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Stanley Cup Notebook

Konstantinov, Mnatsakanov return to Joe Louis Arena

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Posted: Friday June 12, 1998 01:33 AM

  Vladimir Konstantinov and Sergei Mnatsakanov were among the faces in the crowd at Joe Louis Arena Thursday night (AP)

DETROIT (AP) -- The cheers went up at Joe Louis Arena between the first and second periods of Thursday night's Stanley Cup final game.

The crowd welcomed back Vladimir Konstantinov and Sergei Mnatsakanov, who were disabled by an auto accident last year six days after the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup.

The Red Wings defenseman and team masseur have been recuperating since. It was the second time back to Detroit for Konstantinov, who made an appearance at Joe Louis Arena earlier in the playoffs.

Timing is everything

When the Red Wings score first in the playoffs, they usually win. It happened again Thursday night.

With a 5-4 overtime victory over the Washington Capitals, the Red Wings improved to 11-1 when taking the early lead. The Capitals are 3-6 when allowing the first goal.

Still the same

Were the Red Wings trying to tell the Capitals something during their pre-game skate Thursday? The score of Game 1 was still on the center-ice scoreboard.

"It's still 2-1 Detroit," one sports writer quipped.

California dreamin'

Ron Wilson has had to make some personal sacrifices since taking over as coach of the Washington Capitals, most notably living apart from his family in California.

Thursday was an important day in his life in more ways than one. Not only was his team meeting Detroit in the second game of the Stanley Cup finals, but he was missing his daughter's high school graduation.

"I spoke to her today," Wilson said of his daughter, Lauren.

"I asked her if she wouldn't mind having 'Go, Caps, Go' printed on her forehead when she walked up to the stage," he quipped.

The graduation ceremony took place at a suburban high school near Anaheim, where Wilson coached for four years before coming to Washington this season.

Risky business

Detroit suffered an injury at practice this week, although it won't affect their lineup. Associate coach Barry Smith suffered a shoulder separation when he stepped on a puck with his skate near the boards and fell.

After seeing team trainer John Wharton, Smith was apparently put right.

Stay away from his door

The top prospects for the NHL draft in Buffalo later this month attended a Stanley Cup luncheon Thursday and got a veiled warning from Brian Burke, the league's director of hockey operations.

"Good luck in the future -- and make sure you don't make it to my office," he said.

As one his duties, Burke is in charge of disciplining players.

Eight players showed for the luncheon, including projected No. 1 pick Vincent Lecavalier of the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Don't believe what you read

How does Scotty Bowman prepare his team to play in the finals, considering all the favorable press picking the Red Wings as overwhelming favorites?

"We keep telling the players that the people who picked them don't know what they're talking about," Bowman said.

Local pride

If Detroit is "Hockeytown," then what is Washington? Wilson was asked that at a news conference Thursday and he sounded like a spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce.

"Washington is the best place to live in the East," said Wilson, who spent the first four years of his NHL coaching career at Anaheim. "A recent poll said that. It might not be `Hockeytown,' but there are so many things to do there."

Still Rushin'

What makes Viacheslav Fetisov one of the best defensemen in hockey history?

"He's good in a puck-control situation," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland says. "He makes a very good first pass. He's also mentally tough and physically strong."

Fetisov, the former star of the powerful Russian Red Army team, is a rarity, playing professional hockey at the age of 40. He is only the fifth 40-year-old player since the NHL's expansion era to appear in a Stanley Cup final.

"He's been there every night for us," Holland said. "He is very proud and a determined athlete who gets the most out of his ability every night."

Experiencing the finals

Experience means everything, as far as officials in the Stanley Cup finals are concerned. The seven officials on the ice for this year's finals have logged a combined 10,753 regular-season and playoff games.

That's eating

If nothing else, the Capitals will be eating well during this year's finals. They have brought their own chef along for the games in Detroit.

Chef Gennaro Ferrigno, executive chef for the That's Amore restaurant chain of Washington, came along to provide special cuisine for the Eastern Conference champions.

Ferrigno has been cooking for the team for most home games at the MCI Center and also recently started to provide meal service for the team's charter flights.

They got 'em covered

Getting around these days? You can still catch the Stanley Cup finals in many places of the world, no matter how distant.

The NHL says the finals are being broadcast live to more than 170 countries, a record. That includes Asia and the Pacific Rim, the Middle East, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Northern Africa and Africa.


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Proud papa: Bellows back with Caps following son's birth
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