Dallas Stars forward Ray Whitney, who will be 42 next month, had a lot to talk about with 43-year-old Ducks winger Teemu Selanne on Wednesday during the first game of their teams’ first-round playoff series.
And it didn’t involve swapping stories about AARP.
With a timeout in effect, Whitney decided to pay his respects to Selanne, who plans to retire after the season. To his surprise, Selanne repaid the compliment.
“Just saying how a pleasure it’s been playing against him for so long and he said the same thing, which was very nice of him,” Whitney said after the Stars’ morning skate Friday at Honda Center.
“It is a tribute. If you can play this long in the league you’ve done something right for a long time. It’s something that we should all be proud of, if you’re in the league 40 or beyond.”
Whitney made his NHL debut during the 1991-92 season, a few months after current Stars center Tyler Seguin was born and one season before Selanne’s rookie-record 76-goal performance with Winnipeg. Whitney has scored 385 goals and 1,064 points in 1,330 career regular-season games, in addition to 21 goals and 53 points in 104 career playoff games. Whitney won the Stanley Cup in 2002 with the Carolina Hurricanes, one of eight NHL teams he has played for.
Selanne scored 684 goals (11th all-time) and 1,457 points (15th all-time) in 1,451 regular-season games and has added 42 goals and 83 points in 119 playoff games. He won the Cup with the Ducks in 2007.
“I have seniority on him, I guess, in that aspect,” Whitney said. “I’d say his career has gone ahead slightly quicker than mine in terms of production, but his production the next year when he came in slightly outdid mine.
“He’s had a great career. It really has been a pleasure playing against a guy like that for so long and seeing the way he’s conducted himself. With all that success, you certainly wouldn’t know he’s where he is in the overall standings in the league.”
Whitney was slowed late in the season by a lower-body injury but returned for Dallas’ 4-3 loss at Anaheim on Wednesday in the series opener. He skated alongside Seguin and Jamie Benn for part of Friday’s morning skate in advance of Game 2, but Coach Lindy Ruff cautioned against reading anything into that. Still, Whitney said that if he’s placed alongside Dallas’ two best forwards, he’s ready for the challenge.
“I guess I’ll just be passing it up to them most of the night,” he said. “It’s a tall order to play with those two for sure. We’ll see what tonight brings, but it brings excitement for sure.”
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