Bill Meltzer reports that Sami Kapanen has decided to finish his run with the Flyers. The news is not wholly unexpected. The 34-year-old winger who twice proved himself the NHL’s fastest skater showed signs of slowing and had difficulty finishing on scoring attempts. By virtue of Kapanen’s retirement, the Flyers will save $1.25 million on their cap for 2008-09.
What I’ll miss most about Sami Kapanen is the pure, fearless tenacity he brings to every game. He doggedly pursued the puck into corners against some of the biggest, toughest players in the NHL. He was a small player who found success before the speed-favoring regulations of the new NHL – even on a Flyers squad known for big, slow defensive players. And I can’t count the number of times I saw Kapanen throw a body check on Zdeno Chara. That type of character cannot be replaced.
The ESPN commentators on the following video (and yes, sometimes they do show hockey clips) mention Kapanen’s impressive attempts to get to the bench after sustaining the infamous Tucker hit. Countless others have focused on Roenick’s heroic goal. I’ve written on Primeau’s leadership in that moment. But that game – that series – does not end in a Flyers victory without the sheer determination of Sami Kapanen.