Puckin' Around With Spector
by Lyle Richardson on 01/25/12 at 12:15 PM ET
The struggles of the Anaheim Ducks this season has resulted in veteran winger Teemu Selanne being frequently mentioned in recent trade rumors.
Ducks GM Bob Murray has repeatedly stated his intent is for Selanne to retire a Duck, though he’s left that decision up to the 41-year old Selanne, who hasn’t fully closed the door on the option of requesting a trade to a Stanley Cup contender, but said his focus remains helping the Ducks reach the playoffs.
Despite winning eight of their last ten games, the Ducks are currently 12 points out of a post-season spot, and with less than half-a-season remaining, their odds of clinching a berth appear long.
It’s rumored Murray has received enquiries from rival clubs about Selanne’s trade status, which is understandable, since he’s currently their leading scorer, and with 45 points in 48 games, has a good shot at reaching the 80-point mark for the tenth time in his remarkable career.
Some observers believe Selanne “owes” it to the Ducks to “do the right thing” by allowing Murray to shop him at the trade deadline to get whatever assets he can.
After all, it’s his final NHL season, the Ducks are seemingly going nowhere, and even if they do beat the odds and reach the playoffs, they lack the depth to be a serious Cup contender.
Selanne’s already won a Stanley Cup, so it’s not as though he’s facing the end of a long career without a championship, but he’s admitted it would be exciting to win it one more time before packing it in.
It’s entirely up to Selanne what he wants to do. If he decides a month from now he wants another crack at winning the Cup, and believe he won’t get that chance in Anaheim, few Ducks fans would be upset if he requested a trade to a legitimate contender.
The notion, however, that he “owes” it to the Ducks so they can get some assets in return is absurd. At this stage in his career, Selanne owes the Ducks nothing.
Apart from his explosive, 132-point debut with the Winnipeg Jets in 1993, he’s already given them the best years of his life. He helped them win their first championship in franchise history, and has remain loyal to the organization which was willing to take a chance on him (albeit under a different general manager) following the lockout, when he was considered washed-up by the rest of the league.
True, his foot dragging on retirement in recent years put the franchise in an awkward situation salary cap-wise, but each time he decided to return, the Ducks were his sole option, forsaking the opportunity to sign with more talented teams.
If Selanne decides he wants to finish his career in Anaheim, will he be accused of not putting the best interests of the team over his own?
That’s what happened to former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin, who enraged the majority of Leafs fans, and puzzled a number of pundits, by his refusal to waive his “no-trade” clause near the 2008 trade deadline.
Sundin explained he didn’t believe in the concept of being a playoff “rental player”, saying he would prefer to play for a Cup contender over the course of an entire season, rather than being parachuted onto one late in the season.
He also noted being dealt to a supposed Cup contender was no guarantee of winning a championship.
Thanks to his trade clause, Sundin had the right to decide if he wanted to be moved, and by exercising his right of refusal, was castigated by Toronto fans and media. His final days in his long, distinguished career with the Leafs were overshadowed by accusations he was thinking only of himself, rather than the good of the team.
If Selanne follows the same path, would he face a similar backlash?
Considering the current market he plays in, any criticism probably wouldn’t be as intense as what Sundin experienced in the hockey hotbed of Toronto, but he could still face his share.
Selanne has reached the stage in his career where he owes it to himself - not the Ducks, or any other team – to chose the best course of action. If he feels the burning urge to seek hockey’s Holy Grail one last time, fine. He won’t be begrudged for that decision.
But if he feels it just wouldn’t be the right thing to leave the Ducks, that he would feel like he was abandoning this organization which gave him a chance when no one else would, then he should be commended, not condemned, for that decision.
Once upon a time, we use to cheer great players in the twilight of their careers who opted to stay with their teams, rather than chase one last shot at glory somewhere else. That used to be considered a sign of the player’s character, something to be admired.
All Selanne’s owed the Ducks is to play to the best of his ability every season, which he’s never failed to do.
If he wants to finish his career with the Ducks, that decision should be respected.
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About Puckin' Around With Spector
I’m Lyle Richardson. You might know me from my website, Spector’s Hockey, my thrice-weekly rumor column at THN.com, my weekly column at Eishockey News (if you read German), and my former gig as a contributing writer to Foxsports.com.
I’ll be writing a once-weekly blog here with my take on all things NHL. Who knows, I might actually find time to debunk a trade rumor or two.