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Selanne accepts the blame

DUCKS REPORT

April 06, 2007|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

DALLAS — One day after getting caught with an illegal stick, Teemu Selanne sought to take ownership for the misdeed that played a key part in the Ducks' 3-2 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks.

"I should have known better than that," Selanne said Thursday. "It was my fault. I should have been smarter than that."

The blade of Selanne's stick was judged to be wider than the maximum three inches allowed. Selanne said he began to use a wider blade years ago because of what he considered to be poor ice conditions across the league.

When asked if he would have used the same stick in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Selanne acknowledged that he would have if he hadn't been caught.

Instead, the Ducks' star winger spent the morning shaving down his blade.

"I decided to use a little larger blade so I can receive some passes better," said Selanne, who leads the Ducks with 45 goals and 91 points. "It was getting harder to do that because the ice was getting worse" around the league.

On Wednesday night, the Ducks, needing two points to pull closer to their first Pacific Division title, would have had a four-on-three power play to start overtime but that advantage disappeared when San Jose Coach Ron Wilson made his successful challenge after regulation ended.

Afterward, Selanne joked that Wilson "wasn't my favorite coach anymore." Selanne played under Wilson twice, as a member of the early Ducks and later with the Sharks.

If the Ducks had won, they would have eliminated the Sharks and put more pressure on the Dallas Stars. But Selanne said he doesn't think the incident will come back to haunt them.

"No, I'm not worried about that," Selanne said. "We still control our fate. We can win one of our next two games."

Indeed, the Ducks got some help from Columbus on Thursday as the Blue Jackets defeated Dallas in overtime.

A victory tonight in Dallas would clinch the division.

Selanne has a theory on how Wilson knew the stick was illegal. After a game in San Jose last month, Selanne was asked to sign one of his sticks, to be given to Wilson for coaching his 1,000th game in the NHL.

After Wednesday's game, Wilson professed that he had an "inkling" during the game but Selanne suggested he knew well before.

"He had to know," Selanne said. "He had my stick. Obviously, he knew it was too wide."

Benny Ercolani, the NHL's chief statistician, said Selanne's illegal stick marks the fourth such incident in the league this season, though he didn't release the names of the other culprits.

Last season, New York Rangers star Jaromir Jagr was caught twice in one game while Atlanta Thrashers winger Ilya Kovalchuk was nabbed four times. After one incident, Kovalchuk said that "half the league plays with illegal sticks."

"I don't think it's a big deal," he said.

Selanne said players commonly switch their illegal stick out for a legal one before the third period since coaches generally wait until a key moment to make a challenge.

For instance, last season Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle successfully challenged the stick of Sergei Samsonov, then with Boston, and the Ducks went on to score on a late power play to send the game into overtime.

However, Selanne said he has learned his lesson. "I'm not taking any chances," he said.

*

TONIGHT

at Dallas, 5:30 PDT, FSN West

Site -- American Airlines Center.

Radio -- 830.

Records -- Ducks 47-20-13; Stars 48-25-7.

Record vs. Stars -- 4-2-1.

Update -- The Ducks finished their home schedule with a 26-6-9 record after going a franchise-best 26-10-5 at home in 2005-06. The team also tied a record with 22 consecutive announced sellouts.

eric.stephens@latimes.com

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