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Barkov eager to play alongside ‘idol’ Selanne

Feb 12, 2014, 9:02 AM EDT

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LAKE PLACID, NY - AUGUST 07: Aleksander Barkov #16 of Team Finland skates against Team Sweden at the USA hockey junior evaluation camp at the Lake Placid Olympic Center on August 7, 2012 in Lake Placid, New York. Team Sweden defeated Finland 8-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) Getty Images

With Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula unavailable due to injuries, the Finnish team plans to rely heavily on 43-year-old forward Teemu Selanne. He’s going to be getting top minutes while playing with a pair of forwards whose combined age doesn’t even reach his own.

That suits Selanne fine as he thinks that playing with youngsters helps keep him youthful and it certainly works for 18-year-old Aleksander Barkov. His rookie campaign with the Florida Panthers has been paused while he lives out a dream.

“(Selanne’s) always been one of my idols,” said Barkov, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I have been always watching him play and he’s a legend. So I will enjoy every moment to play with him.”

‘Always’ doesn’t have to be an exaggeration in Barkov’s case, given that Selanne’s NHL started in 1992-93 and Barkov was born in 1995. Mikael Granlund, 21, will round out the unit and he’s naturally one of many that has been impressed by Selanne’s talent and longevity.

Despite that ability to fight back the aging process for so long, Selanne has been very open about the fact that this will be his last season and, in turn, his last Olympic games. It’s why he agreed to captain the team this time around after declining that honor in the past.

“I felt you know, maybe it’s time,” he said.

As for Barkov, he’s happy that in spite of the odds against it, he’s here firsthand, to be part of that time and shape the early chapters of his own story while he’s at it.

Related:

Closing the generation gap: Selanne to play on Finland’s top line with Barkov, Granlund

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