Jean-Sebastien Giguere admitted that the first trip to Anaheim this season would be special for him. After conference calls and plenty of questions about what the return would mean to him, Giguere finally was able to get down to easy part—the actual game. Sixty minutes later, the Avs were leaving just as quickly as they arrived with a strong 4-2 victory over the Ducks.
Giguere admitted that there were some nerves involved to start the game. “[I was] a little nervous,” Giguere said. “It’s been so long—it’s been two years, that’s a long time in hockey. At the same time, I was excited. I wanted to have a good performance. I am really pleased with the result. It speaks to all the guys who played in front of me.”
No matter how often coaches or teammates spouted off clichés about this being “just another game,” the return to Anaheim was anything but an average game for Giguere over the course of a long, 82-game season. It’s wasn’t just the return—it was the fan’s reaction to Giguere’s return.
In case there was any doubt, the former Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup champion returned to a hero’s welcome on Saturday night. “I was pretty touched,” the Avs netminder said. “I wasn’t necessarily expecting a bad reaction, but I’m glad that people reacted that way. Obviously, I consider this place my second home – my kids were born here so it means a lot to me when I come back here. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Ducks fans, they’ve always been amazing to me. I’ve never really gotten a chance to say thanks to them, obviously, so thank you guys.”
Here’s the video montage that the Ducks organization put together for the Honda Center crowd early in the first period.
Over the last week, the Minnesota Wild have been on the wrong side of a few decisions from the NHL disciplinary office. No, they haven’t see a few of their players relegated to the press box with suspensions; but they have seen a few of their players sidelined by borderline hits. The frustrating part for some fans in Minnesota is that in each case, Brendan Shanahan ruled that the offending opponent did not deserve supplemental discipline.
Today, Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune caught up with the Shanahan to talk about the recent trend of decisions that have gone against the Wild. The NHL suspension master told Wild GM Chuck Fletcher that it doesn’t “escape me that this has now happened to your club three times.’… I can’t suspend a guy because he hit the wrong guy on the wrong team. [Fletcher] understood. Hey, it’s a tough call. You’re calling a GM the day after he loses one of his best defensemen to an injury. It’s not a pleasant job that we do. But we do it everyday.”
The hits in question were a dangerous shove from behind by Cody McLeod that injured Jared Spurgeon, another dangerous play by Lennart Petrell on Marek Zidlicky, and finally borderline hit by Zach Bogosian on Pierre-Marc Bouchard. On their own, they were all questionable plays that have gone either way. When each and every one of the hits went unpunished, there was a little frustration bubbling under the surface in the State of Hockey.
This open conversation is just another example of the great transparency that Shanahan has brought to the NHL offices. Obviously, no decision maker is going to admit to any bias, but he took the time to address a market that may have concerns and explain his thought process for each of his judgments. Fans may agree or disagree with the final decision, but at least everyone understands the factors that contributed to the decision.
The 66-year-old Bernie Parent may have said it best. After stopping all six shots he faced in about four minutes of play in the NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game, the Flyers legend exited stage right for the last time to a memorable standing ovation. Always a man who was quick with a joke, Bernie Parent had this to say about his afternoon in the sun: “I’m still in my prime.”
The 45,000+ fans took full advantage of their opportunity to salute the man that brought a pair of Vezinas, a pair of Conn Smythes, and a pair of Stanley Cups to the City of Brotherly Love. The only thing that was missing was a sign that said: “Only Jesus saves more than Bernie Parent.”
Check out his sendoff here.