By Adam Brady
Sunday night in Winnipeg was all about Teemu Selanne, as the Ducks legend made a celebrated final visit to the city where his NHL career began 21 years ago.
But what might have been lost in the hubbub of one of many milestone moments that will come with Selanne’s farewell season was the career birth of a Ducks teammate who is 24 years younger than Selanne.
Defenseman Hampus Lindholm, whom the Ducks took with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, made his debut that night against the Jets. And he hardly looked like a player who won’t turn 20 until next January.
“Hampus did really good,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “We were a little nervous for him but I thought he handled it like a pro. He can skate. He was making the right plays. I was really happy with his game.”
In his relatively short time in Anaheim, Lindholm appears just as composed outside the rink as he does in it. The native of Helsingborg, Sweden is soft-spoken but sharp, and remained that way after a Wednesday practice in which he reflected on his NHL debut.
Were you nervous at all playing in your first game?
I really wasn’t. That’s just how I am as a person. I never get that nervous playing hockey. I would get more nervous if the guys told me to go up on stage and sing a song. But I’ve been playing hockey for a while. You know what you can do out there, and you know your limits. Of course you get butterflies before the game, but I mostly play better when it’s a big game, so I just enjoy it. I just go out there and have fun, play my game and play as hard as I can. I can’t do much more than that.
Why do you think you play better in games like that?
I would say every player would like big situations more. If you have a full crowd and they scream loudly and cheer for you, it’s a fun time to play. The game is on the line. That’s the game you want to play. It’s such a special feeling that you can’t really describe it. You just get into the game much easier
What makes you more nervous, playing in your first NHL game or hitting a tee shot yesterday at the Ducks golf tournament?
The tee shot, for sure [laughs].
Does it blow your mind at all that you’re a 19-year-old playing hockey at this level?
Of course. I don’t take anything for granted though. I know I have to work my [rear] off to stay here. These guys are such great athletes on ice and great guys off ice, and I’m just trying to do my best to show that I want to stay here.
Who did you hear from after the game?
I talk to my parents every day, I would say. Or at least my dad. He and my mom are always watching my games back home in Sweden. I sent a text to my dad to tell him I was playing, and they were up at around 4 a.m. watching the game. My dad told me in the third period his eyes started to close a little bit.
You’ve been paired with Francois Beauchemin on defense. Has that helped you?
I couldn’t ask for a better partner. He’s so solid, so smart out there, always in the right spots. If you make a small mistake, he’s going to be in the right position. He’s always there helping you and talking and stuff. He’s making it easier for me out there, and I’m trying to make it easy for him.
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