Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Selanne Lavishes Praise on Maatta

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Selanne Lavishes Praise on Maatta

Article excerpt

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Teemu Selanne likely was ramping up his workouts in advance of his third NHL training camp in August 1994 when fellow Finn Olli Maatta was born.

Selanne, an Anaheim Ducks winger and future Hall of Famer, is the oldest active player in the NHL at 43 years-plus. During the Olympic tournament last month in Sochi, Russia, he sure liked what he saw of Maatta, the Penguins' 19-year-old defenseman.

"It's unbelievable," Selanne said before the Ducks and Penguins met at Honda Center late Friday night.

"It's amazing how these days young guys can come in the league and be ready like that."

Selanne -- the tournament MVP playing in his record-tying sixth Olympics in hockey -- and Maatta helped Finland win the bronze medal. Maatta had two goals, three assists in six games.

"Even at the Olympics, when he played best against best, he was so calm," Selanne said. "He didn't look like he was a first-year player. It was fun to follow him.

"And also off the ice -- how much work he does every day for preparation. It's truly professional stuff."

Maatta, selected by the Penguins 22nd overall at the 2012 NHL draft, had two goals Thursday in a 5-3 loss at San Jose. It was his first multiple-goal game in the NHL and his third multiple-point game in the past five outings going into the Ducks game. He has nine goals, 18 assists in his 61 games.

"It's fun to watch when the young guys are ready like that right away," Selanne said. "I remember when I was 18, 19, I wouldn't have been ready.

"Pittsburgh has done a great job with feeding that confidence. He's so confident and calm. They have done something because not only playing-wise, but the whole package is there."

Selanne spent some time talking with Maatta in Sochi. He found Maatta to be quiet and respectful, rarely speaking when surrounded by veterans unless he was asked a question.

"But, in a smaller group, he gets in a good conversation," Selanne said. "He throws some funny lines here and there. You can see how much respect he has for older players.

"But what a great kid. Unbelievable. I met his mom there, too. He comes from a good, solid family. …

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