Photo credit: Orange County Register
Teemu Selanne is one of the greatest hockey players ever to lace up skates. His 642 career goals rank him in 12th place of all time. He’s led the league in goal-scoring three times during his career, and he won the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
Put simply, the man knows how to score goals and win games. So when Teemu started talking about Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin with Alisa Volbidaht of Sovetsky Sport, we paid attention.
During the long Q/A, the Finnish Flash gives his opinion on Ovi’s recent “benching,” what the Great Eight needs to do to regain his scoring touch of years’ past, and who he thinks will win the Rocket Richard trophy.
The interview, published in Wednesday’s issue of the Sovetsky Sport newspaper, is translated below by RMNB’s Fedor Fedin.
Selanne’s Comments On Ovechkin
Alisa Volbidaht: You recently played against Alexander Ovechkin. Many Russian fans think our best forward is degrading. He’s predictable, he only has one move. Do you agree?
Teemu Selanne: Ovechkin’s play, of course, still has fire in it. Everybody wants to stop him. He has some tough nights. Well, in every game he’s getting defended very tightly. If you give him freedom, he’ll use it. What’s happening right now with Ovi is not a big deal. He just needs a breakthrough. Find a way to get open and score. He needs to change something in his game. I’m not worried for him. Ovi is a great forward. Great players know how to get the job done.
Alisa Volbidaht: What’s your advice for him?
Teemu Selanne: Relax and enjoy!
Alisa Volbidaht: Ovechkin in a game against the Ducks was so relaxed that he swore at Coach Boudreau, who benched him late in the game.
Teemu Selanne: Emotions are always high. Especially when the game isn’t coming to you. But those are just words. It happens in hockey. The words are forgotten, the deeds are remembered.
Alisa Volbidaht: Was Bruce Boudreau right in benching him?
Teemu Selanne: I don’t know what was going on between them. I simply believe that the best players need to be the best, and they need to be on the ice during critical moments. I was shocked when I didn’t see Ovechkin. But that’s none of my business.
Alisa Volbidaht: Have you ever had a conflict with a coach?
Teemu Selanne: No. Sometimes I express my opinion. Sometimes they disagree. That’s it.
The Rest of the Article
Teemu Selanne: When I give interviews to the Russian media, I first of all thank my coach Boris Mayorov, who worked with me during the early 90’s in Jokerit. I immensely respect him. He taught me a lot.
Alisa Volbidaht: Mayorov now contributes to our newspaper.
Teemu Selanne: You’re lucky. He played a big role in my successful NHL debut. Mayorov is very smart, especially in hockey theory. He knows the game well and helps young players reach their potential. He told me not to go to the NHL too young. I went to Winnipeg only at the age of 22.
Alisa Volbidaht: Boris Alexandrovich [Mayorov] said that you have a big collection of cars.
Teemu Selanne: I only have 20 left. My fleet is disappearing!
Teemu Selanne, Selanne’s Maybach and Cam Fowler.
Alisa Volbidaht: If SKA offers you a contract, which car will you drive from Helsinki to Saint Petersburg?
Teemu Selanne: I’ll probably drive my Maybach.
Alisa Volbidaht: So is this a deal? I’m calling St. Petersburg!
Teemu Selanne: I didn’t say I’ll sign a contract! I’m too old to play in Russia. Maybe I’d think about doing that earlier in my career. But now – no for sure. It’s difficult to go around the world with four kids. My sons like Anaheim.
Alisa Volbidaht: Have you ever been to Russia?
Teemu Selanne: I have only played in Moscow. I liked your capital city very much. It reminds me of New York City.
Alisa Volbidaht: Do you know any Russian words?
Teemu Selanne: All the bad words.
Alisa Volbidaht: Any good ones?
Teemu Selanne: Dobry vecher [“Good evening”], S Novym godom [“Happy New year”], Krasivye glaza [“Beautiful eyes”]. Alexey Zahmnov taught me Russian. We were roomates playing for Winnipeg. I learned the unprintable words from him as well.
Alisa Volbidaht: In Anaheim, Ruslan Salei, who died in the Yaroslavl tragedy, was your teammate.
Teemu Selanne: Oh… That was one of the most sad days in my life when I found out Salei was actually on that plane. There were rumors that Ruslan was not on board the Yak-42, that he went to Minsk earlier. But… Salei was a great guy. We played together a lot. Simply… a heartbreaking tragedy. Life is often unfair.
Alisa Volbidaht: Have you had any flight incidents?
Teemu Selanne: God has blessed me. [Teemu knocks on wood]. Flights are not one of my favorite ways to spend some time. It is probably the worst part of sports.
Alisa Volbidaht: You have five goals and 14 points in 14 games. You’re one of the NHL’s leading scorers again. How do you feel?
Teemu Selanne: It’s cool. The older I get, the more fun I have playing. Don’t take this game against the Rangers into account. We had almost no energy. But I really enjoy playing hockey.
Alisa Volbidaht: Jaromir Jagr is shining in Philadelphia. He’s 39. He’s scored 15 points, and tallied six goals in 14 games.
Teemu Selanne: Oh, Jaromir! My good friend and a great player. I’m very glad that the old guys can still keep up with the youngsters.
Alisa Volbidaht: Do you have enough in tank to have a whole year of that?
Teemu Selanne: Sure! The key is to believe it!
Alisa Volbidaht: We do. Right now you’re beating Perry and Ovi in the scoring race.
Teemu Selanne: Goals and points come if you play well. They are not that important by themselves. The main thing is team wins.
Alisa Volbidaht: Who will be the NHL’s top scorer this year?
Teemu Selanne: Interesting question… Many guys can. We talked about Ovechkin – he gets better with every single game. Toronto’s Phil Kessel has played great. I don’t think there is one player who is going be much better than the others. Let’s wait for the surprises.
Alisa Volbidaht: Maybe even Selanne?
Teemu Selanne: Anything can happen [winks].
Additional reporting by Ian Oland.