NEW YORK – Age just doesn’t seem to catch up to Anaheim Ducks winger Teemu Selanne.
The 38-year-old scored six times last week as his line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry shared the NHL’s first star honour for the week after producing a combined 28 points in four games.
“I think my speed is still there,” Selanne said Monday on a conference call. “It’s not like it was when I was 22, but I use it to my advantage.
“And I still like the game and I’m lucky I still play with great players.”
The 18-year NHL veteran, who scored a record 76 goals as a rookie with the Winnipeg Jets in 1992-93, now has 560 career goals, tied for 20th place all-time with former Montreal Canadiens great Guy Lafleur.
His 1,170 points is tied with Bobby Hull for 45th all-time. And he is fourth in career scoring among European-born players behind Jari Kurri, Mats Sundin and Peter Stastny.
Selanne’s three goals in a 5-4 overtime win over Detroit on Oct. 29 was his 21st career hat trick, most among active players in the league and only two behind Kurri, one of his idols and a fellow Finn.
“I don’t know what the secret is,” he said of his hat tricks. “When I was younger, I was so hungry that when I got the first goal, I wanted another, and then I wanted the third one.
“When you get older, you’re not so greedy. I don’t have so many hat tricks in the last five or six years.”
Selanne’s scoring took a slight dip when he battled knee problems early in the 2000s, but after having the joint surgically repaired during the 2004-05 lockout, he bounced back with seasons of 40 and 48 goals, helping the Ducks to a Stanley Cup in 2007.
He thought he’d retire then, but after a few months off he signed on again last January and had 12 goals in 26 games. He inked a new two-year deal in the summer.
“Last year at this time, I thought I was done,” he said. “Winning the Stanley Cup left me so empty, mentally and physically.”
Now, it seems the fire is back.
“When you’re older, the hardest thing is your recovery time,” he said. “You have to be smarter about eating and resting.
“I signed a two-year contract, but I still take it one year at a time.”
Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was named the second star of the week, while Philadelphia Flyers winger Simon Gagne took the third star prize.
The NHL also named Washington Capitals left-winger Alexander Semin, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and Nashville Predators defenceman Shea Weber its three stars for October.
Getzlaf led all NHL scorers with 10 points (two goals, eight assists) last week, including a team-record five-assist night Oct. 29 in a 5-4 overtime win over Detroit.
Perry collected two goals with seven assists while Selanne had three assists to go with his six goals. The Ducks went 3-0-1 for the week.
“Getzlaf is unbelievable,” said Selanne, when asked about his young centre. “I don’t know if he knows it himself.
“I don’t see why he couldn’t be the best player in the league. He has all the tools.”
Thomas went 3-1-0 with a 0.99 goals-against average and .970 save percentage in four games, including consecutive 1-0 shutouts in Edmonton and Vancouver.
Gagne collected three goals and five assists in helping the Flyers to two wins in three contests.
Semin earned the monthly first star honour after leading all NHL scorers with 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) while posting a plus-7 rating in helping the Capitals go 5-3-1 in October.
Lundqvist was the second star after leading all NHL goaltenders in victories while going 8-2-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.
Weber was named third star after leading all NHL defencemen with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) and going plus-5 in 10 games, helping the Predators to a 5-4-1 start.