fans of college hockey, Paul Kariya will always be that
amazing freshman from Maine, putting on a clinic in Milwaukee
in 1993, and skating back to Orono with the NCAA title and
the Hobey in tow. It might surprise some to realize that
this is Kariya's ninth season in the NHL, and that fresh-faced
kid in the Black Bears sweater is now a 28-year-old veteran
who has seen the good and the bad of the pro game's battles.
the NHL's Western Conference Finals set to begin in St.
Paul, Kariya's seventh-seed Mighty Ducks were battling the
sixth-seed Wild not only on the ice but to determine who
was the playoffs' true Cinderella story. On the heels of
the Angels' improbable run to the World Series title, most
were giving the nod to the team that plays just down Katella
Avenue from Cinderella's castle at Disneyland.
College Hockey caught up with Kariya at the landmark St.
Paul Hotel, in the heart of Minnesota's capital city, for
a talk about pucks and the off-ice tragedies that have made
the past few years a challenge for the Ducks' perpetually
College Hockey: You're obviously happy to be in the Western
Conference Finals no matter who the opponent is, but being
from Vancouver originally, were you quietly hoping to face
the Canucks instead of the Wild?
Kariya: Going back to Vancouver would have been
special, no doubt, with my brothers and all of my family
there. But on the other hand, playing Minnesota saves me
a ton of money in ticket requests.
After what happened in Minnesota at the Frozen Four last
spring, did any of your friends from Maine encourage you
to exorcise some of the demons at the Xcel Energy Center
That was pretty disappointing for me and for our family.
That was Martin's one shot at a title, but it was a great
accomplishment for that team to get there, and Minnesota
certainly played well.
Does Martin get any ribbing from you and Steve, seeing as
how he's the only Kariya brother who didn't win a NCAA title?
Oh, we give him plenty of crap in the summer, that's for
After Maine beat New Hampshire for the title in '99, at
the Pond in Anaheim no less, how do you and Jason Krog get
We didn't ever get to play against each other,
but I think there's a natural rivalry there. He's a great
Do you two ever compare Hobey trophies to see whose is more
dented or anything like that?
(laughing): He always complains that I had a better
team behind me when I won, and he had to do a better job
to get the Hobey.
On a more serious note, where were you when you heard that
Shawn Walsh had died, and how did you react?
I was at home in California. I looked at it two ways. It
was obviously hard to lose such a great man and a person
that meant so much to me, but on the other side of it, you
never want to see someone suffer. He was in a lot of pain
at the end, so it was a blessing in some ways too.
You recently lost your father as well. Has this season with
the Ducks and the success you've had been dedicated to him
in any way?
No, that's not really my way. It's certainly been
a tough year at times. Losing a parent is a part of life
that most of us will have to deal with at some point, but
the support of my teammates has meant a lot. All of my family
and my friends have been very helpful.
In that first playoff game in Detroit, taking the Red Wings
to two overtimes and getting out-shot by a wide margin,
were you on the bench thinking, "No problem. We'll
be in Minnesota in a few weeks and everything will be fine?"
It's been a wild ride, and there have been a few of those
crazy overtime games that we've been able to win. But it's
certainly been a fun few weeks.