It was almost two years ago to the day that Teemu Selanne helped celebrate the Ducks’ return to the playoffs by scoring the game-winning goal in Game 1 against Detroit in the first round.
Last year, he retired from the sport after the Ducks exited in the playoffs in the second round against the Kings.
Fittingly, Selanne was scheduled to be on hand for the playoff game between two franchises close to his heart. Selanne started his long and storied career in Winnipeg with the original Jets, mourned when the Jets left for Arizona and celebrated when the Atlanta franchise relocated to Winnipeg in 2011.
A Ducks spokesman said Selanne would decline interview requests because he wants to keep the focus on the active players.
A classy move, as always.
Ducks opt for Stoner over Wisniewski
The first whiff of potential controversy surfaced after Thursday’s morning skate when Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau opted to go with the physical presence of defenseman Clayton Stoner, meaning defenseman James Wisniewski was the odd man out for Game 1 against Winnipeg.
Wisniewski was hardly the only one surprised by the call. After all, he was a major trade-deadline acquisition for the Ducks in a multiplayer deal with Columbus. They paid a decent price for him too, sending the Blue Jackets veteran forward Rene Bourque, youngster William Karlsson and a second-round pick in the 2015 draft.
“You’re never really expecting this ... it is what it is,” Wisniewski said. “You’ve got to be ready to play when you’re called upon and be professional and help any way possible with work ethic and practices. And try to be a leader and help out anybody else however you can.”
Boudreau, beyond trying to match the Jets’ physical brand of hockey, praised what he called the effective pairing of Stoner and Sami Vatanen.
“They have been teamed up all year,” he said. “Sami seems to play his best with Clayton and now Clayton is fully healthy. So I don’t see why he would lose his position. He’s been injured a little bit down the stretch.
“Now that he’s healthy, I think those two have made a great pair all year.”
Furthermore, Boudreau liked what Stoner did in the playoffs with the Minnesota Wild last season. Stoner was a plus-two in 13 playoff games and had three points and 26 penalty minutes for Minnesota, which lost to Chicago in the second round.
“He’s a big-bodied guy,” Boudreau said. “My best memory is that I watched him in the playoffs with Minnesota in that first round and he might have been the best defenseman on the ice. He rises to that occasion and has in the past.”