Sunday, June 8, 2003

Anaheim's Rucchin a study in perseverance


Stanley Cup notebook

By Ken Peters
The Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Quietly, Steve Rucchin has been an inspiration, a study in perseverance, for the Mighty Ducks.

His nine seasons with Anaheim have been marked by injuries and mostly disappointment with the team's lack of success.

Last June, he suffered a tremendous personal loss when his brother, Larry, died of cancer at 35.

After scoring two game-winners earlier in the playoffs, Rucchin scored twice in the first period Saturday night to start Anaheim rolling to a 5-2 win over New Jersey and into Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

"The last couple of years have been tough, definitely," Rucchin said of his and the Ducks' struggles. "This more than makes up for it. You can't dream of anything more than a chance to win the Stanley Cup in Game 7. It doesn't get much better than that."

Rucchin and Paul Kariya have been with the Ducks the longest. Both made their NHL debuts for Anaheim on Jan. 20, 1995, during the franchise's second year in the league.

"I'm happy to be able to share this opportunity with some guys who have been here a while," Rucchin said. "It means a lot, for some of the downs we've had as an organization, to get this chance and get some respect in the league."

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IN THE CUPBOARD

The Stanley Cup was tucked away in a room at the Pond in case the New Jersey Devils won. It stayed there.

It wasn't the first time the Cup was in the arena. It also made an appearance on Jan. 21, 2000, when it was put on display behind section 214 on the plaza level concourse. The Ducks tied Colorado 3-3 that night, as Paul Kariya had a goal and two assists - just as he did in Game 6 against the Devils.

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CLEAN HIT

The violent hit by New Jersey's Scott Stevens on Paul Kariya in the third period of Game 6 was a clean shot, NHL executive vice president Colin Campbell said after reviewing the play.

"There were two factors I looked at in reviewing the hit. One, the hit was a legal hockey hit, as Stevens struck Kariya with his shoulder," Campbell said in a statement. "Two, in reviewing the hit frame by frame, it was clear that the hit occurred less than one second after Kariya made the pass."

The Mighty Ducks' star lay motionless on the ice for about 4 1/2 minutes before getting up and skating to the bench. He came back to score his first goal of the finals some 6 1/2 minutes after returning to the ice.

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ANOTHER ETCHING?

New Jersey's Joe Nieuwendyk, who hasn't played in the Cup finals because of an injury during the Eastern Conference finals, isn't sure whether he will play in Game 7, but he will still get his name on the Cup if the Devils win.

He won it in 1989 with Calgary and in 1999 with Dallas and is trying to become the sixth player to win the Cup three different teams since the NHL assumed control of the trophy in 1927.

That list includes Gord Pettinger (N.Y. Rangers, Detroit, Boston), Al Arbour (Detroit, Chicago, Toronto), Larry Hillman (Detroit, Toronto, Montreal), Claude Lemieux (Montreal, New Jersey, Colorado), and Mike Keane (Montreal, Colorado and Dallas).

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ON THE REBOUND

The Devils' Pat Burns will try to become the fifth coach to win a Stanley Cup in his second try after losing in his first trip to the finals. The list includes Jack Adams (Detroit), Dick Irvin (Toronto, Chicago), Glen Sather (Edmonton) and Bob Johnson (Calgary, Pittsburgh).

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MVG

Goaltenders have won the Conn Smythe Trophy 12 times, most of any position.

Centers have earned the Stanley Cup finals MVP award 11 times, with defensemen getting it eight times and left wings at the bottom of the list with two times.

Patrick Roy, the goalie who just retired, is the only player to win the trophy three times. Another goalie, Bernie Parent, won it twice, as did centers Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, and defenseman Bobby Orr.

Bob Gainey and Mark Messier are the only left wings to get the finals MVP award.

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HOSTS THE MOST

With Game 7 in New Jersey, the Devils should be feeling confident. They're 11-1 at home in the playoffs this year, and eight of the last nine home teams in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup have won.

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GAME 7 PROS

New Jersey coach Pat Burns will tie Scotty Bowman and Mike Keenan with nine Game 7 appearances in the playoffs, the most by a head coach. Devils captain Scott Stevens will tie Patrick Roy for 13 appearances in Game 7s in the postseason.




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Saturday's results

BASKETBALL
From pickup games to local phenomenon
Dow: XU, UC connected to NBA Finals
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NHL
Mighty Ducks 5, Devils 2
Anaheim's Rucchin a study in perseverance

HORSE RACING
Empire strikes back
Tagg: 'I've had worse disappointments'
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Johnson's strategy: Lead all the way
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FRENCH OPEN TENNIS
Verkerk looks to cap unlikely run
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Stadler penalized 2 strokes at Sr. PGA

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