Posts Tagged ‘Anaheim Ducks’


One of Finland’s biggest hockey stars, Saku Koivu has called it a career today. Koivu, during his NHL career was a huge inspiration for me as a player and that I wanted to model myself after. I wanted to be a reliable two-way player, just like Koivu. The reason why Saku Koivu became such an inspiration to me was because we were both the same size and stature. Koivu proved that he could play like a big player, night in, night out, sometimes at a high cost, which lead to his injury history.

 

Koivu’s stature made him an extremely hard worker off the ice, which is how I wanted to model myself as a player. His dedication for the sport, despite battling difficult injuries or cancer, was immense and it was largely thanks to Koivu’s return from cancer that inspired me to take up the sport again, after I had fallen out of love with it. I remember thinking to myself: “If he comes back from cancer, what’s stopping me from coming back from a knee injury.”

 

As the Captain of the Canadiens, Koivu taught me a lot about leadership. Watching him in press scrums during the Canadiens’ woeful years, he conducted himself with class, despite carrying the hopes of an entire province on his back. Koivu always lead with example on the ice, whether it was for the Habs or for the Finnish national team, which I always aspired to do for my own team. It was leaving your heart out on to the ice after every game you played.

 

Where Koivu may not have reached the heights of the NHL’s scoring charts, he was a widely respected player across the entire league. One of those players that no-one had nothing but good things to say. Koivu was never a big fan of being in the spotlight, despite shouldering the C for the Canadiens for the better part of a decade.

 

There was a story about the Koivu brothers in the Finnish media which said that they absolutely hate losing and the reporter – whose name escapes me – said that Saku and Mikko are the types of players that hate losing so much, that the loss will eat at them for months and will fuel their desire to succeed. It is exactly what a great leader should be all about. Hating losing so much, you push yourself and your team to the limit so that you can win again. And again. And again.

 

Whilst Saku may not read this, I wanted to – in some way – acknowledge and thank him for the inspiration he provided me with for my own career, how you need to prepare as an athlete of a smaller stature and how to be a leader.

 

Kiitos, Saku


There has been renewed rumours and discussion about Teemu Selanne joining Jokerit for its inaugural KHL season. The rumour has been floating around since Jokerit announced that it would join the league for the 2014-2015 season. The rumours got more wind under its wings after Jokerit GM and Teemu’s friend, Jari Kurri said that he would sit down with Selanne when he is in Finland to discuss it seriously and find out if Teemu has the drive to play “one more year”.

 

During the NHL play-offs there was talk of Teemu’s KHL career when a Russian news paper quoted Teemu saying that it was entirely possible. However, after the bitter game seven loss to LA Kings, Selanne admitted that it is unlikely and has spoken about what activities await him in Anaheim after his career is finished.

 

This is purely speculation, but I think Selanne is unlikely to join the Jokerit team because:

 

1) It is far away from his home in California and it is unlikely that he will want to uproot his family for a year and disrupt his kids’ school. It would be likely that should Teemu choose to play in the KHL, his family would stay behind in Anaheim. As a family man, does he want to leave his family for the whole season?

 

2) It is a lot of travel and Teemu has admitted that sometimes he has feared travelling when having to fly in adverse weather. Combine that with the long haul away trips that could potentially be flown with Russian planes that have a questionable reputation since the Lokomotiv air disaster.

 

3) Teemu has a desire to win. I doubt that Jokerit will be able to muster together a team that will challenge for the Gagarin Cup. I would anticipate that the team will be strong, but not a championship contender.

 

4)Where I think that Selanne would be able to compete and play to a high level at the KHL, given what we saw of him in Sochi, the whole “let’s bring in Selanne” motto sounds like a big marketing ploy than anything else. Would I pay money to see Teemu Selanne play in my native? Absolutely! He is an enigmatic person and has a lot of pull both on the ice and off it.

 

5) Does he really “need” to play? No! At almost 44-years old, Selanne has given his everything as a player. He has ample knowhow and knowledge that can be used elsewhere within the game and I think he has more than earned his retirement. There is life outside of hockey and he, if anyone has deserved it.

 

I’m not saying Selanne couldn’t play at the KHL level. He proved that he could play in the NHL, even if Bruce Boudreau decided that Selanne can play in a diminished role. The Olympics showed that Selanne is still an offensive threat.

 

How I would like to see Selanne utilised? He has told Urheilu-Sanomat’s editor in chief Vesa Rantanen that he wants to set up a goal scoring clinic where he would teach Finnish junior players the art of scoring. Getting the insight from a man who has notched over 680 goals in the NHL is something that would be awe-inspiring.

 

I’ve seen a few videos of Selanne where he discusses junior training and sports in general and it is hugely interesting. The man has a knowledge base and the background that could be used to develop players on a national level, if not work with young prospects in the NHL. Let’s not forget that Teemu Selanne’s career was pretty much over by the 04-05 Lock out. However, after undergoing knee surgery and completely changing how he trains to get back to the top talks volumes of how Selanne can help the younger players achieve more.

 

Where Selanne may not win a Stanley Cup as a player, I think it is entirely possible that he will add a few rings to his collection in a front office role. In an ideal world, I would like to see Teemu Selanne, Jere Lehtinen, Saku Koivu and Ville Nieminen set up a think tank to improve the quality of Finnish hockey players and set up a sort of programme of excellence.

 

One can dream.

Whilst we wait for further news on Selanne’s plans, I think I’m not alone in saying that he has deserved his retirement.


As the NHL Playoffs have kicked off, I wanted to do something that I have been planning on doing for a while now. The Playoffs are a special kind of event, not seen in any other sport. The teams that have made it have battled through a gruelling 82 game regular season and now they have the opportunity of their lives to play for the Stanley Cup, a second season if you will, where you have to give even more than you already have during the regular season.

I could wax poetic about what an absolute war the NHL playoffs are and how the guys going through them are absolute warriors. As hockey fans we all know what it takes to play in the playoffs and the insurmountable amount physical sacrifices the guys make to reach the cup.

However, with the playoffs, I wanted to list some of my favourite moments and memories from the Stanley Cup playoffs and finals. Please note that these are moments that have really hit home with me and have made a grown man well up.

For me it is moments like these that make the Playoffs so special and the place where legends are born. These are in no particular order of favouritism or what would be my standout memory.

1. Teemu Selanne lifts the cup:

Maybe it is because I am looking at it through blue and white eyes, but Teemu Selanne lifting the cup is one of the best memories I have from the recent history with the cup. When Selanne got the cup on his arms you could visibly see the emotion and the relief of his quest to finally ‘win something great’, as Selanne said after the interviews.

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Selanne’s story is remarkable. Many, including Selanne himself, thought he was done after knee injuries had slowed him down, but Selanne has been spectacular since the lock out and despite his age, he is still the same Finnish Flash. Additionally what made Selanne winning the Cup more special for me was this video, where you can see just how much it means to him and to his family: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAXEoypd87Y

2. Ray Bourque finally gets the cup:

It is customary in the NHL that the Captain gets to hoist the cup first, but when the Avalanche won the cup in 2001 after game seven, it was clear that it would not be Joe Sakic who would hoist the cup as the first player on the Avalanche roster. Sakic one of the classiest moves by allowing the veteran to hoist the cup as the first player after receiving it from commissioner Bettman.

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Bourque’s Mission W16 was closely followed. The aging veteran knew that this would probably be his last go at the Cup and boy what a moment it was when Bourque lifted the cup above his shoulders. It was one of the few moments in sports when a players’ old fans from his old team truly felt happy for a player. Bourque had given a lot to Bruins and the Bruins fans were only too happy to see their hero finally hoist the cup: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-adnOYdqJg

3. Tim Thomas and Martin St.Louis hand shake 2011 playoffs

The Eastern Conference finals offered a lot of heart stopping moments and perhaps most people did not see the Tampa Bay Lightning make it that far. However, to me there was one heart stopping moment in the series and that was the handshake between Bruins’ Tim Thomas and Lightning Martin St.Louis.

Teammates in college hockey, both players have travelled different, but long roads to the NHL and have both carved their names among some of the greats in the game. St.Louis already has a cup with the Lightning from 2004, but the visible pain of not making it to the finals was evident on his face. However, when it came to the handshake, you could see how much it meant for both players. Thomas on his way to his first Stanley Cup Final and Stanley Cup victory, being greeted by his old friend and team mate.

True class: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHtovJieHGI

4. Tim Thomas hits Henrik Sedin, Stanley Cup Finals 2011:

For some reason the Tim Thomas hit on Henrik Sedin is sort of the moment where I knew that Bruins would win the Cup last year. To me it was a message to the Canucks team that they had no business getting in Thomas’ crease and that he would put up a wall in net. Though the final series went the stretch to the 7th game, to me it was obvious from that moment that Bruins would be claiming the Cup and would not accept any crap from anyone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txBVdz6UO3U&feature=related

 

5. 1994 New York Rangers

The Rangers’ Cup run is a classic. From Mark Messier promising a win to the media, to then beat Canucks in the 7th Game in MSG sent the whole of New York into a frenzy. There was Messier’s little hop behind the net in Game 7 when he scored. The joy and excitement on his face when he received the Cup. As a Finn it was a special series to follow as both the teams had a Finn in their rosters. Canucks had Jyrki Lumme and Rangers had Esa Tikkanen. For me personally, it was special as I won my first ever bet on placing a wager on the Rangers winning the series.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKusPRDCnI4

6. Oilers 1990 Stanley Cup

Growing up I was a big Oliers fan, mainly because my childhood idol Jari Kurri played for the Oilers. It wasn’t until I grew up that I learned the significance of the Cup win in 1990. Oilers had traded away Gretzky and Kurri was in a big role on the team and one of the teams’ Alternate Captains. I wasn’t able to follow the game on TV in Finland as it would’ve been WAAAAY past my bed time (what I was like 9 years old then). However, it is a special Cup memory for me because it would be the last one that Kurri won during his career.

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7. Chicago Blackhawks vs Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers vs Blackhawks series, has probably become more known for the game winning puck that went missing after the game. There were also other underlying stories that made me chuckle during the series, like Chris Pronger stealing the Blackhawks’ game winning pucks in a couple of games, or the bizarre end to Game 6 that won Blackhawks the cup, where it seemed like only one man knew where the puck was.

However, it was a picture of Flyers’ Kimmo Timonen I saw on a Finnish news paper just ahead of the Finals series, that made it memorable for me. The picture showed Timonen with a blackened eye, a bushy playoff beard and a face that screamed tiredness. However, the picture showed this burning desire in Timonen’s eyes that meant that he was ready for anything in the final series. Just that one extra push no matter how beat up his body was.

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8. Montreal Canadiens Cup run 2010

As a Canadiens fan I haven’t had much to cheer for in the last two years. Dismal seasons and early playoff exits have left a bit of a sour taste in fans’ mouths, but the Cup run of 2010 was nothing short of spectacular. Going in as the underdog team to the Eastern Conference final after dropping the Capitals and Penguins on the way to meet the Flyers, was great fun to watch.

I was recovering from a knee operation at the time and I remember fighting the anaesthetic and the painkillers’ drowsing side effects to stay awake to cheer the Canadiens on from my living room and jumping up and down on 1 leg after the Penguins were eliminated. Seeing the pictures from Montreal after the game was something that left a smile on my face for days to come.

These are just some of the fond memories that I have from the Stanley Cup playoffs and the great legends that have been born during the 8 weeks that are also known as the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I could add others such as the Bobby Orr goal, but I wanted to focus on series’ that I have seen and witnessed with my own eyes.

If you want, feel free to share your own memories of the Stanley Cup playoffs.


Teemu Selanne seems to have found the true meaning of forever young. At 41 years old, Teemu is still one of the best players in the NHL and when looking at him play, he still plays the game with the same finesse as in his rookie year.

 

A career that has seen Selanne achieve many personal accolades, he has truly been an icon for both the NHL and for Finnish hockey. After his Winnipeg career came to an end in a trade that sent him to the Anaheim Ducks, Selanne has called Anaheim his ‘happy place’. After all, he won a cup with the Ducks in 07, which stands as the absolute pinnacle of his career.

 

Despite Selanne taking seemingly longer and longer to decide whether to carry on with his career after each year, he has always come back for another shot at the cup. But with Anaheim playing the way they are, is it completely out of question that Selanne would be traded to another team at the deadline for a shot at the cup?

 

Obviously there are many contributing factors to whether we’ll see Selanne traded, but hypothetically if Anaheim are out of play-off contention by the trade deadline, I do think that Selanne could be traded. He has always said after a confirming “one more year” that he wants to play on a winning team and at the moment Anaheim are anything but.

 

Following the 7th straight defeat to Tornto Maple Leafs, Selanne was visibly frustrated and emotional in the post game interview and was not far from tears. What’s more Selanne at 41, is Ducks’ leading scorer in points. One thing is for sure, Ducks need a wake up call of some sort. Their star studded first line is nowhere to be seen and stars like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan have underperformed dramatically.

 

Dealing one of the big stars might also provide Anaheim with the desired wake-up call, or shake up of the coaching staff, though it is unlikely as Randy Carlyle has recently inked a 3 year contract with Anaheim. To be honest though, it would be high time for a new bench boss for Anaheim, since winning the cup Anaheim have started off slow and have not been able to succeed with Carlyle’s style of play.

 

For the past two years the word from Anaheim’s training camp has been that they have been too intense and that players are already gassed for the first puck drop. Firing Carlyle would definitely serve as a wake up to the struggling Ducks squad, but who would take the reigns from him? Would the Ducks promote an AHL head coach to take the NHL job, a move which has worked well for the Penguins with Bylsma or OK for the Capitals.

 

However, with Selanne, I can see three scenarios for him:

1)      He will be traded at the deadline if not before to a team with a shot for the cup/ playoff berth. I doubt that he would move to an eastern conference team so a team like San Jose or LA Kings might be a favourable destination for Selanne.

2)      Selanne will play the season with the Ducks and play for Finland in the World Championships this spring. Finland is hosting the World Championships this year and despite announcing that his international career finished in Vancouver Olympics, I could envision Selanne going back on that decision for a shot at the World Championship.

3)      Selanne will get so fed up with the way the Ducks are playing that he will announce his retirement before the season is done. He has always said that he will play as long as it is fun, and I can’t imagine that he is having that much fun at the moment with the team playing like they are. Though I think this scenario is unlikely as Selanne is a true professional and would not leave a sinking ship until he has done everything in his power to save it.

The next couple of months will show the direction Anaheim is headed, but with the rest of the pack getting further and further each game, Anaheim is in a desperate need of a shake up if they are to have any shot at the post season.