2001 Stanley Cup Finals

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Stanley Cup Notebook

Finals veterans teaching the rookies on the Devils

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Posted: Thursday May 31, 2001 6:56 PM
Updated: Friday June 01, 2001 1:20 AM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Ken Daneyko is as much a constant with the New Jersey Devils as the pointed tail in the team logo.

The 37-year-old Daneyko has been with the Devils since the 1983-84 season -- just one year after the team moved from Colorado. He has never played with another NHL team and has never missed any of the Devils' 151 playoff games.

After being the laughingstock of the NHL in their early years, the Devils are shooting for their third Stanley Cup in seven years.

"This is what we play for," he said Thursday before Game 3 of the finals against Colorado. "I'm more excited than the first time around. It doesn't get old. It's a great feeling.

"This does not ever get old. This is our lives and right now it's the most important thing in our lives."

That enthusiasm has rubbed off on Sean O'Donnell, who is playing for his first Cup. He knew it was special, but never knew the range of ups and downs.

"Coming in here before Game 1, you want to get that first win," the defenseman said. "When you don't, especially the way it happened, I think every guy on this team had trouble sleeping and wanted to play the very next day. We knew we were better than that and wanted to atone for the first game.

"Then all the sudden, you get a big win in Game 2 and you can't sleep because you are too excited. It's just the mental and emotional roller coaster. I don't think anyone can prepare you for that. The whole thing is fun. As tough as I make it sound, I wouldn't change it for a thing."

Move away

With the Stanley Cup finals back in the New York metropolitan area, the Colorado Avalanche felt the full crush of the media Thursday in the small visitors locker room at Continental Airlines Arena.

Steven Reinprecht had the misfortune of having his locker right near the entrance. Asked if this was the smallest dressing room in the NHL, the center said: "Right now it is."

"They need a better setup," Reinprecht added, "or I need a different stall."

Big difference

Sure John Vanbiesbrouck would rather play instead of serving as the backup goalie to Martin Brodeur. But he also knows that he has a good shot to win his first Stanley Cup with Brodeur in goal for the New Jersey Devils.

"I want Marty to stay healthy because that's our best chance to win the Stanley Cup," said Vanbiesbrouck, who was Florida's regular goalie when Colorado swept the Panthers in 1996 -- his only appearance in the finals.

"All the people who know the situation know that we never won in Colorado," he said. "But this is a different team, different situation."

Vanbiesbrouck, who also played for New York's Rangers and Islanders, and Philadelphia, has reached the Stanley Cup finals for just the second time in 19 NHL seasons.

Time to study

Avalanche forward Ville Nieminen found plenty of time to read hockey history books while spending three-plus seasons with Hershey of the American Hockey League.

Nieminen was talking about past world championships and former NHL stars Thursday when a reporter asked when the player had time to learn all of it.

"With 1,300 hours in a bus, you learn everything," Nieminen said. "You have lots of time to read books for hours."

Now that he has made it in the NHL, he uses his time differently.

"I used to read lots of stats," he said. "Not anymore though."

Future stars

Seven of the top-rated prospects available for selection in the NHL entry draft watched the morning skates before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Jason Spezza, a center from Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League who is the highest-rated North American skater, was there along with defenseman Dan Hamhuis, center Stephen Weiss, defenseman Mike Komisarek and center R.J. Umberger.

North America's top two goalies -- Pacal Leclaire and Daniel Blackburn -- watched Colorado and New Jersey work out Thursday morning at Continental Airlines Arena.

The draft is June 23-24 in Sunrise, Fla.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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