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Tuesday, April 29

Updated: May 20, 1:59 PM ET

Ducks deserve love

By John Buccigross
Special to ESPN.com

Disney is getting out of the pro sports team business. Despite the Angels winning the World Series last October, and the Ducks being 10 wins away from a Stanley Cup title, it's difficult to make money in sports where there is no salary cap. Both teams have been for sale for some time. The Angels are close to changing hands, while the Ducks are still looking for someone to pay their ... bills.

SHOT OF THE WEEK
Every week we will present an NHL photo and I'll provide a caption. E-mail me your suggestions (include your name and hometown/state) and next week we will use the best ones and provide a new photo.

LAST WEEK:
Red Wings left winger Luc Robitaille:
"Five more handfuls of these, a grande latte from Starbucks, a night on eBay and it's retirement here I come!!!!"


Your submissions:
"Damn. Thought they said it was a backstage pass to see STYX."
- Catherine Kasper, Ventnor, N.J.

Hockey sticks: $200. Trolley cart: $50. Grey fleece jacket: $25. Being swept by the seventh-seeded Anaheim Mighty Ducks: Priceless. Introducing the new Broom Card, sign up today and get a free cooked octopus.
- Michelle, California

"When Holland said I still had a spot as a Red Wing, this isn't what I had in mind."
- Darin Tessier, Surrey, British Columbia

"I know a guy who'll turn these into a great set of golf clubs for me."
- Jason Posner, Hamilton, Ontario

THIS WEEK:
Canucks center Brendan Morrison to teammate Matt Cooke:
"Did you see Crawford's hair today? It looks like Ken the Otter has leased some space on his head."
Disney also owns ESPN. We do a little better on the financial side of things and probably won't be sold anytime soon. You would think that ESPN and the Ducks would have a very close relationship, with a Ducks Game of the Week and a seven-part SportsCentury series "Martin Gerber: The Burgdorf Years." However, our relationship with the Ducks is no different than with the Blue Jackets, Bruins or Blues. I've never received one article of SWAG from the Ducks in my seven years at ESPN. No Ducks hats, Ducks t-shirts or Ducks jumper cables. The ESPN newsroom does not have Ducks pennants hanging from the walls or a Guy Hebert bronze statue in the lobby.

So, there is no mandate to write about or talk about the Ducks any more than any other NHL team. It should be obvious when a team starts its postseason run 6-0 against Detroit and Dallas, winners of four of the last six Stanley Cups, they deserve any ink they get, even if it's from a subsidiary of Disney Inc.

So, without really looking into this yet, let's see what the Ducks and Angels have in common besides their owners and a possible unexpected championship:

1. You can see The Pond over the leftfield wall from the seats in the Angels' ballpark. The proximity of mojo is ideal

2. Both teams are coached and managed by a guy named Mike -- Scioscia and Babcock.

3. Both have players born in Minnesota. Aaron Sele for the Angels and Kurt Sauer for the Ducks.

4. If you have a hankering for salmon you can call Tim, and if you need Oates ring Adam.

5. Shawn Wooten and Alexei Smirnov both have never seen Celine Dion in concert.

6. If you're thirsty, you can have a Glaus of Smirnov.

7. If you are in the mood for potato chips, you can get some made by Wise or some Salei's.

8. If you are playing golf at Riviera Country Club and are in a Sandis trap, you can use your wedge made by Callaway.

9. This is now stupid.

Well, that didn't go as planned. I guess the only the only thing these two teams have in common is their championship characteristics. A player's manager. A good bullpen and defensemen. A good closer and a good goalie. A core of homegrown, drafted players coming together knocking off America's Team on the diamond and on the ice. When K-Rod came into the game last fall, you knew it was lights out for the Giants. When the Stars and Ducks went to overtime in Game 2, I said to Ray Ferraro, "There's no way the Ducks are losing. They simply are not going to lose in overtime." Jean-Sebastien Giguere is K-Rod.

And like "Angels in the Outfield," no one believes these Ducks will go all the way unless Emilio Estevez is behind the bench and director Steven Soderbergh yells, "Action!!" They didn't believe the Angels until Darin Erstad caught the final out against the Giants, and they won't believe the Ducks until Stanislav Chistov wins Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final in overtime -- rally monkey or not.

Heck, I still think the Stars are going to win the series.

The 2001 Stanley Cup final party at the Chop House restaurant in Denver is still my most surreal hockey memory. It was image overload. I can still see ... Adam Foote bringing the Cup into the back room. Peter Forsberg taking a picture of it with his dad. Me taking a picture with the Cup and former Masters champ Craig Stadler, and still never seeing a copy of it. Meeting Chris Drury in the bathroom and him later telling me that one of his friends said after, "Hey, that's the twisted wrister guy!" Seeing Ray Bourque bring the Cup home in some sort of mini-van.

Shjon Podein
Shjon Podein will be a major impact player -- with more "Life of Podes" this season.
Perhaps the most indelible image was seeing Shjon Podein walk into the restaurant in full equipment. From head to toe, he had on what he had on when the buzzer sounded on Game 7 and the Avs won the Cup over the Devils a few hours before.

So, for this week's Great 8, I called Shjon's cell phone. He wasn't there. "Podes" changes his voice mail greeting almost everyday. This is the message left, word for word, on his voice mail when I called him on Monday:

"I'm in the bathroom just before the start of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery tour. Now, I'm not sure what might happen inside these walls, but you might not be seeing me for an AWFULLY LONG TIME. And if you get a little nervous or worried. Don't. Please, don't come looking for me. I'll be just fine."

Podes called back after his tour.

No. 1: What was the Anheuser-Busch Brewery Plant tour like and what did you learn?
Podein:
You think there is a heaven on earth and then you go there and you know there is. I needed some time to really soak it in and I don't mean the building. The best part was the sample room at the end. I didn't think six hours in the sample room was that big a deal. Nothing like tasting beer made that day. I've never had a bad beer, but this was one of the top ones.

Shjon was born March 5, 1968, in Rochester, Minn.

No. 2: Are you retiring from the NHL?
Podein:
I wanted to play this year out and see where it ended up. We'll see how things pan out in the next weeks and months.

"Podes" played college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth

No. 3: Why were you and the Blues unable to close out the Canucks after being up 3-1?
Podein:
With a team like Vancouver, we did not take advantage of our opportunities in Games 5 and 6, and as the series went on they got better. We didn't finish them off when we had the chance. They started getting confidence and started rolling.

If Shjon does retire this summer, he will retire with exactly 100 goals. His 100th goal was against Marty Turco on March 23.

No. 4: Tell me about your charity event in the summer.
Podein:
It's a rock concert/golf event. Good times. Sunday night rock concert with G.B. Leighton. Monday golf. It all goes to the Shjon Podein Children's Foundation in Rochester, Minn. This is our sixth year. We've grown from $25,000 to $250,000.

Shjon was an eighth-round pick of the Oilers in the 1988 draft. He played 68 games with the Oilers, 301 games with the Flyers, 239 with the Avalanche and 91 with the Blues.

No. 5: How long did you keep your equipment on after the Avs won the Stanley Cup in 2001?
Podein:
Twenty-five hours. After the game, we were having a few beers in the locker room and before I realized it, everyone had showered. One of the wives dared me to go to the party at the Chop House in my gear. That wasn't much of a dare. When I got there, Barry Melrose said that he wasn't impressed. He said he played with a guy in Adirondack who wore his equipment for 24 hours. So, since I'm like a 10-year-old kid, I took it as a double dare and wore my stuff for 25 hours. I still have signed receipts and pictures and I'm gonna put it all on a plaque and send it to Barry one of these days.

Podes won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2001. It's given to the player who's a leader on and off the ice and has made contributions to the community.

No. 6: What's the most unique thing you've done on road trips?
Podein:
Grabbing a cab at 2:20 in the morning and go through the winding streets and over the Golden Gate Bridge with a cab driver named Haji. Or going fishing at 6:30 in the morning with a cab driver in South Florida. Cab drivers have become good friends of mine throughout the years.

Shjon is a career plus-62 and has worn CCMs his whole career.

No. 7: Are you afraid of retirement?
Podein:
No, I just want to leave the game at the right time, not too late and not too early. I have lots of interests. I have a little recording business I want to grow and work with small bands. I also want my charity work to grow. But my dream job is bartender/beer truck delivery guy back in Minneapolis.

Podes had one penalty shot opportunity in his career. He missed against Marc Denis in a 5-1 Avalanche win over the Blue Jackets on Dec. 12, 2001.

No. 8: If you picked me up at the airport tomorrow in St. Louis at 11a.m., what would we do?
Podein:
(Laughing) We'd first go for a nice little breakfast at the South City Diner. Then we'd go for a couple little cocktails at Johnny's. Then we'd go to a Cardinals game and get a big dog and relax. Then we'd head to Blueberry Hill, Chuck Berry's place at University City and hang out outside. We'd go to dinner at Paul Mannos, the best Italian restaurant in my 13 years of travel. Then we'd have a couple beers at J. McGraw's and have Rick take care of us for the evening.

God bless Rick. God bless Podes. God bless America.

Conn Smythe edition:

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Giguere
1. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, G, Anaheim Mighty Ducks: This list was made Sunday Night when Giguere stood at 6-0. If he is 7-0 his spot is secure and even if he is 6-1 as you read this, He is still the top story of the playoffs thus far. The Ducks doing well has introduced to the hockey world. What we have found is that Giguere is humble, likable and bright.

2. Jamie Langenbrunner, F, New Jersey Devils: Snubbed for Team USA consideration for the 2002 Olympics, Langenbrunner's seven playoff goals tied him for the league lead at the start of the week. If the Devils get by the Bolts they will have the Flyers or the Senators in the next round. Some feel that will be their real test -- to score enough against either of those two teams to advance to the final.

3. Mark Recchi, F, Philadelphia Flyers: Tied with Langenbrunner for the playoff lead at the week's beginning. The Flyers are having a difficult time staying with the Senators. They will need to be opportunistic like Recchi was in Game 2 and get great goaltending from Roman Cechmanek the rest of the way to beat them.

4. Martin Brodeur, G, New Jersey Devils: Marty began the week with a .944 save percentage. He is sharp and focused on the ice. He's playing like he'd rather be there than any other place in the world.

5. John Madden, F, New Jersey Devils: I know, that's three Devils, but three guys playing at a championship level is why they have just one loss in the playoffs. Madden is scoring and stopping. The Devils have to feel confident of their Stanley Cup chances.

John,
I read with amusement your comment in the last e-mail bag about Jack Hammer as a hockey name. My 6-year-old is not Jack Hammer, but Jack Mallett, and is already preparing for his NHL (doctor, lawyer, business owner, etc.) future at the mite level. I didn't name him based on what a cool hockey name it would be, but turns out it does have a good ring to it. Being a Pens fan, I can't agree w/ the Flyers, but give him a few years and Jack will be down w/ Jersey girls wearing his sweater.
A fellow Ohio Valley native,
David K. Mallett
Lakewood, Ohio

Make sure Jack brings a Sam's Club-sized bottle of Aqua Net hairspray, Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town" CD, lip gloss and gum. All driven in a suped up '89 Grand-Am.

Dear John,
Do you have any idea when will NHL have a salary cap? Please reply and have a nice day to you and Barry and Ray!!! I love you!!
Oiler 99,
Irvine, Calif.


I love you too, Oiler 99. The NHL will have a salary cap in place after next season. There may be a work stoppage before we get to that point, but there will be a salary cap. The age for unrestricted free agency will likely drop to 28-30. Currently, players age 31 or older, with at least four years of NHL experience and no years left on their contract, like the Stars Derian Hatcher, become unrestricted free agents. They can sign with any team and their former team gets no compensation.

Yo Bucci,
This is playoff hockey: letting your 9-year-old son stay up until 1 a.m. on a school night to watch (his) Wild beat (my) Avs, drinking Coke and eating nachos together. And telling his teacher he's late the next morning because he stayed up to watch hockey! Doesn't get any better than that! My son walked around yesterday saying, "What does Holy Shnike mean?!"
Enjoy the second round...
Kirk Martin


Bucci,
I'm a die-hard Canucks fan living in Brazil.
Ed
Brazil


Sometimes I can just look at something and get DAYS of entertainment without going any deeper than the initial reaction it gives me. Since I first read this sentence from Ed in Brazil, I have thought about nothing else. I love these nine words and I don't know why and I don't want anyone to tell me why.

Dear John,
It has become apparent to me that a great deal of your viewers probably don't realize that Ray Ferraro was one of the greatest major junior players Canada has ever seen. Not many people in the U.S. know that Parm's 108-goal (192 points) season in 1984 is still a WHL record today. Could it be that Ray's sensational broadcasting skills have seemingly overshadowed his accomplishments as a teenager in Brandon, Manitoba?
Regards,
Andy Nystuen
Montana


Besides the post-NHL 2Night spreads of food served by FHM Models, the favorite part of my job is the stories Melrose, Panger, Parm and other studio guests, like Ray Bourque and Keith Jones, tell while we hang out and watch the games. Chicken Parm recently mentioned that during his 108-goal year, the No. 1 stars received a bottle of BRUT cologne. Ray was the first star, like, 38 times. Wherever you are, whether it's partying with the Amish in Central Ohio, or reading "The Tipping Point" to Dannii Minogue in a backyard gazebo, if you smell something that reeks of Chicken Parm and Brut, you'll know who's coming.

Hi John,
You said it a while back -- the Avs would miss Chris Drury. You don't let go of a clutch player like that. Their first round series could have had a much brighter outcome otherwise. Also, pick up The White Stripes' "Elephant." Best rock album of the decade (so far).
Go Flyers!
David Ferry
Philadelphia


Got the Stripes' CD. Solid. I love Jack White's sentence invention. Hockey god's numbers are better in the postseason than the regular season. His mindset is better suited for short-term team oriented goals, like the Little League World Series, the NCAA Tournament and the Stanley Cup playoffs. I never will be convinced that the Drury-Yelle trade was a positive move by Pierre Lacroix.

John,
Why does Melrose hate the Bruins so much? I've never heard the man say one nice thing about my B's. Do we have to win a Cup for him to acknowledge our existence????
Dan Rondeau
Boston


For the last time, Barry doesn't hate any team. Really. I would tell you otherwise. He loves the city of Boston and I think he would be a perfect coach for the team. Barry is way more Boston than L.A. Don't let the mullet fool you. If Barry coached the Bruins, they would skate and hit and play like the Bruins of the 1980s. The way the Bruins are being managed, a Cup is unlikely for some time.

John,
In your last two columns you have made me aware of three awesome songs - "Mess" by Ben Folds, "Enjoy the Silence" by Depeche, "American English" by Idlewild. How would you like to recommend some more songs?
Anonymous


I listen to "American English" by Idlewild coming and going to ESPN, everyday. When I think of the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs, I will think of that song like I think of the White Stripes' "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" for last year's Red Wings' Cup run.

Here's an Anonymous Eponymous, Anonymous: "Zak and Sara" by Ben Folds, "EZ" by Pete Yorn, "If I Had a Boat" by Lyle Lovett, "James K. Polk" by They Might Be Giants, "Baby Learns to Crawl" by Paul Westerberg, "Race for the Prize" by the Flaming Lips, "The Frozen Man" by James Taylor and "Misty Mountain Hop" by Led Zeppelin.

I've got 7,812 more. Let me know.

John Buccigross is the host of NHL 2Night, which airs on ESPN2. His e-mail address -- for questions, comments or cross-checks -- is john.buccigross@espn.com.




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