Walk like a Duck

TED WYMAN

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

Not only did we get to witness the special moment when Teemu Selanne finally got his mitts on the Stanley Cup this week, but we also saw a championship team that provided a positive glimpse at the future of hockey.

The NHL is a copycat league, where teams try to emulate the previous champion in hopes of making their own run at the title.

If more teams start to play like the Anaheim Ducks, the NHL will be a lot more fun to watch.

The Ducks were tough, skilled and full of great skaters, not to mention the charisma and character that comes from being around a player like Selanne day in and day out.

While stomping on the Ottawa Senators, the Ducks showed what a team with two solid offensive lines, a great checking line and a rock solid back end can do. They deserved to win and will have a very good chance of winning again with most of the players under contract for next year.

The best part about the Ducks victory, of course, was that the players wanted to win it for Selanne, who has always been one of the nicest people in pro sports and has now cemented his status among the all-time greats like Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman.

Selanne's scoring exploits would have gotten him in the Hall of Fame anyway, but they mean just a little bit more now that he has won a championship and been such a key contributor throughout the playoff run. In terms of Winnipeg's all-time hockey heroes, he's now done what Dale Hawerchuk and Thomas Steen never did, elevating his iconic status a notch above those Jets greats.

And yes, we realize he was prompted by Winnipegger Scott Oake in the minutes after he won the Cup, but it was still nice to hear him mention the city where he got his NHL start during one of the greatest moments of his life.

Selanne has never forgotten his all-too-brief time in Winnipeg and has maintained his love affair with the city's fans long after he was unceremoniously traded before the team itself flew south.

He gives the impression that Winnipeg is like a second hometown for him, a fact greatly appreciated by the people of a city which is often self-conscious and sometimes self-loathing.

There are certainly some people in this town who saw Teemu's win as a Cup win for Winnipeg. And if they want to feel that way, who are we to argue.

FAREWELL: It's been a rough week for a lot of us in the newspaper community, especially those of us (and there are quite a few) whose careers passed through Brandon. Mike Jones, who served as sports editor of the Brandon Sun for the last 20 years, passed away suddenly at age 49, just a few days before he was slated to play in the Grey Owl at his beloved Clear Lake Golf Course. I had the privelege of recently introducing Mike at his induction into the Manitoba Media Roll of Honour and can say from the testimonials that he was a man who made an impact on the careers of many sports writers and editors in this province. Personally, he taught me a great deal about the written word and showed how it's possible to be both a boss and a friend. For that he has my eternal respect. He will be fondly remembered and greatly missed.

FRESH GRAPES: I don't often agree wholeheartedly with Don Cherry, but he was bang on when it was suggested to him that the NHL needs to cut down on violence to attract American TV viewers. Grapes pointed to football (kill the quarterback), NASCAR (crashes) and ultimate fighting (bloodletting) -- possibly the three most popular sports in the United States -- and scoffed at the hockey suggestion. Seriously, do you think people are turning away from hockey to watch reruns of Full House? No, they're waiting with bated breath to find out who gets whacked next on the Sopranos ... The Minnesota Vikings have a new general in the form of player personnel director George Paton. It would make sense if his first signing was Tank Johnson ... Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is in an awful lot of hot water because of his alleged ties to a dogfighting ring. Vick has indicated he has learned his lesson and in the future will stick to staging parking lot fights between rabid fans.

Ted Wyman is the Sun's sports editor. Got a note, quote or anecdote? Send it to thehitparade@wpgsun.com or phone 632-2794.

QUICK HITS: Let's start off with David Thomas of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Dario Franchitti (A.K.A. Mr. Ashley Judd), winning the Indianapolis 500: "Women have officially taken over IndyCar. Three women raced in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time, then when a man won, everyone wanted to talk about his wife." ... Reggie Hayes of the Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel, on Alex Rodriguez getting accused of a baseball etiquette violation in Toronto: "In review: You can scratch, spit and swear any time, but pop-ups in the infield require the hushed tones of Augusta National." ... From Dan Daly of the Washington Times: "First Alex Rodriguez slaps the ball out of a Red Sox player's glove in the '04 ALCS, now he's messing with a Blue Jays fielder by calling for a popup while running the bases. What's next, A-Rod, putting Crazy Glue on the Orioles' pine tar rag?" ... From Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post: "Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for the Yankees. Lindsay Lohan was spotted driving their bandwagon the other night." ... Gannett News Service columnist Mike Lopresti, on Tigers outfielder Gary Sheffield suggesting that there are more Latin players than blacks in baseball because they are easier to control: "Now batting third for the Tigers ... Don Imus." ... ESPN analyst Jay Bilas to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on why China's Yi Jianlian is a hot NBA draft prospect: "Seven feet tall, a skilled shooter -- and brings your team a billion fans." ... From Greg Cote of the Miami Herald: "Bizarre trade drama out of Kobe Bryant, huh? The Lakers diva demanded a trade, then, after meeting with coach Phil Jackson, announced later that same day he wants to be a Laker for life. I don't know what was burning in Phil's incense that day, but it must have been some pretty Zen-tastic stuff." ... Steve Schrader of the Detroit Free Press, on 96% of the first 65,000 respondents to an NBA.com survey picked the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA championship over the favoured San Antonio Spurs: "Think they're willing to put their money where their mouse is?" ... Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, thinking he might be being a little too hard on beleaguered Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick: "Maybe it's just my frustration. I'm having a lousy season in my dog-fighting fantasy league." ... Cam Hutchinson of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, with some advice for Vick on how to get out of this mess: "Play dead." ... Finally, Bud Geracie of the San Jose Mercury News, on the fate of the U.S. tennis players on the men's side of the French Open: "An American in Paris, starring nobody."


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