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Selanne Lifts Cup, and a Reporter Smiles

Even as an impartial observer, I couldn't stop smiling when the "Finnish Flash" hoisted the Stanley Cup over his head last night.

I've always appreciated Teemu Selanne's speed and skill. And, being a car guy myself, I've always appreciated his collection of sports cars, which in the past included a Ferrari, Viper and 911 Turbo, among others. I was also amused by the story of him making good on a years-old promise, flying 16 of his childhood friends over from Finland to watch the Finals.

But those are not the only reasons I was happy to see him finally get a championship after 15 years.

Selanne is one of the good guys in hockey. Always smiling, always willing to talk to a fan or a scribe, even one from out of town, after a tough loss.

As a sports reporter, there are certain encounters with athletes and coaches you'll never forget. Like the time Doc Gooden stared me down in the Yankees clubhouse for asking a rather harmless question, or Pat Riley screaming at me for asking about the playoff brawl with the Knicks.

Stuff like that sticks with you.

So do moments like this: Years ago, a young New York Times reporter went to Anaheim to write a story about Paul Kariya, the Ducks star winger and a close friend of Selanne's.

Selanne didn't attend the morning skate that day, so I had to get him after the game. As luck would have it, the Ducks lost. And Selanne, nursing a minor injury, spent 30 minutes with the trainer afterward. That generally means no interview, especially when the athlete doesn't know the reporter.

Still, I waited. Until I was the last person in the dressing room at The Pond. He eventually came out of the trainer's room, and judging from the look on his face, was in no mood to talk. But I went up to him anyway, and told him how I was from NY and I wanted to talk about Paul.

Selanne stopped, took a seat, and answered all of my questions.

The article turned out okay thanks to Selanne, who spoke in great detail about Kariya. (Kariya wasn't speaking to the media at the time, if I remember correctly.)

Over the years, I've heard lots of similar stories about Selanne. So I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only person smiling along with him last night.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  June 7, 2007; 8:23 AM ET
 
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Comments

Good game to end the season on overall. Awesome moment with Selanne on the bench. That's what the playoffs are all about. That's a feeling I get from no other sport. The passion just is unmatched.

Anyone else think the NHL might come back with some changes? Bigger nets or smaller goalies or something?

T-Bash, how much pressure do you think Bettmann is under to do something?

Posted by: Bohemian El-Bashirsody | June 7, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I was rooting for the Sens but couldn't help and be happy for Selanne. A great player, a great guy.
Go Teemu!

Posted by: Scai | June 7, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

OMG, Tarik, you brought tears to my eyes. What a great post. You're too good for the Post.

Posted by: Doodler | June 7, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Congrats to the Ducks!
I love that building and last night it was MOVING.
Congrats to Randy Carlyle too. He sucked as a coach when he was with the Caps....glad he turned it around and won it.

Posted by: caphcky | June 7, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I was pulling for the Sens, too.

But the backup consolation in my mind was that Selanne would get his name on it if the Ducks won. That, and it's nice that a good guy like Neidermayer/Scott get's out of the NJ/Brodeaur shadow, and prove that he's not a Cup winnner in front of one of the best goalies of all time.

I also liked the fact that all but Scott were first time winners.

Credit should go to whoever decided not to make the on-ice presentation/celebration events a zoo. There were only a handful of photographers on the ice, and any family was confined to the bench area. The victors should be allowed to skate around and hoist the Cup without going through a left-wing media lock.

Posted by: Kim | June 7, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Great post Tarik! Something about Selanne's mannerisms and behavior remind me of A.O. Do you agree?

Posted by: zednik27 | June 7, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

i couldnt help but laugh when bettman came out on the ice. he's such a tool and very awkward

Posted by: ngu | June 7, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully this could translate into some better headway for the whole NHL in the California market. The Ducks completely outplayed Ottowa every step of the way.

Great story about The Flash.

Posted by: EricS | June 7, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Great post / story T ! Your posts and articles have really been great... much appreciated from us hockey fans.

I always remember a story I read about how Teemu gets a lot of speeding tickets in Finland, and how by Finnish law traffic fines are based on two factors: the severity of the offense and the driver's income. So his speeding infractions turned out to be ridiculously high. It's to do with the wealthy having to suffer as much as the poor... oh yeah, he was a kindergarten teacher once and owns a Ferarri Enzo - NICE!

Posted by: Caps Fan | June 7, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

im only reading this story online, but is the article and the picture of selanne even on the front page of the posts sports page?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 7, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Selanne is truly a class act. NHL marketing (which is an oxymoron) should push stories about players like him.

Posted by: Rink Raith | June 7, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Nhl should come back with bigger rinks and smaller goalie pads.

Posted by: Matt | June 7, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Perkeleen hienoa!
As we Finns like to say!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 7, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I hoped that after his season with the Avalanche the Caps would pick him up. I thought he'd fetch a good price after that escapade. Tarik, what's the backstory on that colorado team? Why did he have such a bad year? I remember that ESPN was doing a doc on the Avs that year but I never saw the second half. Was there one? I'm curious.

I didn't get to see the trophy bit until this morning, when I watched it on the dvr. Bettman seemed to not want to let go and wanted to hoist the trophy too. Scotty didn't seem to like that at all!

Posted by: M | June 7, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I agree with most of what was said above, but especially Matt's remark; I would add that Brett Hull is best seen and not heard.

More Selanne, less Hull!

GREAT post Tarik, it's cool reading your stories.

Posted by: Clarendon | June 7, 2007 8:47 PM | Report abuse

How a guy who gets paid to watch hockey could be so wrong, I'll never know. And now, without further ado, I give you Tarik the Magnificent:

Stanley On His Way Back to Canada

"There's no longer any doubt, in my mind at least, that Ottawa is the NHL's best team.

I felt that way six weeks ago when I wrote that the Sens would win the Cup in six games over Detroit. And I feel even stronger about that prediction after watching last night's 1-0 victory over Sabres, which gave them a commanding three games to none lead in the Eastern Conference final. The Sens may not have quite as much speed or skill as Buffalo, but they've definitely got more grit. And grit wins 1-0 playoff games."

Posted by: Jacques Plante | June 8, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

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