Jets' Selanne Vows To Come Back Strong He Has A Torn Achilles' Tendon. No Stranger To Injury, He Plans To Make The Best Of The Situation.

Posted: January 30, 1994

Some players sulk when they're injured. Some go into seclusion. And some, such as Winnipeg Jets right winger Teemu Selanne, make the best of the situation and come back stronger.

Selanne, the heart and soul of the Jets' drive to the Western Conference playoffs, tore his right Achilles' tendon in the second period of Wednesday's 3-1 loss to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

But when Selanne hobbled home on crutches Thursday, he didn't complain about having to miss the next six to eight weeks of the season. And he didn't moan about the extensive and grueling rehabilitation he is facing.

Instead, last season's rookie of the year - he had 76 goals - brought up the memory of the two broken legs he suffered five years ago and promised to gain from this experience, just as he gained from that one.

"That time, I grew up a lot," Selanne said of his old injury. "I started to respect a lot of things more. I realized hockey is just a game. I hope now that I can learn something about life and other things."

Selanne, who has 25 goals this season, had his tendon severed when Anaheim's Don McSween accidentally clipped Selanne's heel with his skate blade while Selanne was throwing a check.

"I knew right away that it was pretty bad," Selanne said. "I didn't know exactly what it was, but I knew it was serious because I had so much pain."

RATING THE BLUE LINE. Flyers coach Terry Simpson rated his five young defensemen last week, and 23-year-old rookie Stewart Malgunas received the highest grade.

Simpson said that Malgunas, the only one of the five players who has not been scratched for poor play this season, has shown the most improvement since the season began. Simpson likes Malgunas' toughness and the way he avoids making the big mistake.

The coach said that 26-year-old Jeff Finley is becoming more aggressive, but that he still has trouble with consistency. Rookie Jason Bowen, 20, gets nervous in tough situations sometimes, Simpson said, and 22-year-old Dimitri Yushkevich is tough, but was scratched a few weeks ago for lackadaisical play.

Ryan McGill, a 24-year-old who had been scratched for seven straight games,

hasn't been playing physically enough, the coach said.

"I'd say there's been improvement in everybody," Simpson said. "It's kind of a hard thing to really know, because if you're here every day it's kind of hard to see that gradual improvement."

Through Thursday, the Flyers had allowed 177 goals, tops in the Atlantic Division and second to Ottawa in the Eastern Confernce.

DISAPPOINTMENT. Who's the most disappointing rookie in the NHL this season? How about Markus Naslund of the Pittsburgh Penguins?

Through Thursday, Naslund, the Pens' first-round draft pick in 1991 and a former star in the Swedish Elite League, had just three goals and four assists in 46 games. And with an annual paycheck of $900,000, that figures out to $300,000 per goal.

A lack of confidence and some uncertainty about how to handle confrontations in the rough-and-tumble NHL seem to be Naslund's biggest problems right now. So the Penguins have shuttled the 6-foot, 190-pound right winger between Pittsburgh and Cleveland of the International Hockey League to get him more ice time and exposure to physical play.

The going has been rough, but the Pens are a long way from giving up on Naslund. Playing on a line with veterans Ron Francis and Joey Mullen, Naslund picked up an assist in Pittsburgh's 4-2 victory over Ottawa on Tuesday, and then scored his first goal since Dec. 4 in Thursday's 3-0 whitewash of Quebec.

It was the first time all season that Naslund had recorded points in consecutive games.

"I think his confidence level is really getting up there," Penguins coach Eddie Johnston said. "That's very important. The last two games, his confidence level has come up. I think he has to believe in that."

WHO'S THAT GUY? Old habits were hard to break and a little embarrassing for Vancouver coach Pat Quinn and his five-man staff last week. The Canucks made a mistake Monday when they mistakenly listed No. 17 on their official scorecard as Dixon Ward instead of Jimmy Carson.

Somehow, the coaches forgot that they had traded Ward on Jan. 8 to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Carson. By the time Quinn and his staff realized the mistake, the game against the Edmoton Oilers had started, and Carson was ruled ineligible to play.

"What can I say? I screwed up," Quinn said.

Fortunately for the Canucks, they saved some face by winning the game, 5-4.

RACICOT ON THE OUTS. How quickly things can change in the world of sports. Montreal goaltender Andre Racicot was a valuable member of last season's Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens. He had a 17-5-1 record and a 3.39 goals-against average as the backup to Patrick Roy.

This season, however, Racicot has struggled and, as the Canadiens plodded into their weekend games against Buffalo and the Flyers, the talk was hot and heavy around Montreal that Racicot would be demoted to Fredricton of the American Hockey League and replaced by Les Kuntar.

The numbers are not pretty. After losing to the Florida Panthers on Monday, Racicot was 2-6-2 with a 4.40 goals-against average.

Said Montreal coach Jacques Demers after Racicot was burned for six goals in the 8-3 loss to Florida, "I was disappointed in the way he played."

The expansion Panthers finished their schedule against the Canadiens with a 3-0-1 record.

LONG TIME COMING. Calgary center Robert Reichel had three game-winning goals in a recent five-game span for the Flames and would have had four had not Jari Kurri of the Kings scored with just 3.5 seconds left in Monday's 3-3 tie. . . . The Toronto Maple Leafs' 3-0 shutout of the Boston Bruins on Jan. 10 was the first time that the Leafs had held the Bruins scoreless at Boston Garden since March 12, 1961. . . . From New Year's Day through Wednesday, Toronto's Vincent Damphousse had five goals and eight assists. . . . Hartford's Pat Verbeek had seven goals in his recent 10-game point streak. . . . The Ottawa Senators had 24 points through Friday, matching their total of last season. . . . Jim Schoenfeld, who replaced Terry Murray as head coach of the Washington Capitals on Thursday, had been an ESPN commentator for the last two seasons. The Capitals were 20-23-4 under Murray this season and 163-134-28 since he took over the team during the 1989-90 season. . . . Injured New York Islanders star Pierre Turgeon was scheduled to undergo surgery on his right cheekbone yesterday. Turgeon sustained a fractured cheekbone Wednesday during warm-ups in Toronto. Turgeon, three points short of 600 for his career, has 20 goals and 36 assists. He could be out for as long as two weeks.

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