Teemu Selanne

Getty Images

The Buzzer: Avs keep winning thanks to MacKinnon

1 Comment

Three Stars

1. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

It’s hard to imagine there being all that many hot takes sizzling out there about MacKinnon not being able to dominate on his own, but if they existed, they’ve gone ice cold as the speedster continues to score with Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog on the shelf. (Among others.)

The Blackhawks had little hope of slow MacKinnon down – literally and figuratively – as he scored one goal and three assists, with two of those helpers being of the primary variety.

J.T. Compher had a strong game as well with a goal and two assists, while Pavel Francouz made 34 out of 36 saves.

2. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

The Predators have an elite defense, but at times, that label is more about how much they can drive offense (and serve as a net-positive) more than it is about always locking teams down, at least now that we’re firmly in the Peter Laviolette era.

With that in mind, Rinne, in particular, has been crucial to Nashville’s success. So, when he struggles (18 goals allowed in his last four games heading into Friday, with only one full game during that time), it’s a Rinne-sized worry.

Maybe Friday can serve as a confidence-booster? He made 31 saves to shut out a tough Hurricanes team, hitting some significant milestones in the process. Consider these some early factoids: Rinne became the 22nd goalie to reach 350 career wins, and this marked his 58th shutout, tying him for 19th in NHL history.

3. Gustav Nyquist, Columbus Blue Jackets

For all the CBJ lost during the offseason, they made a reasonable pickup by adding Nyquist’s skill and smarts to their mix.

After a respectable-but-unspectacular October, Nyquist scored 12 of his 18 points during 13 November games. Friday was the highlight, as Nyquist generated a hat trick as the Blue Jackets beat the Penguins. Considering how much John Tortorella seems to dislike the Pens, that’s a triply delicious accomplishment.

The only thing that keeps Nyquist from advancing up this list is that one of his three goals was an empty-netter.

Highlights of the Night

David Pastrnak‘s fantastic overtime setup can be seen in the overall highlights of the Bruins’ OT win against the Rangers:

To spread the wealth a little bit, enjoy Brenden Dillon setting up Noah Gregor for one heck of a first NHL goal. This is like a … well, luckier version of Erik Karlsson‘s memorable setup for Mike Hoffman from a few years back.

Factoids

  • NHL PR notes that Henrik Lundqvist is the only goalie with more shutouts (63) than Pekka Rinne (58) since Rinne came into the league in 2005-06.
  • David Pastrnak scored 12+ goals for the second consecutive month. Via NHL PR: only three other players have managed that during the first two months of a season: Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Mike Bossy.
  • Maybe don’t sit on a lead against the Capitals? Washington already has five wins in games where they trailed by multiple goals in 2019-20, the most of any team, according to NHL PR. Alex Ovechkin scored his 255th career power-play goal, tying Teemu Selanne for third-most in NHL history. Brett Hull is second all-time with 265 PPG, while Dave Andreychuk has the record with 274. Feels like a healthy Ovechkin could blow those totals out of the water, right?
  • Sportsnet stats with another interesting Ovechkin nugget:

Scores

BOS 3 – NYR 2 (OT)
BUF 6 – TOR 4
PHI 6 – DET 1
COL 5 – CHI 2
MIN 7 – OTT 2
WPG 3 – ANA 0
SJS 4 – LAK 1
WSH 4 – TBL 3 (OT)
VGK 2 – ARI 1 (SO)
CBJ 5 – PIT 2
NSH 3 – CAR 0
STL 3 – DAL 1

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Q&A: Teemu Selanne on his new book, life as a hockey dad

2 Comments

Teemu Selanne has kept busy since retiring from the NHL in 2014 following a 21-season career. The Finnish Flash still regularly plays golf and tennis and tends to his two restaurants in Orange County. Lately, he’s been busy promoting his book, “My Life,” which released an updated English version in October.

Selanne and author Ari Mennander started writing the book in the early 2000s, and while the Hall of Fame forward continued his commitment to playing on a mostly year-by-year basis, he didn’t want the project to be finished until his playing days were over. The Finnish version came out in 2014 and the English version was updated with more stories about his life and career.

Recalling his days growing up in Espoo, Finland and representing his country at the international level, and then having a very successful NHL career helped Selanne remember some memories that had faded from his mind.

“That was the best part of it, that you could almost live through those things again,” Selanne told NBC Sports this week. “Good things and bad things and you get those flashbacks. Even your body’s [reacting.] You got those goosebumps sometimes when you talk about something great. It was a pretty cool process; a lot of work, though, but I think it was worth it.”

We spoke with Selanne about his new book, his magnificent rookie season in Winnipeg, life as a hockey dad, and more.

Enjoy.

PHT: Who gave you the ‘Teddy Flash’ nickname when you were rally racing?

SELANNE: “Early ‘90s, my best friend was driving rally cars and I went first just watching him when he practiced and then he let me drive. Then I got really itchy to start racing myself, too. Obviously, I couldn’t [race]. You’re not supposed to do anything dangerous, so we decided to come up with a name they couldn’t recognize. But it didn’t last very long. After the first race everybody knew it was me. ‘Teddy Flash’ comes from ‘Finnish Flash.’ I think it was a good idea, it just didn’t work very well.”

PHT: Players who were represented by him and general managers who dealt with him have had nothing but great things to say about the late Don Baizley. What was it like to be represented by him?

SELANNE: “I was so lucky that I had Don as my agent. He was way more than an agent, he was like a father figure as well. He lived in Winnipeg and had a lot of Finnish and Swedish players as clients. He knew the background. Such a classy guy. Even GMs, they all respected him so much. He did everything in a fair way. He always tried to make sure when he made a deal that both sides were happy. He cared so much.”

PHT: Going back to your rookie season in 1992-93… With all the attention around your arrival in Winnipeg, what helped you keep focus that season to put up those numbers on such a regular basis? After a while everyone expected you to score every night.

SELANNE: “First of all, I was lucky when I went there the table was set up for me. I got to play with the best players right away. Our team was not one of the best teams in the league so it was very easy to break in and get the big role right away. The old saying is you’re exactly as good as your coach wants you to be. They gave me a green light to be a superstar right away. I was so hungry, too, to show myself and prove to everybody that I can play well and have this kind of success. Of course, not 76 goals like that, but playing a great season. 

“The first season, guys like Phil Housley and Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhamnov, those guys made my game so much easier. It was like a snowball going down the hill with the confidence. I just wanted more and more and more. What a year that was.”

PHT: Jarmo Kekalainen was a teammate of yours on the national team, but was also a big help during your move to North America. How did he help you get comfortable?

SELANNE: “He was my teammate and wanted to make sure that when I [got] there my language, especially my hockey language, that I’m not going to have any problems. We did a little language session for four days. He gave me a bunch of papers with examples of how [media] interviews go and how to be humble. I used that same format for the first three years. It worked great.”

PHT: You were a little older when you arrived in the NHL. Nowadays it’s not rare to see 18 years old jump right in, like Kaapo Kakko and Patrik Laine. Do you think you could have handled life as an NHLer, far away from home, when you were 18?

SELANNE: “Not a chance. The time has changed. I came to [training] when I was 18 and I wasn’t ready to come here. The way the young guys get prepared now, they’re ready as an 18-year-old. It’s so impressive. Maybe on the ice I could have some success, but mentally and as a man, there’s no way. I’m still worried about the young guys, like when things go well, they don’t really need help. But when stuff goes a little bit south and you start losing the confidence, how ready are those guys really at 18? … I would never feel comfortable to come over as an 18-year-old.”

PHT: The game is so fast now, even five years after you retired. How do you think a 22-year-old Teemu would do in the NHL in 2019-20?

SELANNE: “I would do great, no question. The thing is, I think that today’s hockey is made for a guy like myself. It’s all about speed and skill. When I came to the league I was way faster than 95% of the players — the big, strong, slow defensemen. But there was so much holding and grabbing and hooking, it made the job so much tougher. I know that I would enjoy today’s hockey more than back then.”

PHT: Two of your sons are still playing hockey (Leevi with the NA3HL Texas Jr. Brahamas and Eetu with Curry College). How have you found life as a hockey dad? Are you more nervous before one of their games than you were for your own?

SELANNE: “Not really. I just watch and laugh. Going through everything again with my sons, I realize how hard it is [today]. I thought it was way easier because of my road, my journey was so smooth. But now I realize how much politics [are at play] and how much it takes and to have the coaching early. … You need that help. You need those opportunities to show what you can do. As a player, you need that confidence from a coach and to feel that I’m going to have success. Without that, I don’t care who you are, you can’t have success.”

PHT:  How often do you give them feedback or do you sit back and allow them to learn from mistakes?

SELANNE: “Well, I tried to give feedback… my three boys, two of them, they were listening very carefully. But my one doesn’t believe anything I say. I always try to remind him, ‘Hey, I know how this game works’ and he still says ‘Ah, that’s not true.’ Well, whatever. 

“That’s what my dad did. We always talked about hockey and he was very smart. When I was playing bad, he always found something very positive about my game. And when I thought I was playing unbelievable he would start finding something I could do better and I always thought he was crazy. After a while, when I got older, I realized how smart that was. When I thought I was a little high, he brought me back to my feet, and when I was a little down he’d just lift me up.”

PHT: Finally, do you want to get back into hockey in a full-time capacity?

SELANNE: “It’s funny, I’ve been waiting to see if I got any itch about going back, but so far no. It’s a big commitment. You can’t go there at 50 or 60 or 70%. You almost need the same passion like you had as a hockey player. Right now, I feel no, but you never know.”

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL players’ favorite Stanley Cup memories as fans

3 Comments

Leading up to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final (Monday, 8 p.m. ET, NBC), Pro Hockey Talk will be looking at every aspect of the matchup between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.

Not every player has photos of themselves as young fans in team-appropriate jammies like John Tavares with the Toronto Maple Leafs, so it can be fun and surprising to hear about their memories. Sometimes you’d be surprised to learn more about a players’ roots, and rooting interests.

In the fun video above, a variety of NHL players share some of their favorite Stanley Cup memories. You’ll see some expected moments, such as Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson recalling Mark Messier and the 1994 New York Rangers lifting that curse. The video also reminds us of how dominant the Colorado Avalanche were, as evidenced by a reminiscent Ryan Reaves. And, shield your eyes, Sabres fans, as a foot is, again, in the crease.

There are some other interesting touches. One mildly sad aspect is that Canadian NHL’ers P.K. Subban and Tyler Seguin point to a Doug Gilmour wraparound goal … even though it wasn’t associated with a Stanley Cup win.

You also might be intrigued to learn who mentioned Chris Pronger battling Dustin Byfuglien during the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, which player pointed to Teemu Selanne’s tearful Stanley Cup win, and some other moments. You may also notice a much younger Gary Bettman during certain moments.

It’s good stuff overall, so enjoy.

STANLEY CUP FINAL PREVIEW
Who has the better special teams?
Who has the better forwards?
Who has the better defensemen?
X-factors
PHT Power Rankings: Conn Smythe favorites
Stanley Cup Final 2019 schedule, TV info

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2017 grew the game in many ways

Getty Images
4 Comments

The Hockey Hall of Fame will induct its 2017 class Monday night in Toronto. The seven individuals who will be enshrined include five players and two builders.

Clare Drake, Jeremy Jacobs, Dave Andreychuk, Danielle Goyette, Paul Kariya, Mark Recchi and Teemu Selanne will join the many other legends inside the old bank building on Yonge Street forever. Their contributions as a whole, no matter their position in hockey, helped grow the game to what it’s known as today.

Builder

Clare Drake — The most successful coach in Canadian university hockey history won six national championships in 28 years at the University of Alberta. He retired in 1989 with a record of 697-296-37, which comes out to a .695 winning percentage. Drake not only contributed at the university level, he also spent time at the professional level with a year coaching the Edmonton Oilers in the WHA in 1975-76, working as a Winnipeg Jets assistant in 1989-90 and helping out the Dallas Stars during the 2001 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was also behind the bench for Canada’s entry at the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. Drake’s last legacy may be his role in developing players and educating coaches through his contributions to the Canadian Coaching Certification Program.

Jeremy Jacobs — Since purchasing the Boston Bruins since 1975, the franchise has made the Stanley Cup Final six times, winning once. He’s been Chairman of the NHL Board of Governors for the last 10 years was the recipient of the Lester Patrick Trophy in 2015 for his “outstanding service to hockey in the United States.”

Player

Dave Andreychuk — Only 13 players in NHL history have scored more goals than Andreychuk, who put up 640 in 1,639 NHL games. Of those 640 goals, 274 came on the power play, the most in NHL history. A two-time All-Star and 2004 Stanley Cup champion with the Tampa Bay Lightning, ‘Andy’ hit the 50-goal mark twice in his career. It also hard to imagine many of his goals that weren’t scored from around the blue paint.

Danielle Goyette — A two-time Olympic goal medalist and eight-time winner at the World Championship as part of Team Canada, Goyette hung up her skates with 113 goals and 105 assists in 171 games representing her country. During the 1998 Olympics, she led all players with eight goals. Four years later, in helping Canada win gold, she tied for the scoring lead with 10 points. In 2006, as she helped her country to a second straight gold, she was selected as flag bearer during the Opening Ceremonies. Currently, Goyette is the second-leading scorer in women’s Olympic history with 15 goals.

Paul Kariya — Kariya’s hockey accomplishments didn’t just come while part of the NHL. Before he was drafted fourth overall by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, he won the World Junior Championship with Canada and later the NCAA title with Maine in 1993. A year later he would win gold at the World Championship and in 2002 was part of the Olympic winning Canadian side at the Salt Lake Games. Eleven games shy of 1,000 games for his career, he finished with 402 goals and 989 points — on the dot to be a point per game player over his career. A two-time Lady Byng winner and seven-time All-Star, Kariya is well-remembered for his goal during the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, which came 10 minutes after a vicious hit from Scott Stevens of the New Jersey Devils:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5QEVPWfxcY%5D

Mark Recchi —One of four players in NHL history to play more than 1,700 games, Recchi enters the Hall as a five-time Stanley Cup champion, three of which came during his playing career. He’s one of 10 players in history to win a title on three different NHL teams, and his career ended with 577 goals and 1,533 points. Outside of a 15-game first NHL year, he scored double digit goals in 21 straight seasons.

Teemu Selanne —Selanne introduced himself to the NHL world in spectacular fashion with a 76-goal, Calder Trophy winning rookie season in 1992-93. The goals continued over the next 22 years as the “Finnish Flash” scored 684 of them, good for 11th all-time. He’s also the all-time leading scorer in Olympic history with 43 points in 37 games. His trophy case is filled with one Stanley Cup, a Masterton Trophy, Rocket Richard Trophy, four bronze and one silver Olympic medals, and silver and bronze from the World Championship, among many other honors. We all, of course, remember the goal and celebration that helped him break the rookie goal scoring record in 1993:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vtk6yVqDy3Q%5D

Also being honored in Toronto are Cam Cole, winner of the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award “in recognition of distinguished members of the newspaper profession whose words have brought honor to journalism and to hockey” as selected by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, and late NHL play-by-play man Dave Strader, who is this year’s Foster Hewitt Memorial Award honoree for his outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster.

What are you favorite memories from this year’s inductees?

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

PHT Morning Skate: Selanne weighs in on the Ducks sweep of the Jets

3 Comments

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Teemu Selanne, who spent portions of his career in both Winnipeg and Anaheim, weighed in on the Ducks sweep of the Jets following Wednesday’s game. The Finnish Flash believes the Jets have a bright future while the Ducks were simply the better team in the series.

Editor’s Note: Play one-day fantasy hockey tonight! Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $25,000 league for Thursday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first place wins $2,000. Starts tonight at 7:00pm ET. Play Now!

Fighting may be down in the NHL and the role of the enforcer diminishing, but that won’t stop the production of a sequel to the movie “Goon”. “Goon 2” is expected to start shooting in June. (Bar Down)

Sticking with the fighting theme, here’s a look at the new Grantland documentary “Knuckes vs. Numbers”, which focuses on the dying breed of enforcers in the game:

The Val-d’Or Foreurs, who trailed their Quebec Major Junior Hockey League best-of-seven series with Baie-Comeau Drakkar 3-0, battled all the way back to win the series in seven games. However, following the Foreurs’ Game 7 victory, the traditional handshake line was scrapped. (The Hockey News)

One of the worst shootout attempts ever occurred in a recent Division 2A IIHF game between Serbia and Spain. Marko Milovanovic was apparently a little too excited to get his attempt started. Have a look: