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This Video Not a Big Hit With Kariya

June 09, 2003|Elliott Teaford | Times Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Paul Kariya watched the videotape of the hit Scott Stevens laid on him during the Mighty Ducks' 5-2 victory Saturday over the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.

"I didn't have any reaction to it," he said Sunday after the team's arrival in New Jersey. "I haven't been replaying it, though."

He offered a wry smile after he said the second part.

Down but not out after Stevens leveled him with an open-ice check that has sparked an ongoing debate over its legality, Kariya returned to the ice to score a second-period goal after spending 4 1/2 minutes in the dressing room getting checked out by team doctors.

The NHL took the unusual step of issuing a statement from director of officiating Andy Van Hellemond, who declared the hit to be within the rules. Kariya continued to insist it was more than a little late, but he also said that is Stevens' game.

For Kariya, scoring on a blast from the left wing past Martin Brodeur to give the Ducks a 4-1 lead late in the second period was the best revenge.

"I'll make the same plays, whatever the same play needs to be," Kariya said when relayed a comment from Brodeur, who had said that he didn't expect the Duck captain to make any plays at center ice tonight in Game 7.

"I was fine," Kariya said. "The doctors checked me out and I was jumping off the walls, so they said, 'Go ahead and go.' They checked me out physically and I was fine."

There had been some question about Kariya's toughness going into Game 6, with one Canadian columnist referring to him as 'AWOL Paul' because Kariya had only one assist in the first five games of the finals. Kariya, who had two assists and one goal in Game 6, agreed that he was deserving of criticism.

"I knew I wasn't playing my best hockey," he said. "I also knew it would eventually come around for me."

Whether the emotional lift he gave his teammates with his swift return and highlight-reel goal several shifts later propels the Ducks to their first Stanley Cup championship tonight remains to be seen. Rob Niedermayer is one Duck who believes that could prove to be the case.

"It was a very big emotional lift," he said. "When the hit happened, I think we all thought we wouldn't be seeing Paul again that game or the next one. I think it was such a big thing to come back from such a big hit, it will have a carry-over to Game 7."


Following his season-long custom, Coach Mike Babcock declared tonight's game to be the most important of the season. And for once, it wasn't a tired cliche.

For what it's worth, the Ducks won the only Game 7 in which they have played, shutting out the Phoenix Coyotes, 3-0, to win their opening-round series in 1997.


Fans can watch Game 7 tonight on the Arrowhead Pond scoreboards for $5, which goes to charity. Parking is free and concessions will be sold at reduced rates. Doors open at 4 p.m.

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