It's entirely possible that when the Anaheim Ducks were eliminated in seven games by the Detroit Red Wings, Teemu Selanne could have played the final game of his career. Hockey fans everywhere hope that's not the case, but you never know.
Selanne, as he has begun doing every summer, is going to take some time to decide if he'll return for another season in the NHL. He has very little left to achieve in his career, but if he can and still wants to play, then he'll play.
It's just going to take some time as Selanne said in his exit interview with the media on Tuesday (full transcript here).
"It's a commitment with training and dedication in the summertime. That's when you have to be ready," Selanne said of what will go into his decision. "Like I said before, the good thing is, I don't have to play. I only play because I want to play. That's the motivation that players dream of. That's why I take some time off. I want to start feeling either way. Do I really want to start pushing myself again? If I don't have it, then I don't play. That's the best way to do it. After like six weeks, I'll start thinking about whether I want to start working out. Your body and your mind start missing it, and then you know what's the right decision. If you don't get that, then it's time to start doing something else."
As usual, he will head back to Finland during the summer while he ponders his future. As he mentions, it's all about getting that drive to want to play again, not anything else. That's certainly commendable, and it's all that fans seem to ever ask from their athletes. Play for the love of the game, fans say. That's what Selanne has been doing and might do again.
He knows there are a couple of unique opportunities next year with the Olympics coming and an outdoor game at Dodger Stadium, but all that matters is if he wants to play again.
Despite a decrease in production this season, Selanne doesn't think his skills are diminishing. He just acknowledged that he was feeling the fatigue in the short season, something that a lot of other players felt.
Selanne is the all-time leading scorer in the NHL among Finnish players after he passed Jari Kurri. He is currently 11th in NHL history with 675 goals, six behind Jaromir Jagr, 15 back of Mario Lemieux. If Selanne returned for one more season and scored 20 goals, he could leap into seventh all time depending on what Jagr does.
This season he had 12 goals and 12 assists in 46 games, but after March 1 he had just six goals and one assist before picking up three points in the first-round series vs. Detroit.
Hopefully, Teemu does decide to come back for one more season because he's still a treat to watch, and since every team will visit all 29 other NHL arenas starting next season, every fan base would get another chance to watch one of the game's greats.