The Washington Times - November 1, 2011, 03:03PM

This past summer, Teemu Selanne spoke to Anaheim Ducks teammate and fellow Finn Saku Koivu about his playing career. Should he hang up his skates and start the clock ticking toward his inevitable Hockey Hall of Fame induction?

But that conversation happened in the summer of 2010 and 2009, too, and the result was always the same


“He’s always like, ‘You know what, I had so much fun in the previous year, so I’m going to take my time and see what happens,’ ” Koivu recalled Monday.

The result was always to give it one more shot. Selanne waited until September to announce he’d return to Anaheim, this time at the age of 41. He now has 640 goals and 710 assists in 1,270 career NHL games.

But Selanne still lacing them up isn’t just a chance to prolong a career that has gone downhill. He had 31 goals and 49 assists (80 points) at the age of 40 and has shown no signs that he couldn’t do something similar this season.

“This might be it” might be a good mentality for Selanne.

“I’ve said the last five years, ‘All right, this is going to be probably my last one,’ I think that has been really working for me,” he said. “I try to take advantage of every day an just enjoy it and know this might be it.”

For Koivu, also nearing the end at age 36, the mentality is much of the same.

“when you get to a point that you know you don’t have too many years in front of you, then it kind of comes to a point where you take it a year at a time,” Koivu said. “You don’t know what the future will bring and it’s kind of like – you can’t, at this point plan it too far ahead, and you just play and enjoy it. And when the summer comes you say, ‘Is there enough juice left for another year, or is this it?’ ”

This time, Koivu said with a laugh, this “might” be it for Selanne.

The 41-year-old legend thinks the same.

“Again, I feel like it’s the last one,” he said.

But anything resembling a farewell tour is not in the works. Even as he appreciates kind words said by fans and opposing players, he feels no need to make what could be his final season any special spectacle.

“I don’t have to do it, so I’m not going to do it,” he said.

Because, of course, it might not be the beginning of the end, after all.