Selänne, 41, reaches 1,300 mark in played NHL games
Coach: “You should play until you’re 50”
On Tuesday, when the Anaheim Ducks beat the Dallas Stars 5-2 in an NHL regular season game, the California team’s Finnish forward Teemu Selänne also had something else to celebrate. The effort marked Selänne’s 1,300th career game in the NHL.
Selänne, 41, now holds 9th place on the list of European players with the most NHL appearances.
Overall, he is 52nd when it comes to the number of played NHL games.
Of today’s active players, only Nicklas Lindström (Detroit), Roman Hamrlik (Washington), and Jaromir Jagr (Philadelphia) have more NHL appearances under their belt.
In the all-time statistics Selänne is the number two Finn, behind Teppo Numminen, who appeared in 1,372 games in the NHL between 1998 and 2009. Jari Kurri (1,251) and Olli Jokinen (1,004) are the other two Finnish members of the ton-up club.
Jokinen is still active with the Calgary Flames and reached the milestone on New Year's Day.
”Obviously a lot of good things have had to happen when you can play so many games. I'm obviously very grateful for that", Selänne said before the game, according to the Orange County Register website.
Last summer Selänne said that he would continue at least for one more season, because he still enjoyed playing ice hockey.
Even Anaheim’s so far rather dismal season (despite now winning three matches on the bounce, they are still a long way off the play-off places) has not completely eroded the Finn’s enjoyment of the game.
His knee, too, does not seem to be bothering him at the moment. In the NHL points table Selänne is in a very creditable 16th place. He has earned 41 (14+27) points in as many games.
Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau has advised Selänne to continue his career for as long as possible.
“I told him that Gordie Howe played until he was 50”, Boudreau joked.
Anaheim’s second Finnish veteran Saku Koivu is also in great form, scoring a hat-trick against Dallas.
Koivu was duly recognised as the MVP of the game. Selänne assisted in two of Koivu’s goals, including the ultimate 5-2 hit into an empty net.
This was Koivu’s second career hat-trick in the NHL.
“In my career, it hasn’t happened too often to get three in one game and get a hat-trick", Koivu rejoiced on the Anaheim website.
Koivu himself is not far from reaching 1,000 matches - this was his 971st appearance in the NHL in a career stretching back to 1995.
For Kari Lehtonen, the Finnish goalie of the Dallas Stars, the evening was less stellar.
Of the 25 shots towards his goal he managed to ward off only 21.
Previously in HS International Edition:
"One more time": Teemu Selänne decides to soldier on (16.9.2011)
List of NHL players with 1000 games played - to end of 2010-2011 season (Wikipedia)
Teemu Selänne (Wikipedia)
Anaheim Ducks: Teemu Selänne