ANAHEIM, Calif. – Teemu Selanne returned to the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks on Monday after missing the first half of the season while contemplating retirement.
The unrestricted free agent signed a one-year deal and then practised with the team before it departs Tuesday for an eight-game, 15-day road trip.
“It was a pretty hard practice. I almost forgot how tough it is,” Selanne said afterward. “I really feel this is a good time to come back and go on the road with my teammates. (The trip) gives a little more privacy and the ability to get together with new teammates and get back into action.”
The 37-year-old Selanne nearly didn’t come back, but then he began attending games and being around the team made him want to be part of the action.
“If Brian Burke had told me he needed a deadline in training camp or November, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
Selanne said he didn’t want to make a decision until his wife gave birth, which happened seven weeks ago.
“I was very happy to be home and spend the time with my boys and the newborn,” he said. “After that, I thought I would start skating and see how I feel. Every day I started feeling better and better. Then I called my agent and asked him to see if there was a deal available.”
Selanne followed Stanley Cup MVP Scott Niedermayer in returning to the team. Niedermayer came back in December after pondering retirement, and he scored a goal in Sunday’s all-star game in Atlanta.
Selanne had 48 goals and 46 assists last season, when he ranked third in the NHL in goals, led the league in power-play goals with 25 and tied for first in game-winning goals with 10.
“We are thrilled to have him back,” general manager Brian Burke said. “This is a player who scored 48 goals last year and showed no signs of slowing down.”
Selanne had been skating at the Ducks’ practice rink for the past few weeks.
“I feel the passion again to play hockey,” he said. “Anaheim is the only place I wanted to play and I’m very happy that the Samuelis (owners Henry and Susan) and Brian Burke have welcomed me back.”
The Finland native won his first Cup last season, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 5 of the Western Conference final against Detroit.