PHILADELPHIA -- Pretty interesting sight as longtime NHLer Sami Kapanen walked into a downtown Philadelphia hotel with his son Kasperi Kapanen. Or should we say was seemingly dwarfed by his son Kasperi.
Sami Kapanen, a durable, underappreciated performer who played 831 NHL games with Hartford/Carolina and Philadelphia, joked with a couple of reporters about how he missed out on the tall factor in his family. But he’s obviously excited that his son has the size he does (Kasperi is listed at 5-foot-11 but seems taller) and at the prospect of seeing him selected in the first round of Friday’s draft as one of the top offensive players available, especially in the town where he enjoyed success with Ken Hitchcock’s Flyers during a five-year run that included a trip to the 2004 Eastern Conference finals.
Kasperi has been working out with his dad for a month or so in Philadelphia after taking part in the draft combine in Toronto last month.
The skilled forward, who is playing in Finland, is projected to go somewhere in the middle of the first round, which led to a discussion of one of his old coaches, Paul Maurice, now the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets.
Kapanen spoke in glowing terms about his experiences with Maurice during their shared time in Hartford and when the franchise moved to Carolina. During that time, Maurice guided the 2002 Hurricanes to an unlikely berth in the Stanley Cup finals.
Kapanen recalled Maurice’s even-handed approach to trying to make him a better player, not yelling or belittling him but rather pointing out games in which he was at his best and games where he was at his worst, and encouraging him to find a way to bridge the gap between the two.
So, what are the chances that a second generation of Kapanen ends up being coached by Maurice?
The Jets draft ninth, which might be a bit early for Kasperi Kapanen, but you never know.