Tonight, when the 12th place Anaheim Ducks host the 14th place Edmonton Oilers, it won't just be a meaningless final game at Honda Center this season. It could be -- and we've been through this before --the final time Teemu Selanne plays in front of the home fans.
Anaheim finishes the season with a three-game Western Canada road trip, with next Saturday afternoon's tilt against the Calgary Flames the finale. The questions will continue in each city as the NHL faces the prospect of the end of Selanne's hockey-playing days.
Selanne told the Orange County Register earlier this week that there was "more inside him" that wanted to keep playing than not. Let's hope that's still case when the Finnish Flash makes his decision sometime in July after spending the first part of the off-season with his family in Finland. He's been healthy this season, on pace to play only his second full campaign in eight years, and even turning 42 in July doesn't appear to be a deal-breaker for now.
"I still think I can play well," he says. "That's why it's hard to make a decision earlier. If I would be just physically so beat and mentally thinking there's no way I could play at this level, it would be easy. But that's not the case. I'm not the guy who can make a decision eight, 10 months ahead."
There's no question he can still produce at a high level. Selanne leads the Ducks in scoring with 62 points and is third in goals on the team with 25. A year ago we were marveling at a 31-goal, 80-point campaign that saw an energized Selanne net 35 points in Anaheim's final 30 games as they rallied for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The production didn't stop there as he scored six times during a first round loss to the Nashville Predators.
Ducks fans, especially those heading to Honda Center tonight, would love to know what Selanne's decision is in order to cheer him coming back for one more year or to rightfully honor his contributions to the franchise and say goodbye.
We saw the response Dallas Stars fans had for Mike Modano two years ago when we all believed that was his final NHL game. After spending 12 and a half seasons in Anaheim, the Ducks fans tonight will loudly chant "one more year" hoping at some point Selanne's response is "yes".
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy