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Category: Honda Center

Anaheim mayor calls Honda Center upgrade 'fan-tastic'

Honda Center

Ducks and Honda Center owners Henry and Susan Samueli were joined by Anaheim city leaders Wednesday in a ground-breaking ceremony for the $20-million Grand Terrace project, described as the most extensive upgrade in the venue's history and another sign of the city's still-strong interest in enticing the NBA's Sacramento Kings to move south.

"We can envision a day fans will attend NHL hockey, concerts and NBA basketball games here," Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said at a ceremony complete with hard hats for guests, shovels in the ground and Ducks mascot Wild Wing at the wheel of a bulldozer.

"It will be fan-tastic," Tait added, a reference to the dated NBA ad campaign that some in the crowd missed, causing the mayor to explain, "That's supposed to be funny."

Anaheim is awaiting a March 1 deadline that Kings' owners have for Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to reveal a financing plan for a new arena in the state capital.

The NBA last year asked Kings owners the Maloof brothers to delay a decision on moving south for a year, allowing Sacramento officials more time to produce an arena plan. The move came after Anaheim last March approved a $75-million bond plan that would improve the Honda Center and provide a $50-million loan to the team's owners.

Anaheim was to merely act as an escrow broker in that now-expired deal, with the $75 million actually coming from the Samuelis.

Tait said Wednesday that if a similar deal comes about, the city will stay out of it, after being subjected to criticism by some who were confused about its involvement in the Samueli loan, thinking it was a typical bond deal, which it was not.

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Ducks' Teemu Selanne to play in 1,300th NHL game


Every time Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne steps on the ice or records a point, he seems to reach another career milestone or move up on the NHL’s all-time scoring lists.

The 41-year-old Finn was poised to hit another milestone Tuesday against the Dallas Stars by playing in his 1,300th NHL game. That will make him the 52nd player in NHL history, ninth European-born player and only the second Finn — after Teppo Numminen --to reach that number.  Among active players he ranks fourth, after Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom (1,535), Washington’s Roman Hamrlik (1,347), and Philadelphia’s Jaromir Jagr (1,307).

“It’s a big number, yes,” he said after the Ducks’ morning skate at the Honda Center. “A couple guys reminded me today there was some money on the board. They don’t forget stuff like that.”

While he’d be happy to win the cash teammates put up for him, he’s even happier to still be playing and to feel no problems with the knee that has bothered him the last few seasons.

“A lot of good things have happened that I can play so many games,” said Selanne, who leads the team in scoring with 39 points in 40 games. “We’re always very thankful for that.”

He said he doesn’t keep track of all the career lists he’s climbing, such as ranking 13th in goals at 651 and 22nd in points with 1,379. But reaching such a high number of games played, he said, is meaningful because it proves his longevity and ability to play at a high level for a long time.

“If you can play so many years that’s a big thing,” he said. “And still having fun. That’s good.

“It has been a more frustrating year than before but that has been my goal, to just come in here every day and try to enjoy and do what you can do and try to enjoy it as much as you can. It’s easier when you win, but still in the morning when I leave from home it’s still a happy place to come. That’s how it should be and I’m very happy it’s so.”

Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said he recalled hockey observers were skeptical after Selanne broke into the NHL with a 76-goal, 132-point performance in 1992-93.

“All us guys that were retired at that point thought he would be a flash in the pan, like, ‘Who’s this guy? The new era of hockey. There’s no checking anymore,’” Boudreau said.

“But he sure has done the test of time. And he deserves everything he gets because he’s a better person than he is a player, and he’s a great player. The goals he’s gotten, from highlights that I’ve seen, from his younger days, I mean, they’re still in a lot of top 10s of best goals ever.”

Boudreau said Selanne’s ability to crisply take a pass without breaking stride or losing control of the puck remains uncanny.

“I told him today, ‘Gordie Howe played until he was in his 50s. I don’t see what your problem is,’” Boudreau said.

Before the morning skate the Ducks recalled goaltender Jeff Deslauriers from Syracuse of the American Hockey League. Deslauriers and Iiro Tarkki were the two goalies on the ice; Jonas Hiller (lower-body injury) did not skate.

“We were hoping he would be able to skate today and back up but it’s pushed back. We’re hoping the same thing can happen for Calgary,” Boudreau said of the team’s game on Thursday. “So it’s still day to day. That’s why we brought Jeff up.”

Deslauriers has played 14 games with Syracuse and is 6-7-0 with a 3.86 goals-against average and .877 save percentage.

“I’ve seen him play some pretty good games. At the beginning of last year he was stated as maybe the savior for Edmonton’s goaltending,” Boudreau said. “I don’t know what happened, but I’ve seen him play great and I’ve seen him play not so great. Let’s hope the former more than the latter.”

The Ducks also assigned forward J.F. Jacques and defenseman Mark Fraser to Syracuse and announced that Syracuse had restructured its coaching staff. Trent Yawney was appointed associate head coach and coach Mark Holick was relegated to an associate coach. Marty Wilford will remain as assistant coach.

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Photo: Teemu Selanne. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images.


Patience has paid off for UFC fighter Cain Velasquez

Cain1UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez isn't accustomed to sitting around and living the life of a couch potato.

That created a challenge for him after he underwent surgery in January for a major tear of his right rotator cuff and doctors strictly limited his physical activity. He had to talk himself into being patient and obeying their orders, trading short-term frustration for the promise of long-term gain.

"It took five months of not doing anything," said Velasquez, known for his devotion to working out and the hours he spends in the gym. "It was hard, but I knew the less I did the faster I would come back, and I have."

Velasquez, who won his title with a first-round technical knockout of Brock Lesnar at Honda Center last October, said he is on track for a return to the scene of his triumph Nov. 12. He is scheduled to fight top contender Junior dos Santos in a five-round bout that is to headline the first UFC card broadcast on Fox.

Velasquez, a native of Salinas, said he has no doubts about his shoulder as he prepares for his bout.

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