The $64,000 question for Anaheim fans since Lord Stanleys Cup was ferried around the Honda Center ice by the victorious Ducks back in the first week of June has been whether or not Teemu and Scotty would be back to defend their championship. (Although maybe we should bump it up to $128,000, because it really is two separate questions.)
Scotty is one of the most accomplished hockey players of all time. He has won a Norris Trophy, a Conn Smythe Trophy, and a measly FOUR Stanley Cups. Hes played in the NHL All Star Game three times, and sat out another. He also won the Memorial Cup and an Olympic Gold Medal just for good measure. Hes a slam dunk first ballot Hall of Famer already, and to top it all off, just to show hes a true Duck, he recently sent a letter to the city of Chicago to persuade them not to do away with the citys ban on foie gras (as if anyone should need any persuading for that).
Scotty will be 34 at the end of the month, and before anyone claims his best days are behind him, keep in mind he led all NHL defensemen in points and assists last year, and was second in ice time. Scotty obviously has nothing more to prove, and the question seems to be can someone with such a distinguished career find the competitive fire to commit himself to the rigors of the hockey season.
While all signs, including his own indications, point to a likely retirement for Scotty, the likes of which could only be compared to Jim Brown or Barry Sanders, I think the longer we go without hearing for sure, the more likely we are to have him back on the ice come October. As the thoughts of last years training camp and triple overtimes start to fade, and the memory of raising the Cup with his brother is left untarnished, I think, and hope, that that fire will be rekindled and Scotty will come back for one last run, to complete possibly the only challenge left for such a decorated athlete, back to back championships.
Teemus is a different story. At 37, Teemu has long been the heart and soul of the Anaheim franchise. Playing with the Ducks since 1996, with a few years spent on a couple other Western Conference teams that shall remain nameless, Teemu owns the Ducks career records for most even-strength and power-play goals, and is 3 points and 16 assists away from those records as well.
In the last two seasons with the Ducks, Teemu has had a rebirth, averaging 92 points a season, while ensuring his place in the hearts of Ducks fans everywhere by leading them to their first ever Cup. Anyone who watched the playoffs last year knows no player took more of a surreal beating than Teemu. Taking multiple sticks and a puck to the face (the latter mysteriously shot from the Minnesota side of the ice) did nothing to impede his leadership and determination. If anything, the swelling and the stiches just seemed to piss him off. Never a good thing for the opposing team.
There has been much less said about which way Teemu is leaning than Scotty, but for those of you Hockeybuzz fanatics that notice the little things, there was one encouraging sign this weekend. In the UFA rankings, the Great and Powerful Ek has removed Retire as one of the possible options for Teemu. Going with the many times he has said in the past that if he plays, he will only play in Anaheim, and his widely known love of Southern California, particularly the golf course in Coto, and placing all my faith in the Great and Powerful Eks decision to rule out retirement, things look good for Duck fans to once again be treated to the greatness that is, the Finnish Flash.