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Flash will never outstay welcome

Fans again cheer Selanne's return

Posted: 10/7/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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Ducks' Teemu Selanne (back) and Ryan Getzlaf in action at the MTS Centre Sunday night.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Ducks' Teemu Selanne (back) and Ryan Getzlaf in action at the MTS Centre Sunday night. Photo Store

In the less than 24 hours he spent back in his first NHL home -- and maybe for the last time as an active player -- Teemu Selanne got pretty much everything he needed.

A warm re-engagement with Winnipeg fans and a victory for his Anaheim Ducks shared the spotlight for the Finnish Flash after the 3-2 decision over the Jets at the MTS Centre.

"In some ways, I felt like I was on the home team," Selanne said shortly after the game's conclusion. "Because the people were so excited. This is a very special building. These fans make it very special. It's a good feeling."

The fans cheered most of his moves, they saluted him once again after a short tribute over the public address system during a first-period TV timeout and there was a final ovation and some waves after the final horn.

The 43-year-old right-winger ended the game pointless and with 17:23 of action on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. He had four shots on goal and was a minus-one, but the play-by-play of most of his night was his linemates and teammates looking to set him up for a goal.

"I felt that," Selanne smiled. "They wanted, first of all, to win this game and they tried to feed me, too. I had a couple of good chances, but... not tonight. The goals were not so important. To gain that experience, to come here and play, that was more than the goals tonight.

"We haven't really played much together. If we could play a couple more games, I think we would start reading each other much better, but Bruce (Boudreau, Ducks coach) likes to change those lines like underwear. You never know who's going to play with who.

"That was our success last year."

One modification of that success will be the new plan the Ducks have hatched for Selanne's 22nd season.

Boudreau, with Selanne's approval, intends to sit out the Flash once every time the Ducks have a back-to-back situation on the schedule.

"We decided in the summer, I think even before he was signed, to lighten his load," Boudreau said. "He'll play one game in the back-to-backs. That'll be a 70-game season and we'll keep him fresh and ready to play all the time."

Selanne missed two of the 48 regular-season games last season.

"Last year when we tried to sit him out or tell him he needed a rest, it wasn't very good," the coach said. "He was pretty stubborn. This year he was pretty receptive to the idea. He tired a little bit at the end of last year. If you know him, he doesn't want to take any days off, he's so passionate about the game.

"I think he understood that this was probably the best thing for him as well as us."

Selanne said he'll get to choose his games in these back-to-backs, starting with Sunday night's obvious pick.

The Ducks were in Minnesota on Saturday.

"Before I signed here, I sat down with Bruce and we decided back-to-back games. I'm only going to play one game and I'm going to choose which one," the Flash said. "Obviously it's hard to do that right away, like in the second game, but that was our plan and I'm going to stick with that.

"I've been a little stubborn about taking days off, especially the games off, but I think in the long run it's a good decision. Last year was so tough, I didn't want it to happen."

There was nothing tough about Sunday in Winnipeg.

"Like I said earlier, for me, they (the fans) make me feel really special," Selanne said.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 7, 2013 C2

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