ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Teemu Selanne says he’s far from finished with hockey, and the Anaheim Ducks are grateful he’s still not feeling his age.
The 42-year-old Selanne agreed Thursday to a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Ducks to return for the 20th NHL season of his remarkable career.
Selanne could end up being the NHL’s oldest active player next season, yet he shows no signs of slowing after leading the Ducks in scoring last season. Only Gordie Howe ever scored more points as a 41-year-old than Selanne’s 66 last season, and Selanne sees no reason he shouldn’t keep going.
“Sometimes, age is just a number,” Selanne said in a phone interview while on vacation in Italy. “Age is a funny thing. A lot of times, I don’t really feel 42. It’s just a number. It all depends on how you feel.”
The Finnish Flash’s real numbers are much more impressive: Selanne is the 19th-leading scorer in NHL history with 1,406 points in two decades spent mostly in Anaheim, his home for parts of 13 seasons. The right wing is 12th in league history with 663 goals, and could crack the top 10 with another strong season.
“I just enjoy the game so much,” Selanne said. “I still feel I have something to give.”
Selanne has been with the Ducks for the past seven years, winning the Stanley Cup in 2007. Although he has contemplated retirement every offseason since raising the Cup, his latest return to the Ducks has been widely expected after he played all 82 games — the oldest player in NHL history to do that — without injuries.
“It was a little bit easier than last year,” said Selanne, who needed offseason knee surgery a year ago. “Last year, I had my knee and wasn’t sure if I was able to play again. I just enjoy the game so much.”
He’s in the middle of a long summer break after Anaheim missed the playoffs, but the Ducks surged in the second half of the year under new coach Bruce Boudreau. Selanne was impressed by Boudreau’s energy and management technique, and he believes the Ducks are ready for a rebound after winning just one postseason round in the past five seasons since their championship.
“Our team, we want to win again, so that was a part of my decision, too,” Selanne said. “I truly believe we have all the pieces. We obviously have some unfinished business from last year, and I can’t wait to start the season again.”
Selanne could be the NHL’s senior player this winter if goalie Dwayne Roloson — nine months older than Selanne — remains unsigned, although 47-year-old Czech goalie Dominik Hasek is entertaining the prospect of an NHL comeback.
Yet Selanne’s production, enthusiasm and fitness have remained incredibly steady as he advances into his 40s. He has scored at least 25 goals in six of his last seven seasons with Anaheim, and Selanne was the NHL’s eighth-leading scorer in 2010-11 with 80 points.
The Ducks gave him a raise from last season’s $4 million deal, although it’s not about money at this point for Selanne. He has a comfortable life in Orange County with his wife and four children, who have always encouraged him to keep playing.
“I think we’re all enjoying this moment right now, and my boys are happy,” Selanne said. “My family has been so supportive. It’s another season, and they’re so excited about it.”
Selanne’s teammates also were thrilled to hear the news, with left wing Bobby Ryan tweeting: “That ageless wonder number 8 still doing it for one more year! What a beauty to be around. He’s not bad either!”
Devante Smith-Pelly, Selanne’s 20-year-old teammate, was even more succinct: “One more year! One more year!”