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2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Concussion issues keep Hecht from hometown game

Monday, 10.03.2011 / 1:11 PM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

MANNHEIM, Germany -- Reality hit for Jochen Hecht as the cheers washed over him on Monday morning.

Wearing a gray (non-contact) sweater, Hecht was striding onto the ice at the end of Buffalo's hour-long open practice at SAP Arena and the crowd -- a mix of Buffalo fans that made the trip and local Adler Mannheim supporters -- whistled and cheered in appreciation for the local hero.

However, it was a bittersweet moment as Hecht, a Mannheim native, had missed the practice, unable to participate because of a recurrence of concussion symptoms. In that moment, he knew his dream of playing against the team he supported as a child and played for as a young man -- and in front of fans that adore him -- officially was over.

"I was looking forward to this all summer," Hecht said. "The way it has worked out now is a little bit disappointing. But, that is the way it is. I have to get healthy for the season."

Hiller happy to be back in net, moving forward

Monday, 10.03.2011 / 10:01 AM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

Teemu Selanne didn't need to see Jonas Hiller in a game to know that his goaltender was back to form.

When the Anaheim Ducks were about to play their third game in as many nights recently, Selanne and several other players who weren't in the lineup still put in some work in Anaheim.
Hiller was among the group, too, and Selanne remembers well.

"We're doing the shootout (drill) and he was almost like a wall," Selanne said. "I thought he was better than ever. That's a great sign. We all know how important the goaltending is."

All the years and all the fame haven't changed Selanne

Monday, 10.03.2011 / 9:57 AM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

HELSINKI -- Keijo Sailynoja has been friends with Teemu Selanne for more than 25 years, since before Selanne was a star for Jokerit and then in the NHL and for Finland.

They were teammates as kids, teammates as professionals and remain very close. Sailynoja has been there for Selanne's rise to heights and fame few people, let alone hockey players, actually reach.

To Sailynoja, Selanne is the same person he met so many years ago -- and that is the biggest reason why an entire nation and hockey fans around the world adore him so.

"That's why so many people like him, because he has always been -- of course, you can't say the same kind of person because years go by and he is famous now -- but I can say he hasn't changed so much," Sailynoja said. "He has always time for the people, maybe even too much sometimes. He takes care of the people. He is still taking care of his old friends and does much with charity. He has been the same kind of guy. That's why he is special."

Visnovsky feels right at home in Anaheim

Monday, 10.03.2011 / 9:49 AM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

The re-awakening of Lubomir Visnovsky's hockey career can be traced to a hotel room in snow-packed Chicago in March 2010.

Visnovsky and his Edmonton Oilers teammates were coming off another loss and had arrived to play the Blackhawks when Visnovsky received a phone call.

It wasn't a surprising one.

"The GM, (Steve) Tambellini, knew I wasn't happy," Visnovsky said. "He told me, 'You will be very happy to go back to California.' I appreciated that."

Selanne adored as a national hero in Finland

Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 12:21 PM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

HELSINKI -- If Teemu Selanne or his teammates had any doubt about the reception he will receive this week while the Anaheim Ducks are here, a gigantic poster draped over the side of Hartwall Areena near the main entrance with the 41-year-old's face on it was probably a good indication when they arrived Sunday morning.

Selanne, along with countrymen Saku Koivu and Tony Lydman, will be feted this week as returning heroes of Finland. The reason Selanne's face is on the side of the building is in part because of his popularity (though Koivu is also a national hero), but also because Jokerit, the team that plays in the arena, is where Selanne played in his youth and cultivated his now legendary talents.

"It is really special for us," Selanne said. "I don't think many players have a lot of chances to come play in their own home city with their NHL team, so it is very special for us and we're going to enjoy it."

Jari Kurri's No. 17 hangs from the rafters at Hartwall. Twice in fact -- once for his exploits with Jokerit and the other for his contributions to Suomi with the national team. Kurri was the first Finnish player to become an NHL legend, and Selanne is the second and his No. 8 will surely be there soon after he retires.

Koivu happy to cede the spotlight in Finland

Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 11:45 AM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Risto Pakarinen - Correspondent

If the Anaheim Ducks' three Finns were a classic rockband, Teemu Selanne would be the obvious lead singer, the frontman. Toni Lydman would be the drummer, giving it the distinct sound while making sure the band stayed the course.

Saku Koivu would be the talented, songwriting guitar player, the other half of the heart of the band, with Selanne. If they were the Beatles, Selanne would be Lennon and McCartney, Koivu would be George Harrison, and Lydman would be Ringo. In Led Zeppelin, Selanne would be Robert Plant, Koivu Jimmy Page. (And Lydman John Bonham).

All legends in their own right, but with most of the spotlight on the frontman.

And after a decade as the captain of the Montreal Canadiens, that's exactly what Koivu wants right now. He's fine with somebody else fielding all the questions from the media, so that he can just do what he loves to do: play hockey. 

In native Germany, Ehrhoff focuses on season

Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 11:19 AM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

MANNHEIM, Germany -- Christian Ehrhoff arrived home in Germany Sunday morning to begin a campaign that he hopes won't end until late June.

While happy to be in familiar surroundings -- Ehrhoff's hometown is only about three hours away -- Ehrhoff is already focusing on the business at hand for the 2011-12 season. And, after losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final while with Vancouver last season, Ehrhoff has made returning to -- and winning -- the final series of the NHL season his No. 1 priority.

That journey begins Tuesday night with Buffalo's final preseason game here, an exhibition against DEL powerhouse Adler Manheim and continues with Friday's Compuware NHL Premiere regular-season game against the Anaheim Ducks in Finland and Saturday's NHL Premiere game against the Kings in Berlin.

"It's really nice for us to be able to show German fans what we do over here in the NHL," Ehrhoff told in the days leading up to this trip.

He is doubly happy to play here because he thought fate had dealt him a raw hand last season when the San Jose Sharks came here to play Adler. Ehrhoff played six years with the Sharks organization before moving on to Vancouver two years ago, thereby missing what he thought, at the time, would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Hecht likely to miss German exhibition game

Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 10:34 AM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

MANNHEIM, Germany -- Jochen Hecht dreamed most of the summer about playing an exhibition game against Adler Mannheim, his hometown club in Germany.

That Premiere Challenge game is Tuesday here at SAP Arena, but it appears that Hecht's dream will not be fulfilled.

The team arrived in Mannheim Sunday morning and skated in the afternoon. Hecht took part in that brisk practice, but was not deemed ready for contact. He has been sidelined with concussion symptoms since Sept. 18 after being struck in the face by the helmet of teammate Shaone Morrison during a practice session. Hecht also missed significant time at the end of this past season -- including Buffalo's first six Stanley Cup Playoff games -- with concussion issues.

Hecht has only been skating since Friday and is yet to be cleared for contact, so coach Lindy Ruff is coming to grips with the fact that he may have to put the brakes on one of the best feel-good stories of the NHL European adventures to start the season.

If he played, Hecht would have likely received an ovation that would have rivaled the spine-tingling one New York Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist received earlier this week when he played before his hometown club fans in Gothenburg, Sweden.  

Gaborik happy host for Rangers' game in Bratislava

Saturday, 10.01.2011 / 9:00 AM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"I think I made a lot of people smile because I got them tickets, and it's on TV as well. A lot of people are going to be able to enjoy it." -- Marian Gaborik

GOTHENBURG, Swe. -- Instead of taking the time to romanticize the idea of a national hockey star returning to his nation's capital to play with his NHL club, Marian Gaborik's friends and family couldn't wait to ask him the question.

"Everybody was like, 'Can you hook me up with some tickets?'" Gaborik told

He did, which is why 50 of his family members and closest friends will be in Bratislava on Sunday to watch the local team, HC Slovan, face Gaborik's New York Rangers at Ondrej Nepela Arena.

Lydman hoping health allows him to play at home

Friday, 09.30.2011 / 10:16 AM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

Returning home often is a recipe for reflection.

It's no different for Toni Lydman, who returns to his native Finland as a member of the Anaheim Ducks as they spend a week in Helsinki preparing for the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere games against the Buffalo Sabres (Helsinki, Oct. 7) and the New York Rangers (Stockholm, Oct. 8).

With the trip home -- where he'll play in front of family, friends, former teammates and many others in the tight-knit Finnish hockey community that helped him reach this point in his professional career -- just days away, Lydman has spent more than a bit of time reminiscing about the road he has travelled to become a full-time player in the best hockey league in the world.
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