Japanese goaltender big news in homeland

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:56 PM ET

Yutaka Fukufuji's goals-against-average isn't turning heads - but his story is.

Saddled with an ugly 4.38 GAA in parts of four games for the Los Angeles Kings this season, Fukufuji's stay in the NHL might be brief.

But nothing can erase the fact he's the first Japanese native to ever play in the NHL.

"What a great story: a kid coming from that hockey background and being able to make it at this level," said teammate Sean Burke, who started between the pipes against the Edmonton Oilers last night.

Raised in the small town of Kushiro, Japan, Fukufuji can still remember watching his first NHL game.

"I was about 10 years old and I saw Martin Brodeur in the Stanley Cup," recalled the quiet 24-year-old.

"He's my favourite goalie."

Though he's not drawing any comparisons to Brodeur in his first stint with the Kings, Fukufuji is garnering attention back home.

"Everywhere we go there is Japanese media following him," said Burke.

"But he's a real level-headed kid."


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