There has been renewed rumours and discussion about Teemu Selanne joining Jokerit for its inaugural KHL season. The rumour has been floating around since Jokerit announced that it would join the league for the 2014-2015 season. The rumours got more wind under its wings after Jokerit GM and Teemu’s friend, Jari Kurri said that he would sit down with Selanne when he is in Finland to discuss it seriously and find out if Teemu has the drive to play “one more year”.
During the NHL play-offs there was talk of Teemu’s KHL career when a Russian news paper quoted Teemu saying that it was entirely possible. However, after the bitter game seven loss to LA Kings, Selanne admitted that it is unlikely and has spoken about what activities await him in Anaheim after his career is finished.
This is purely speculation, but I think Selanne is unlikely to join the Jokerit team because:
1) It is far away from his home in California and it is unlikely that he will want to uproot his family for a year and disrupt his kids’ school. It would be likely that should Teemu choose to play in the KHL, his family would stay behind in Anaheim. As a family man, does he want to leave his family for the whole season?
2) It is a lot of travel and Teemu has admitted that sometimes he has feared travelling when having to fly in adverse weather. Combine that with the long haul away trips that could potentially be flown with Russian planes that have a questionable reputation since the Lokomotiv air disaster.
3) Teemu has a desire to win. I doubt that Jokerit will be able to muster together a team that will challenge for the Gagarin Cup. I would anticipate that the team will be strong, but not a championship contender.
4)Where I think that Selanne would be able to compete and play to a high level at the KHL, given what we saw of him in Sochi, the whole “let’s bring in Selanne” motto sounds like a big marketing ploy than anything else. Would I pay money to see Teemu Selanne play in my native? Absolutely! He is an enigmatic person and has a lot of pull both on the ice and off it.
5) Does he really “need” to play? No! At almost 44-years old, Selanne has given his everything as a player. He has ample knowhow and knowledge that can be used elsewhere within the game and I think he has more than earned his retirement. There is life outside of hockey and he, if anyone has deserved it.
I’m not saying Selanne couldn’t play at the KHL level. He proved that he could play in the NHL, even if Bruce Boudreau decided that Selanne can play in a diminished role. The Olympics showed that Selanne is still an offensive threat.
How I would like to see Selanne utilised? He has told Urheilu-Sanomat’s editor in chief Vesa Rantanen that he wants to set up a goal scoring clinic where he would teach Finnish junior players the art of scoring. Getting the insight from a man who has notched over 680 goals in the NHL is something that would be awe-inspiring.
I’ve seen a few videos of Selanne where he discusses junior training and sports in general and it is hugely interesting. The man has a knowledge base and the background that could be used to develop players on a national level, if not work with young prospects in the NHL. Let’s not forget that Teemu Selanne’s career was pretty much over by the 04-05 Lock out. However, after undergoing knee surgery and completely changing how he trains to get back to the top talks volumes of how Selanne can help the younger players achieve more.
Where Selanne may not win a Stanley Cup as a player, I think it is entirely possible that he will add a few rings to his collection in a front office role. In an ideal world, I would like to see Teemu Selanne, Jere Lehtinen, Saku Koivu and Ville Nieminen set up a think tank to improve the quality of Finnish hockey players and set up a sort of programme of excellence.
One can dream.
Whilst we wait for further news on Selanne’s plans, I think I’m not alone in saying that he has deserved his retirement.