Teemu Selanne, the ageless wonder of the Anaheim Ducks, has been named captain for Team Finland at the Sochi Olympics.
The 43-year-old assumes the role after original captain Mikko Koivu withdrew from Sochi because he hadn’t sufficiently recovered from a broken ankle.
Perhaps something of a sentimental choice, Sochi will be Selanne’s sixth and, if his retirement plan holds up, final Olympics, having previously played in 1992, 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010.
This will be Selanne’s second Olympic captaincy, having previously worn the ‘C’ for Finland at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
The Ducks made the announcement on their Twitter feed.
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) February 10, 2014
Selanne’s production has fallen off in Anaheim this season, with seven goals and 13 assists in 47 games thus far.
However, there’s a chance the Olympics could rejuvenate The Finnish Flash and inspire him to make one last run. He’s the leader among active NHL players in Olympic scoring with 37 points in 31 games, seven points ahead of fellow Finn and Anaheim teammate Saku Koivu.
He could break the all-time scoring record based on players who have complete Olympic statistics.
There’s also some precedent to suggest Selanne will be a better player for the Ducks once the NHL resumes play.
- When the NHL went on its Olympic break during the 2001-02 season, Selanne had 36 points in 57 games, just under 0.65 points per game. Once the NHL came back, Selanne was slightly better, scoring 18 points in the final 25 games for a 0.72 points per game pace.
- In the 2005-06 season, Selanne posted 90 points in 80 games, an average of 1.125 points per game. If you break it down between pre- and post-Olympic production, Selanne was better after returning from Italy, scoring 36 points in 25 games for a 1.44 points per game pace.
- Selanne’s post-Olympic upward trend continued in the 2009-10 season following the Vancouver Olympics. Selanne played just 54 games, tallying 48 points for a 0.89 points per game pace. In 17 games after the Olympic break, Selanne scored 19 points, an average of 1.12 points per game.
Of course, he was much younger then, so it may not be as easy for him to find that extra gear now.
Regardless, here’s hoping Sochi will provide Selanne with the inspiration he needs for one last hurrah before his Hall of Fame career comes to an end.