said. “And still having fun. That’s good.
“It has been a more frustrating year than before but that has been my goal, to just come in here every day and try to enjoy and do what you can do and try to enjoy it as much as you can. It’s easier when you win, but still in the morning when I leave from home it’s still a happy place to come. That’s how it should be and I’m very happy it’s so.”
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said he recalled hockey observers were skeptical after Selanne broke into the NHL with a 76-goal, 132-point performance in 1992-93.
“All us guys that were retired at that point thought he would be a flash in the pan, like, ‘Who’s this guy? The new era of hockey. There’s no checking anymore,’” Boudreau said.
“But he sure has done the test of time. And he deserves everything he gets because he’s a better person than he is a player, and he’s a great player. The goals he’s gotten, from highlights that I’ve seen, from his younger days, I mean, they’re still in a lot of top 10s of best goals ever.”
Boudreau said Selanne’s ability to crisply take a pass without breaking stride or losing control of the puck remains uncanny.
“I told him today, ‘Gordie Howe played until he was in his 50s. I don’t see what your problem is,’” Boudreau said.
Before the morning skate the Ducks recalled goaltender Jeff Deslauriers from Syracuse of the American Hockey League. Deslauriers and Iiro Tarkki were the two goalies on the ice; Jonas Hiller (lower-body injury) did not skate.
“We were hoping he would be able to skate today and back up but it’s pushed back. We’re hoping the same thing can happen for Calgary,” Boudreau said of the team’s game on Thursday. “So it’s still day to day. That’s why we brought Jeff up.”
Deslauriers has played 14 games with Syracuse and is 6-7-0 with a 3.86 goals-against average and .877 save percentage.
“I’ve seen him play some pretty good games. At the beginning of last year he was stated as maybe the savior for Edmonton’s goaltending,” Boudreau said. “I don’t know what happened, but I’ve seen him play great and I’ve seen him play not so great. Let’s hope the former more than the latter.”
The Ducks also assigned forward J.F. Jacques and defenseman Mark Fraser to Syracuse and announced that Syracuse had restructured its coaching staff. Trent Yawney was appointed associate head coach and coach Mark Holick was relegated to an associate coach. Marty Wilford will remain as assistant coach.
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Photo: Teemu Selanne. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images.