Teemu Selanne has been so great for so long, it’s hard to believe his career’s coming to an end. Heck, many don’t believe it’ll happen, even though he’s been very direct about his intentions.
So it’s appropriate the international phase of his career had a storybook ending, as Selanne scored two goals in his final Olympic contest — Saturday’s 5-0 win over the U.S. in the bronze medal game — making him the oldest medal winner in men’s Olympic hockey history.
“What a great ending,” Selanne said, per the Toronto Star. “Twenty-six years ago I played my first national team game. I’ve been carrying this jersey with a lot of pride and love.”
Since the NHL started sending its players to the Olympics in 1998, Finland has led the pack with four medals and Selanne is a big part of the reason why. Just as he has excelled on the NHL stage, Selanne has consistently found a way to elevate his game.
He has 24 goals and 43 points in 37 Olympic contests. He tied the Olympic lead in scoring twice (1998 and 2006) and goals twice (1992 and 2006) and, as noted by Sportsnet’s John Shannon, has been a pretty consistent scoring threat (save a slump in Vancouver):
Selanne: Albertville: 7 goals, Nagano: 4 goals, SLC: 3 goals. Turin: 6 goals. Vancouver: 0 goals. Sochi: 3 goals. #Wow
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) February 22, 2014
Despite being 43 and having his role with the Anaheim Ducks being significantly diminished, Selanne played a critical role in Finland’s success from start to finish on Sochi. He had six points in six games and, for the first time, agreed to lead the Finns while serving as captain.
“Usually I’m [alternate] captain and a lot of times if they have asked if I want to be captain, I don’t really need a letter to be a leader,” Selanne explained to NHL.com before the tournament started. “A lot of times it’s better if somebody else going to be [captain]. But now it’s my last one, this time I felt it’s time to be captain and I’m very honored.”
Selanne wanted to make the most of his last trip to the Olympics as a player. As has been the case so many times before, he succeeded.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said, per AP. “What a great ending.”