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Espen Knutsen

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Espen Knutsen (b. January 12, 1972 in Oslo, Norway) is a retired professional forward who played 5 seasons in the National Hockey League. He is nicknamed "Shampoo" in Norway because his father is a hairdresser.

Drafted to the NHL from Vålerenga IF by the Hartford Whalers 204th overall of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, Knutsen did not come to North America before 1997, playing in the GET-Ligaen with Vålerenga and in the Elitserien with Djurgårdens IF. The Anaheim Mighty Ducks had acquired his rights in 1996 and signed him; after a disappointing season where he spent more time with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks than anything, he decided to return to Djurgårdens.

He was however given a second chance in the NHL in 2000 by the Columbus Blue Jackets thanks to assistant coach George Kingston who had coached Knutsen and the Norwegian National Team. Knutsen responded very well with 53 points in 66 games (11 goals, 42 assists). His numbers dropped a bit the next season, but he nevertheless became the first Norwegian to take part to the NHL All-Star Game, named to the World Team as a replacement for an injured player. Injuries totally spoiled the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons; soon after being assigned to the AHL's Syracuse Crunch, Knutsen returned to Djurgårdens.

Knutsen is recognised as one of the most talented Norwegian ice hockey players ever; unfortunately for him, he is especially remembered for his invlovement in the accident that costed 13 years old Brittanie Cecil's life in 2002 at the Nationwide Arena. Knutsen's slap shot was deflected into the crowd by Calgary Flames' defenseman Derek Morris, striking the young girl in the head, which caused her death. The accident distraught him, and he helped set up a charity in Columbus in her honour.

Knutsen retired in July 2005; he took the job of head coach for Vålerenga IF.

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