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.
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