After 21 NHL seasons, Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne is still enjoying new hockey experiences.
The 43-year-old Selanne, who plans to retire after the season, on Saturday marveled at being able to participate in the first playoff series between the Ducks and the Kings. It’s the first playoff series between any of the local sports teams, since the Angels and Dodgers, the Clippers and Lakers, and the L.A. Raiders and Rams never confronted each other in postseason play.
The Kings-Ducks series starts Saturday at the Honda Center and continues there on Monday, before shifting to Staples Center for Games 3 and 4 on Thursday and May 10.
“It is funny. I was just thinking the other day that it’s kind of funny that it has never happened. Obviously, this format what we have now with the league, automatically pushed this to happen sooner or later,” Selanne said, referring to the NHL’s new, division-focused playoff setup.
“I think it’s going to be great for hockey in Southern California and both franchises. It’s huge….There’s something special about this. It’s funny that we haven’t had this in any sport. It’s good to be first.”
Selanne said he enjoyed watching the Kings rally from a 3-0 series deficit against San Jose to win the series in seven games.
“It doesn’t happen very often. It was actually fun to watch,” he said. “Every time when somebody is doing something like that, coming back from being down, 3-0, it’s remarkable. Unbelievable. Got to give a lot of credit to those guys.”
He praised the Kings’ will and called them “a team that just keeps coming.” He added, “They lost Game 3 but you could see the confidence level building higher and higher and they really started believing and almost had another gear. The Sharks, they didn’t have that.”
This first-ever Kings vs. Ducks series is also notable for a much younger member of the Ducks, Emerson Etem of Long Beach.
He grew up watching both teams and was just short of his 15th birthday when the Ducks defeated Ottawa in a five-game Stanley Cup final.
“I still see Corey Perry in that Stanley Cup game-clinching win there. Him scoring that goal, I remember like it was yesterday,” Etem said of Perry’s unassisted goal with three minutes left in the third period of a 6-2 victory.
“I just remember watching the games in the living room, hoping and dreaming that one day I could have a chance to prove myself on a level like this.”
It wasn’t clear from Saturday’s optional morning skate if Etem will play Saturday, but he’s looking forward to that possibility.
“It would be awesome,” he said. “You see too how far the programs have come since each one of us has won a Cup. The fans are definitely in it and they’re excited.”
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