|'Finnish Flash' keeps long-ago promise to friends|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 28 May 2007 14:20|
The ``Finnish Flash'' had his own rooting section Monday for the opener of the Stanley Cup finals, and those fans were easy to pick out of the crowd.
Dressed in bright orange T-shirts with ``Teemu'' written across the front, 16 of Selanne's childhood friends cheered him during his first appearance in the finals in his 14-year NHL career.
``It was 15 or 14 years ago, before I came to the NHL, I said if I ever got to the Stanley Cup finals, they would come too,'' said Selanne, who at 36 is the oldest player in the series. ``They have good memories.''
Selanne said they've all been friends since they were about 6 or 7, motioning with his hand by his knee to estimate their height at the time they met.
While he was happy to have them in Anaheim to share this special time in his career, he was quick to point out they wouldn't be staying at his house during the finals. They won't be following him when the series shifts to Ottawa, either.
As much pull as Selanne might have after leading the Ducks this season with 48 goals and 94 points, he couldn't get them 16 seats together.
``There is like five, three, two, one, one,'' he said. ``It's hard to get tickets. I think they will have their shirts on. They gave me one and I said, 'I will try this on later.'''
DUCK POOL: A fender-bender on the way to the rink could be disastrous for Anaheim's Stanley Cup hopes: defensemen Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, each a finalist for his second Norris Trophy; goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, and forward Rob Niedermayer, Scott's younger brother, car pool to work.
Pronger's routinely at the wheel.
``Chris usually drives, so he controls the radio. We sit in the back and Chris sits in the front. It's a big limousine-type thing,'' Scott said, then added with a smile, ``No, it's a sedan.''
Giguere enjoys the company.
``It's fun driving with Pronger and Scotty and Robbie,'' he said. ``They're real leaders. For me, it's kind of sitting and listening to them and trying to get some good advice. And we save a whole lot of time, with the traffic around here.''
Scott said sometimes the ride is quiet, with the quartet focusing on getting ready for the game.
``There is a lot of awkward silence. Well, not awkward but there is silence,'' he said. ``I don't think there is a lot of discussion. Sometimes there is. My brother and Chris sometimes are talking football and stuff like that.''
Scott, at 33 the senior member of the group, makes sure everyone has their seat belts buckled, and said speeding tickets are not a problem.
``There is no speeding on the way to the rink at 5 o'clock,'' he said, alluding to the rush-hour crawl, even in the car pool lane.
EURO CUP? The Senators' Daniel Alfredsson, who was born in Goteborg, Sweden, has a chance to become the first team captain from Europe to hoist the Stanley Cup since Peter Stastny, from Czechoslovakia, became the league's first European captain with the Quebec Nordiques in 1985. Alfredsson is the first to make it to the NHL championship round.
BRI(Y)AN'S TEAM: Anaheim GM Brian Burke gives credit where it's due, and in the case of the current Ducks, that's to Ottawa coach Bryan Murray.
Talking about some of Anaheim's younger players such as Corey Perry, Dustin Penner and Ryan Getzlaf, Burke said, ``I've never talked about those kids once without mentioning I didn't draft any of them, I didn't sign any of them.
``Those are Bryan Murray's decisions to have them here and he deserves credit for them being here.''
Murray was the Ducks' coach in 2001-02 season, and their GM the following season when they made their first appearance in the Cup finals, losing to New Jersey in Game 7. He left Anaheim to return to the bench in Ottawa, the area where he grew up.
Murray returned Burke's compliments.
``He's done a real good job. He's kind of put this team together, put a good coaching staff together in a hurry. And obviously it's paid great dividends for him.''