Even before the regular season ended there was speculation about whether or not Anaheim Ducks winger, Teemu Selanne, was going to retire. After the season ended (early for the Ducks, as they did not make the playoffs), speculation continued.
Plenty of questions and hypotheses were raised by fans and experts alike. Would Selanne, who turned 40 in July, still want to play? Would the injuries that have kept him from playing a full 82 games the past two seasons factor into his decision? Was Selanne waiting to see what GM Bob Murray would do with the team before making a decision? Was Selanne only interested in playing if the Ducks were going to be competitive? Would he retire if the team appeared to be rebuilding? Would he only play if fellow unrestricted free agent and former linemate, Paul Kariya, were signed as well?
So much speculation, so little real information.
The most recent “possible” news comes from the Finnish source, The Sports Journal. Selanne is reported as saying in an interview that he has finally made a decision to continue his career and that “negotiations are now ready to begin.”
When the Ducks organization was contacted by the Orange County Register, Finnish sources looked less concrete. A spokesman stated that a decision was close from Selanne, but had not yet been made.
Further muddying the waters is that The Sports Journal also stated Selanne had spoken to Kariya, who was allegedly waiting on Selanne’s decision.
Many Ducks fans are torn – their love and adoration for Selanne, who has to be the most amiable and fan-friendly athlete ever, is bar none. However, if Selanne comes as a package deal with Kariya, that love and loyalty might be tested. Many hardcore fans still harbor great resentment over how Kariya left the Ducks organization in 2003, after going to game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals and promising the Ducks would be back there next year, only with different results. Fans took it quite personally at the time and the idea of Kariya returning to a Ducks uniform leaves many with a case of indigestion.
For other fans, who are either less attached to their team or have figured out how to separate business from personal, there is some anticipation of the undeniable chemistry that Kariya and Selanne had when they played together for five years. If that chemistry is still there, they could produce some of the offense that the team was missing last season.
For now, fans have to wait until things are concrete. Until then, cautious optimism at Selanne’s return is called for.