Teemu Selanne might’ve found a new gig in Sochi — babysitting.
On Monday, Finland announced that Selanne, 43, would open the Olympic tournament on the team’s top line with 21-year-old Minnesota forward Mikael Granlund and 18-year-old Florida forward Aleksander Barkov.
“[Selanne] is our top player and so motivated and in really good condition,” Finland assistant coach Lauri Marjamaki said, per the L.A. Times. “He’s an important player for us.”
It sounds as though Finland plans on loading up Selanne with ice time, especially in light of the ankle injuries that prevented Valtteri Filppula and Mikko Koivu from playing. Star power is thin up front, which is likely why the Finns are putting Selanne on a line with two of the brightest young prospects the country has to offer — Barkov, the second overall selection at the ’13 NHL Entry Draft, is Florida’s fifth-leading scorer this season while Granlund sits third on the Wild in assists, with 23.
(Fun fact, per the Times: Barkov wasn’t even born when Selanne made his Olympic debut in ’92.)
Selanne skipped Anaheim’s final game prior to the break to rest up for Sochi, and that appears to be a wise move. Marjamaki said the Finnish team will utilize Selanne in all sorts of situations and not hold back on his minutes.
“We know what he is feeling now but he is so motivated and in good condition, and he is taking a rest for a while with the Ducks,” Marjamaki said. “But he is coming here and he is so happy, and we are happy that Teemu is with our team.”