Sun Feb 28 02:01am EST
"It's for sure the heaviest," he said of the hockey hardware, awarded to his Finland team after its 5-3 comeback win over Slovakia on Saturday night. "I like this. It's a cool-looking medal."
In a way, he said, the bronze is more emotionally rewarding than the silver, as Finland experienced in its loss to the Swedes in 2006. "It was so bitter and disappointing. At least bronze, you win. Everybody's smiling. Everybody's celebrating," he said. "Especially for me. I played my first national team game 23 years ago. Five Olympics. Finishing with the bronze is a dream come true."
Selanne's Olympic dreams as a player appear at an end. This was his 31st Winter Games contest, and the 39-year-old winger said it's his international finale. "I think this is going to be my last year, for sure. Last Olympics, last national team game," he said. "I learn over the years to never say never, but I think this is my last one."
When asked if this season would mark the end of his NHL career, the Anaheim Ducks sniper answered: "Yeah, I think so."
Selanne's talked retirement before and come back to play, but this Olympic achievement for the Finns would appear to be a crowning one for the veteran. They rallied from a 3-1 second-period hole with four unanswered tallies in the third period, leaving the Slovaks stunned and angry after the game. New York Rangers winger Marian Gaborik(notes) slammed his helmet against the concrete on the way to the locker room. Defenseman Andrej Sekera(notes) smashed his stick on a metal rail, tossing one broken half to the ground as the other half landed on top of a reporter's head. (He was unharmed, and collected quite a souvenir.)
The Finns? All smiles, especially Selanne. "Hockey is a funny game. You never know what's going to happen," he said.
To that end, Finland was emotionally devastated after its 6-1 loss to Team USA in the semifinals. "That was the only concern that I had, whether this team was going to be mentally ready today," said Selanne. "The second period ... oh my god, it's not pretty. But I think the game is exactly as the whole tournament has been: up and down, but winning at the right time."
With the bronze, the Finns now have more medals (3) than any other nation since the NHL started participating in the Games back in 1998. Selanne ends his final Olympic tournament as its all-time leading scorer with 37 points. "It's a big thing. But it's just an individual thing," he said. "I'd rather take a medal than any individual record."