It's All About Teemu
|No caption necessary on this one.|
With exactly five minutes left in the Ducks' home finale, just before a faceoff in the Anaheim zone, Teemu Selanne was shown on the HondaVision -- first on the bench and then jumping on the ice for the draw. The image brought a spontaneous standing ovation from the overflow crowd of 17,266, many of whom were holding aloft signs pleading for Selanne to come back for (at least) one more year. Selanne's teammates took their cue, standing up on the bench and banging their sticks on the wall.
Here's what it looked like, although the video can't possibly do it justice. You had to be here to really take it in, to hear that seemingly neverending roar, to sense the goosebumps on your arms and, just maybe, feel a little moisture in your eyes.
"On the last play of the game, I have no idea where he came from," Ryan Getzlaf said with a shake of the head. "He came flying through the middle there. His skating ability and sense of the game is unmatched by a lot of people. I thought it was going to be his glory at the end of the game there."
In a nice move, linesman Derek Nansen waited to drop the puck while the cheers went on, and if Selanne himself hadn't tapped him on the rear with his stick, he might have never dropped it.
"It's unbelievable," said Selanne, who got another chance to feel the love from the fans when he was named first star of the game. "It's almost funny that they're chanting for an old guy like me. I've always had a very special relationship with the fans ... Obviously I'm going to have another tough decision to make again."
Said Devante Smith-Pelly, who was four months old when Selanne made his NHL debut, "I got goosebumps when they were chanting 'One More Year' for 'T.' It's amazing to see how loved he is."
It's only a shame that the moment came in the midst of a 2-1 loss to the Oilers in our last chance to see this year's Ducks at home. But in typical Selanne dramatic fashion, he appeared out of nowhere to come within inches of tying the game in the final seconds. With the Ducks net empty, Selanne picked up a bouncing puck at center ice, blazed down the left wing, got bumped in the circle and fired a desperation shot that goalie Devan Dubnyk turned away. It's probably good that he did though, or we'd be spending this morning trying to put the roof back on Honda Center.
If that last burst of speed showed anything though, it told us once again that Selanne is still at the top of his game ("I still feel great," he said). As it was, he did score Anaheim's only goal, in the first period. Actually, Teemu scored three goals in the first period -- but two were from the wrong Teemu. The Oilers' 21-year-old Finnish winger Teemu Hartikainen scored his first two of the season -- the first just 15 seconds into the game -- and that was all Edmonton needed, despite the Ducks outshooting them 33-15.
It is believed to be the first time in NHL history that two guys named Teemu scored in an NHL game. "Must be a good name," laughed Selanne. "I like that."
Selanne said he talked with Hartikainen a bit around the faceoff circle in the second period and added, "Obviously it's funny that most of the kids are really young. They could be my sons."
Yes, he'll be 42 (although he hardly looks it on the ice) this July 3, two days after he says he'll let all of us know his intentions for next season. But come on, he's gotta come back for one more year, right? Heck, why not five more?
"I really would love to give an answer," he said last night. "But obviously I decided already a long time ago that emotions go high and low during the season. You've got to get the right feeling. That has been happening for me in the summertime.
"When it's time to start pushing and working out and getting ready for the new year, that's the time you have to be ready. That's the time you have to decide if you're ready to push yourself. It's a long hard process."
And not too easy for us either, as we'll spend the next few months holding out hope. The hope that we can see this guy play in this building again. The hope that we can have more moments like the one we experienced last night.
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Here are some of the best tweets from last night (and click here for even more):