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STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS MINNESOTA VS. MIGHTY DUCKS / SERIES
REPORT | DUCK NOTES

'Pee-Wee' Earns Respect

May 16, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Little did Steve Thomas know that the "kid" he saw last summer at a youth hockey tournament would become so important to him.

Thomas was in Toronto watching his son, Christian, play when he was introduced to a baby-faced Stanislav Chistov by a mutual friend.

"He looked like he should have been getting ready to play in one of the pee-wee games," Thomas said. "It's weird. I had forgotten we met until he reminded me recently."

Eight months since their meeting, "Pee Wee" and "Stumpy" -- Thomas' nickname -- are part of an effective line for the Mighty Ducks. Chistov, a rookie, has four goals and Thomas, a 19-season veteran, has two in the playoffs.

Thomas has skated with Chistov since being acquired from Chicago on March 11, with Samuel Pahlsson later becoming the line's center.

Chistov was training in Toronto last summer while his contract with the Ducks was being negotiated. Vadim Azrilyant, who works for Chistov's agent, took him to the tournament last August.

"I said, 'Cheesy, you want to go to a movie?' " said Azrilyant, who worked for Toronto when Thomas played for the Maple Leafs. "He said, 'No, is there a hockey game?' It's August and he wanted to go to a hockey game. But it was Toronto and there is always a hockey game."

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At this point, Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been reclassified ... by those who know a thing or two about great goaltending in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Minnesota Coach Jacques Lemaire was asked about similarities between Giguere's play and Martin Brodeur's play for Lemaire when he led the New Jersey Devils to a Stanley Cup championship in 1995. Lemaire wasn't ready to make such an endorsement, but he seemed inching that way.

"You know, they're very solid, they play with a lot of confidence," said Lemaire. "You know, I think he's on top of his game right now. I saw a few games in the playoffs before us, and he was on top of his game there too."

Petr Sykora, who played seven seasons with Brodeur in New Jersey, did make the leap.

"Jiggy is playing at that level," Sykora said. "He deserves to be included among the best goaltenders in the league right now."

*

Paul Kariya, who had a cameo in one of the Mighty Duck movies, was asked by a reporter if he would consider appearing again if another sequel was made.

"Did you see my acting?" Kariya said.

His was more comfortable in his latest role. He scored two goals Wednesday, which was the second multi-goal playoff performance of his career.

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The Wild went scoreless on four power plays Wednesday and is 0 for 12 in the series.

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Duck officials have completed arrangements with the Kings, San Jose and Phoenix to hold an annual rookie tournament in early September.

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