Selanne relishes winning mind-set
On the night the Ducks clinched their third consecutive playoff appearance, Teemu Selanne took a mental note of what was said by his teammates in the aftermath.
“I didn’t hear anybody say a word about that,” Selanne said. “That’s a good sign. For myself, going through all those years where we didn’t really have a good team, you really appreciate the times when you have this kind of team and situation that we have here.”
The Ducks are enjoying unprecedented success on the ice. Before Henry and Susan Samueli bought the team from Walt Disney Co. and Brian Burke was hired as general manager, the franchise had only three playoff appearances but never consecutive ones.
The success over the last few seasons has translated into a box-office bounty. With Sunday’s expected sellout against Phoenix in the regular-season finale, the Ducks will have sold out every home game for the first time in an 82-game season.
Selanne, who came back in February to try to add a second Stanley Cup title to his resume, said things are different from his first stint in Anaheim.
“Ten years ago, it was different,” Selanne said. “The biggest goal for the season was making the playoffs. And obviously the whole thing has changed now. That’s the least we can do. That’s at least how we feel.
“The bar is raised higher. We know how much it takes. With the new ownership after the lockout, this whole franchise and organization has taken this to another level.
“It’s about winning in this room. That’s a great feeling.”
Burke has talked of making the Ducks a contender year after year. Coach Randy Carlyle, when asked about making the playoffs regularly, as these Ducks have, said it’s “an organizational accomplishment.”
“It’s not just a hockey team,” Carlyle said. “It’s the off-ice [operations], the ticket sellers, the marketing. The players themselves, the product. All the things that you try to do to grind out wins.
“It’s not easy to win in the NHL. And we’ve dealt with lots of adversity. To me . . . your players are the ones that have to put it on the line night in, night out.”
Selanne said the Ducks’ recent success starts with the mind-set of the Samuelis, who the forward says wanted to win from the first day they took over the franchise.
“Earlier, when Disney was owners, there was always talking and talking that we’re going to go after the free-agent market and we never really did anything big,” Selanne said. “Obviously it’s a different organization with the Samuelis and Burke. It’s a big family. And that family has a dream and a goal. And that goal is to win.”
The clearest example of that, Selanne said, was their successful pursuit of defenseman Scott Niedermayer when he became a free agent after 12 seasons in New Jersey.
“It was the first time that the organization was going to take the next step,” said Selanne, who came back to the Ducks about three weeks after Niedermayer was signed.
“It’s never easy to build a good hockey team. Because it doesn’t matter how much money you have. You still have to take the right pieces and get the right kind of guys.”
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