HALIFAX – Now that he’s got that Stanley Cup ring out of the way, there’s only one major piece of hardware missing from Teemu Selanne’s collection – a gold medal.
The veteran forward hopes to take care of that at the upcoming IIHF World Hockey Championship, where he’ll play for Finland at this event for the first time in five years.
“It’s funny,” Selanne said after joining the team Wednesday. “I have won Olympic silver, World Cup silver and world championship silver but not gold so obviously there is (room for) some improvement.”
He appeared in just 32 total games for the Anaheim Ducks this season after sitting out most of the year while pondering retirement.
That break has helped make him excited to play the game again. He didn’t have to think long when Finnish GM Jarri Kurri called him with an invitation to the world championship.
“It’s hard to say no to the guy whose poster has been on my wall,” said Selanne. “It was a quite easy decision. I played only 32 games this season and I really enjoy to play.
“I still felt I could easily play way, way longer in the playoffs but obviously it didn’t work out so it was easy decision to come here and spend the extra energy here.”
His presence certainly has provided a boost to a team that already includes Olli Jokinen up front and Niklas Backstrom in goal.
The Finns are known for playing a sound team game but often have trouble scoring goals. Selanne can certainly help them change that.
“I can’t tell you how much respect I have for the guy as a player and a person,” said Finnish coach Doug Shedden. “To have him here just gives everybody such a lift.”
Many thought Selanne might retire after winning the Stanley Cup with Anaheim last June.
He’s a free agent now but sounds like a man who has more hockey in him. Not that he’s willing to say that just yet.
“Let’s go one tournament at a time,” said Selanne. “I say I try to play as long as I really enjoy this game and that break that I had early in the season was so good and I really enjoy to come back.”
A stingy Finnish team upset Russia in the semifinals of last year’s world championship before losing to Canada in the final and settling for silver.
The country’s lone gold medal in this event came in 1995.
Selanne knows his team will not be favoured here but believes it has a chance to win another gold medal.
“I think it’s still whoever wants it more,” said Selanne. “I don’t think the gap between the teams is that big.”