Teemu Selanne is amazing.
I think we already realize that pretty well, and if we didn't, his 2010 season with the Anaheim Ducks was exactly what smacked us in the face and woke us up. A 40-year-old scoring 80 points in 73 games is enough to do that, and if it's not, the fact that he scored a game-tying goal in the last three minutes of a game four times down the stretch of the season last year is certainly enough.
As he's returned for the 2011-12 season, another year that could be his swan song, he's not showing any signs of slowing down. SB Nation's Battle of California alerted us to these numbers: On the Ducks current road trip, they've scored 10 goals in five games. Selanne has contributed with a point on every single one of them. A list:
Ducks at Blackhawks
Ducks at Wild
Ducks at Blue Jackets
8:24 1st: Bobby Ryan -- assists by Teemu Selanne, Toni Lydman
Ducks at Capitals
9:05 1st: Saku Koivu -- assists by Teemu Selanne, Cam Fowler
13:39 1st: Teemu Selanne -- assists by Saku Koivu, Toni Lydman
8:59 2nd: Teemu Selanne -- assists by Cam Fowler, Francois Beauchemin
9:13 3rd: Corey Perry -- PP, assists by Cam Fowler, Teemu Selanne
That's a lot of Teemu Selanne. Sure, he's not taking on some of the toughest defensive assignments on the team -- those belong to Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, which could help explain why those guys aren't scoring so much in recent games -- and he's starting 55 percent of his shifts in the offensive end of the ice, which certainly lends itself to more offensive success.
But Selanne's never been much of a defensive player. It's not his game, as it's usually not for the best of offensive stars. Selanne's always been able to pick apart opposing defensemen, and that's how he's racked up 1,354 points over his NHL career thus far.
The Ducks have another game on their road trip on Thursday night, a battle with the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. They might not win the game, as they've lost three straight and the Rangers have looked quite good since getting back on home ice, but we'd put money on Selanne adding to his impressive, Hall of Fame-worthy career point total.
We wrote last week that the NHL needs to mandate visors, because for the most part, players that don't wear them are never going to wear them. We still stand behind that sentiment -- players are stubborn, and there are still a lot of NHL players that absolutely refuse to wear protection over one of the most vital parts of their body.
When you're getting paid millions of dollars to play the game, and there's no real evidence at any other level of hockey that wearing a visor contributes to a decrease in play, you shouldn't get to make the choice of whether or not to wear one.
But the trend is obvious: old players don't wear visors, young players do. It makes sense, considering visors or even full cages have been mandatory at lower levels of hockey for years now. Young players are just used to wearing them, and there's no reason to change once they get to the NHL.
Thus, we will get to a point someday when visors are worn by every player. We're approaching that, and we'll probably get there perhaps even in the next decade, if new data from The Hockey News is any indication.
All told, 464 of the 669 skaters polled (69.4 percent) are wearing visors this season, with 205 players choosing not to wear them. That percentage is up significantly from 2010-11 when just 58.8 percent of NHL players donned shields. In fact, in the past decade the number has gone from 28 percent in 2001-02 to 69.4 percent this campaign.
THN also notes that just three Calder Trophy-eligible players do not wear visors, which illustrates how grandfathering the practice of wearing visors is sort of unnecessary. Agreed completely, but that's not going to protect players from injuries like the one to Bryan Berard back in 2000, or the one Chris Pronger suffered last week, or the one Ian Laperriere suffered a year and a half ago.
Hockey players are stubborn. That's why the AHL mandated visors, and that's why some sort of facial protection is mandatory in just about every other league in the world. Yes, everybody will be wearing visors soon enough, but until every single player has one snapped on to the front of their helmet, it's just not enough.
Hey, Teemu Selanne wears one. You should too.
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