The Anaheim Ducks aren’t the type of organization that will run and hide from controversy.
So when it was learned this week that legendary right winger Teemu Selanne published some extremely disparaging comments about both the team and head coach Bruce Boudreau in his new book titled "Teemu", the Ducks didn’t shy away when asked for their side of the story.
"Get it out of the way," Boudreau said Thursday morning at the Honda Center during the team’s media day. "Nobody likes hearing anything negative about themselves, so in that sense, I am a little disappointed, but I understand his frustration. You have to understand that when he said those things, it was right after Game 7 and I could see that the frustration was everywhere."
Selanne, who turned 44 at the end of last season, had been outspoken about his diminishing role throughout the 2013-14 campaign. When he was scratched for Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Los Angeles Kings, his son tweeted a sarcastic remark directed toward Boudreau. Selanne was unapologetic, saying it was funny.
All of hockey knew that Selanne wanted to be on the ice, but no one knew just how upset he was at the time.
A Ducks’ spokesman was able to reach Selanne on Thursday afternoon for further comment. Selanne said it wasn’t his intention to hurt Boudreau or anyone else and apologized for doing so.
"In the book, I tried to explain honestly what happened last year," Selanne said. "In frustration, I made several comments following our Game 7 loss to the Kings that I shouldn’t have said. As I’ve said many times, Bruce is a nice guy, but we simply had a different view on my role with the Ducks."
"Anything I would do differently? I don’t think so," Boudreau said. "I’m looking at that certain instant and who can help us win the game the most and obviously, it was a really tough decision in Game 6 to sit him but I at that time, I thought it might give us a boost somewhere along the line."
A future Hall of Famer, Selanne still had the competitive fire of a player half his age, but his body couldn’t quite match that level of intensity every day. Boudreau and general manager Bob Murray said that in the postseason, when adrenaline and emotions are running at an all-time high, all of Selanne’s frustrations finally boiled over.
"Teemu was frustrated last year," Murray said. "We all know Teemu and he’s such a competitor and he was frustrated that his last year didn’t go quite the way he wanted it to go and he was frustrated at the end of the year. It’s just Teemu being Teemu."
Selanne felt that captain Ryan Getzlaf should have lobbied on his behalf for more playing time to Boudreau. Getzlaf insists that the two are still on good terms — Selanne recently played in his charity golf event — and hasn’t read through the entire list of qualms yet. He still respects his former teammate’s legacy, but he also feels that there was more to the story than what Selanne asserts.
"Teemu doesn’t know all of the discussions that I’ve had the locker room with Bruce for the last two years," Getzlaf said. "There’s been many a time where I’ve went to bat for him but there’s times where I have to step away and let the coach and the GM make the decision and that’s part of my job as a captain, I have to take the good with the bad."
Whether or not Teemu agreed with how the organization handled him in the final season of his 23-year career, Murray and Boudreau felt that their handling of the situation was in the best interest of the team. There were certain agreements made between Selanne and Murray and Selanne and Boudreau — such as the agreement to rest him during the second game of a back-to-back series — and the organization isn’t backing down from their claim that they honored all agreements.
It’s a sad ending to a relationship between one of the classiest players and classiest organizations in the NHL, but it’s clear that Selanne’s competitive flame never burnt out.
"When you’re a great player all your life, you want him to want more and to be the best player on the ice," Boudreau said. "So I understand where he comes from, I didn’t like to hear that in the book, but I understand and I’m sure it was in frustration more than anything."