Teemu Selanne is without question one of the greatest of all time. His hall-of-fame career has been decorated with accomplishments, class and dedication to his community and city. Perhaps no other player has been so loved by, and so thrived in his respective hockey market. As the fans in Orange County will tell you;
Teemu plays better in a Ducks' jersey.
Seeing such a player's career come to a close is a painful thing, and whether Selanne plays longer or hangs up his skates this July, it's apparent to everyone that the end is closer then it has ever been.
Predicting exactly what Selanne decides to do is tough as he's contemplated retirement every year since the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007. He turns 42 this year though, and perhaps the only factor keeping the option of playing another year open is his continued offensive production.
Not only did he produce, he led the team in scoring with 66 points and was by far the most consistent Anaheim forward throughout the year. If he does retire, it certainly won't be because he can't play the game anymore.
So why would he retire aside from his age? Here are a few factors that could play a huge part in his decision.
Despite the strides made under a new coaching staff during the second half of the season, Anaheim had an atrocious campaign overall.
Though they wouldn't admit it, this has pushed the team to somewhat of a rebuild, and with such a young core and high draft picks this year and last, the team is going to have to focus and rely on their youth moving forward.
However that looks, Teemu Selanne can't be factored into that future in any significant way, and he knows it.
Selanne played all 82 games last season injury free. Though this might seem like a positive factor for playing another year, at 42 years old, getting through an NHL season without any looming health issues might be the perfect time to call it quits.
If Selanne were to play another year and get hurt, retirement at that point would be a sure thing. He would have to do it. Having completed a season without issue gives him the opportunity to retire on his own terms.
The Ducks are not a bad team. In fact, they have an envious farm system, and with so many promising prospects, Anaheim will have a chance to build a contending team around their core of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan very soon.
Yet most would agree that at this point the Ducks are two or three years out from being a serious contender again. If Selanne's standard for "retiring on top" is a deep playoff run, he may have missed his chance.
The act of Nicklas Lidstrom calling it a career is somewhat of a metaphorical indication of Selanne's hockey generation moving on.
These guys saw a lot of their best playing days in the 90s, and the number of that generation of players left in the league is getting very small.
Whether or not Selanne feels that pull is all speculation and with Lidstrom paving the way, guys like Selanne and Chris Pronger may have an easier time making the decision to go the same route.
This certainly isn't to say that Selanne has any problem with Bruce Boudreau or his coaching staff, or that he is unhappy with the NHL's re-alignment plans.
Simply put, it creates somewhat of a "good stopping spot".
This year will mark significant changes for the Ducks and the NHL as a whole, and will require Selanne to adjust to those changes should he choose to play for another season.
Could he do it? Sure. However, it might just be the last nudge that he needs to hang up his skates for good.
To be clear, for as many reasons as I can think of for Selanne to retire, I can think of two for him to keep playing. It's hard to say at this point what he will decide to do.
One thing is for sure though; he's one of the best and classiest guys to ever play the game of hockey, and whatever direction he goes in after his playing career, one can only hope that there will be a position in Anaheim's organization available for him.
Here's to one more year, Teemu.