Friday, June 3, 2011
Updated: June 4, 8:17 AM ET
Seidenberg's impact quiet but deadly
By Joe McDonald
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg has plenty of memories of youth hockey, but this one stands out: The German-born Seidenberg was competing in a world-renowned tournament in Quebec in 1994. During his team's visit, it attended a Quebec Nordiques game and the youth players were able to meet German hockey legend Uwe Krupp.
"He came out of the locker room and we were all just staring up at him. We were all in awe," Seidenberg said. "He gave us all signatures on little pieces of paper. It was the greatest thing ever."
The following season, the Nordiques relocated to Colorado and became the Avalanche for the 1995-96 season. It was then that Krupp became a legend in his country because he scored the game-winning goal to clinch the Stanley Cup championship for Colorado.
The Avalanche beat the Florida Panthers in four games, but Game 4 went into triple overtime before Krupp netted the winner. Later in his career he won another Cup with the Detroit Red Wings (2002).
Seidenberg is hoping he can create another memorable moment and bring the Cup back to Germany.
"It's been a lot of fun," Seidenberg said of this current run by the Bruins. "Being able to help a team go this far has been a good feeling and hopefully it'll keep going."
Boston's opponent in the Cup final, the Vancouver Canucks, also have a German-born player. The Canucks' Christian Ehrhoff and Seidenberg have known each other since they were 17 and played in national tournaments for Germany.
"We get along well off the ice," Seidenberg said. "Last year we actually played together at the Olympics. But right now we don't really talk, obviously. There's enough time to talk later. But for now we both want to win the Stanley Cup."
Truth be told, Seidenberg is one of the reasons the Bruins have reached the Cup final for the first time since 1990. For all the talk about how well captain Zdeno Chara has played, Seidenberg has been arguably the team's best player.
He is silent but deadly on the ice.
Ever since Bruins coach Claude Julien decided to pair Seidenberg and Chara together prior to Game 3 of the Montreal series, things have been clicking for the Bruins.
"You couple him with [Chara] and I mean you've got a tremendous shutdown pair," said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. "And the fact that he can play, and this is common for European players that they play the offside, to be a shutdown guy, to make the plays on the wall with his backhand in the offensive zone and the defensive zone. That's a terrific accomplishment.
"He's just so strong and he makes the right play," said Chiarelli. "Strong on the puck, I don't know how often you've seen him lose a puck battle. He's confident now. He's a strong, strong player. He's thick and he can log those minutes, like those 25-plus minutes, and recover very quickly. So he's a very valuable piece of the puzzle."
When Chiarelli acquired Seidenberg from the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline in 2010, the GM knew the defenseman would be a tremendous asset for the Bruins.
Seidenberg quickly made an impact, but he suffered a season-ending injury on April 3, 2010 -- a lacerated tendon in his left forearm. His absence was clearly felt during the Stanley Cup playoffs last season.
He's remained healthy this season and has been a major contributor during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"Very exciting," Chara said. "He's a very steady defenseman. He really picked up his game, especially offensively, logging a lot of minutes, playing in all the situations. We are both the same as far as off-ice workouts. We like to do extra to stay fit. He's just one of those guys that's been really fun to play with."
Seidenberg is a workhorse and has been logging close to 30 minutes a game. When he jumps into the play offensively, he usually creates quality scoring opportunities for his teammates. He's also one of the strongest players on the ice.
"He's playing great," said Bruins forward David Krejci. "He's like a machine. If he plays well, everybody plays well. If everybody else plays well, he plays well. It's a team effort and we need every single guy here."
The Bruins trail the Vancouver Canucks 1-0 in the Cup finals, with Game 2 on Saturday at Rogers Arena. If the Bruins are able to win the Cup and return it to Boston for the first time since 1972, Seidenberg's name will forever be etched into the sacred chalice.
And if that occurs, we're guessing it will also become his new favorite hockey moment.
|Dennis Seidenberg, who was acquired from the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline in 2010, has been a difference maker for the Bruins.
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.