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Roenick loving his time at the Stanley Cup Final

by Mike G. Morreale
CHICAGO -- Jeremy Roenick is enjoying the retired life. He was looking rather dapper walking through the corridors of United Center Sunday morning, stopping for interviews every so often in the hours before the crucial Game 5 between the Blackhawks and Flyers (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

As you might expect, Roenick's thrilled that the Blackhawks and the Flyers are embroiled in what would seem to be a thrilling fight to the League's finish line in the Stanley Cup Final. Prior to calling it quits on Aug. 6 following 20 seasons in the League, Roenick spent eight seasons in Chicago and three with the Flyers.

The always-outspoken Roenick, now an analyst for NBC, knows what it would mean to each city to celebrate a Stanley Cup championship.

"The Phillies won the World Series a couple of years ago and if the Flyers win, it'll be twice as big a celebration as that," Roenick told "The White Sox won the World Series in 2005, but if the 'Hawks win, it'll be about 100 times bigger than that.

"I just think these cities really love their hockey, the teams are loved to no end in both," he continued. "It would mean the world. I think each city would take about a year to clean up if either won a championship."

Roenick says the difference in the series so far has been Philadelphia's ability to contain Chicago's top point producers. Chicago's Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Kris Versteeg, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Dustin Byfuglien have combined for 5 goals, 14 points and a minus-6 rating through four games in the series.

"I think it's been the difference in the series to tell you the truth," Roenick said. "The Flyers have really come out and established such a hard skating, intense game. Even more so, they've taken away one of Chicago's strengths, which is there net presence in front.

"When you play against a guy like Chris Pronger and I also feel (Braydon) Coburn has been unbelievable in terms of making sure that the front of the net has been clear, it's been tough for (Chicago)," Roenick added. "Michael Leighton has a clear shot of the puck. If they're afraid to go to the front of the net and create traffic, it's going to be a lot easier for the goalie to stop the puck and that's been evident, especially in the last two games."

Roenick hasn't been too surprised with the play of both goalies in the playoffs -- Chicago rookie Antti Niemi and Philadelphia journeyman-turned-overnight-sensation Michael Leighton.

"That's why the NHL is so great," Roenick said. "You just never know who's going to be that next person who'll step up and be the star. The goaltenders are always in the spotlight in terms of being the guys who have to be the best players and they understand that and these are professionals.

"With Niemi, you didn't know what you were going to get because he's young, he's a rookie. With Leighton, here's a guy who thought his career might be over and he revitalizes it by coming in and playing the way he has. Those are good stories but that's how hockey players are. They're competitors, they're grinders and sometimes they play there best hockey in the key situations when they're not getting paid for it."

Well, not exactly. Both Niemi and Leighton are getting paid, but just not as much as many of the other goaltenders around the League whose teams have been extinguished from the playoffs.

Roenick, 40, did admit to having a rooting interest.

"My rooting interest is NBC actually," he said. "That's who I'm rooting for. I'm rooting for great ratings and good approval ratings and, for me, that's all. Anything else is just gravy.

"I think this is as good of a matchup that you could ask for in the NHL," he continued. "This is an Original Six team against one of the more popular teams across the board and it's what hockey needs. The home teams have won, it's a 2-2 series and the ratings have been great for TV. And they're two of my former teams, so it's been a really fun adventure for me. I wish it went on forever, but someone's got to win."

Contact Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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