Every once in awhile, I'll see emails that bring a smile to my face, like this one we received today from a Will Grant:
To the Ducks,
On Sunday, April 13 2014, I attended the Ducks vs. Avalanche game, and it was quite a magical experience! Not only did the Ducks pull out a tough 3-2 victory in OT, but the fans were truly treated above and beyond. The generosity and good spirits of the Ducks organization were contagious throughout the evening. I just had to write to say how thankful I am for that experience.
I am new to hockey fandom. Originally from Arkansas, there wasn’t a whole lot of hockey coverage growing up. It wasn’t until I decided to attend a Ducks game on February 28 that I realized I had found a new love. I was instantly hooked. The positive atmosphere and beauty of the Honda Center, the warmth of the crowd behind me while feeling the cold of the rink below, the speed and intensity of the game. I could see droves of happy fans, whether it be a single person with a Teemu jersey, or complete families decked out in classic Ducks gear. That night I bought a hockey jersey and knew I was a Ducks fan.
I bought a number of tickets in advance, so I already had tickets to that April 13th game. However, my roommate recently returned from Afghanistan and he wanted to splurge. We ended up with glass seats that night, and it was completely amazing. Since it was Fan Appreciation Night, ticket numbers were being called out all night for various prizes.
I had been chatting with the gentleman next to me and his granddaughter, and he mentioned one of the giveaways being displayed. I looked up and it was the seats that I had previously purchased! I was totally amazed, but was doubtful I would be able to receive the prize since I had left the tickets at home. The gentleman next to me convinced me to at least give it a shot.
I remembered that I had taken a picture of the tickets earlier, as I was trying to give them away to friends. Nobody had taken them, mainly because I live in San Diego county, so not too many of my friends want to make that journey. I walked up to the prize table and explained the situation. The staff member was very patient with my situation, and decided the best course of action would be to reprint my ticket. She was able to reprint the ticket, and in no time I was given 10 $50 American Express gift cards! I have never won anything in my life, so $500 was already something else for me.
I went back to my seat and talked to that gentleman again, and decided to give his granddaughter one of the gift cards. If it wasn’t for them I would have never noticed that my ticket was announced. Also, he had mentioned how charitable his granddaughter was, and had been telling me all night about his immense love for the Ducks.
The Ducks played an amazing game, and won in a dramatic finish. Afterwards, I saw the most amazing thing of all. Teemu Selanne’s last home game, and everyone was so emotional. Teemu actually came up and gave his stick to that gentleman’s granddaughter! I was witnessing all of this from only a few feet away, and saw how much it meant to them. The fans throughout the Honda Center showed their love for Selanne, and he returned the favor.
The Ducks organization, from top to bottom, is one of the most friendly and inspiring groups I have ever encountered. The ability to create moments like the previous mentioned is an opportunity this organization capitalizes on time and time again. I realize my experience is only a drop in the bucket compared to what goes on throughout the year in the Honda Center. I have decided that I want to be in a career that is so rewarding. To be able to give so much in such a professional way while still enjoying being part of such an incredible team. That is my new goal.
I know this has been a rather lengthy thank you, but I just had to attempt to convey the magnitude of my thanks to everyone working with the Ducks. I have not had a negative experience thus far, and will always be a Ducks fan after this past season.
|Photo courtesy of @artofdave
The mask is the brainchild of airbrush artist and custom mask painter David Gunnarsson of Sweden, who has created several incredible designs, including some of Andersen's. One of those is the Stadium Series mask that Andersen didn't get a chance to wear in the game at Dodger Stadium, since Jonas Hiller started and finished that 3-0 shutout of the Kings. (Andersen did sport the mask in practice and warmups.)
Inspired by the incredibly popular The Lego Movie, the new mask depicts the character Emmet wearing a Ducks jersey that looks similar to the one worn in the Stadium Series game, with a retro Mighty Ducks logo shield on the front. Emmet, with a goalie mask on his head, is shown building what looks like a brick wall made out of Legos.
I talked to Andersen this afternoon about the mask and its painter:
"I’ve been working with David for three years, I think. He’s really creative, and he’ll throw some ideas at me and I’ll tell him what I like. I think it was originally meant for the Stadium Series game, but at the last second he went with a different design for that and decided to save the Lego idea for later. He came up with the idea because Lego is from Denmark and only an hour from where I grew up. I liked the idea, and I think it’s really good-looking with the orange on the jersey, since we have some orange on the jersey that we wore in the playoffs.
"When I was a kid, I had Legos and David told me that he still likes to help his kids build with Legos. I remember when my brothers and sister would get Legos at Christmas and all the kids would want to help them build with them. It’s kind of fun. I actually just saw the pictures today of the final mask, and I think it’s going to look really good."
Andersen said he has already seen photos of the finished product, which will be ready by the start of next season.
CLICK HERE for the full Q&A with Freddy.
As anniversaries go, this one will always be a little bittersweet for me.
Eight years ago on this day, my mom passed away after a year-long battle with lung cancer. One of my reasons for moving down here and taking this job in 2005 was to be closer to her and my dad in her final months. And I know she would have loved to see what I experienced in this building on the night of June 6, 2007.
So you can imagine that when I watched Chris Pronger carrying the puck from behind the net with the seconds ticking down to zero, Ryan Getzlaf shaking his gloves off his hands (looking like an excited little boy) and jumping into J.S. Giguere's arms, the crowd noise reaching a level like none I'd ever heard before, fireworks popping, black and orange confetti falling from the sky and the victory song from "Rocky" coming on ... well, you can imagine it was a little emotional for me.
And my father -- the guy who grew up on the East Coast rooting for Gump Worsley, Rocket Richard and the New York Rangers, who played hockey through high school, who went to some of the first Mighty Ducks games in 1993 and remembers thinking the Pond was too pretty for a hockey arena -- was here that night. He's been here for almost all of the home games since then.
He was part of that roaring crowd, he saw the fireworks, picked confetti out of his hair (and still has some of it under glass at home over a team photo), saw the Stanley Cup being passed around by the players on his favorite team -- his son's team. When all of it finally died down that night and he was heading out of the arena, I called him on his cell phone. He answered it with one word:
Seven years later, I can still remember it well. It really was unbelievable.
- - - - -
One more thing:
The final horn that night sounded at 7:35 p.m. Pacific time -- the exact moment the Ducks officially became Stanley Cup champions. So when the clock strikes 7:35 tonight, maybe call a friend, turn to a loved one, someone who shared that magical night with you -- and propose a toast.
I know I will.
We were going through photos of Ducks winger Patrick Maroon and realized that in true Jordanesque fashion, he's frequently caught with his tongue hanging out, even in the most intense moments of a game.
It's especially the case in these playoffs. When I asked him about it today, he said it's because he's subconciously feeling around for the mustache that has grown with his playoff beard, which he's not quite used to yet. "I kind of like playing with it though," he said of the facial growth.
When I mentioned all the photos, he said, "Is it bad? Do I look like a creeper?"
Certainly not, but here is a sampling of tongue-out photos:
"I don't know," said the man of few words. "Just seemed like the thing to do at the time."
Here it is, if you haven't seen it:
After almost two weeks of playoffs, the beard has grown into a significant presence on my face -- although, it currently leans more toward “unemployed and lazy” rather than the “rugged and virile” look I’m going for. (Not to mention, there is an alarming amount of salt in that pepper.)
A number of friends – and more importantly, my fiancée – have recommended I clean it up in certain spots, namely the neck and upper cheek areas. I, however, have always been under the impression that you never touch a playoff beard, that is until your team has played its final playoff game. (Plus, one of the joys of growing out the beard is that it takes me approximately 45 seconds to get ready in the morning.)
I’ve gotten conflicting opinions, so I decided to take the matter into the Ducks locker room and ask some of the more fertile beard growers their opinions.
I started, of course, with the guy who has unanimously been deemed Hairiest Duck – young Kyle Palmieri. Out of pure necessity, he sides on the “trim it” side of the spectrum.
“I have to, or else my beard will connect to my chest hair,” he said. “So, I need to keep it trimmed a little bit on the neck and under the eyes. I know Winny [Daniel Winnik] has the same issues, so you kind of need to take care of it or it will become a problem.”
Winnik confirmed that. “I trim the cheeks, or else it will grow into my eyes,” he said. “I don’t trim the neck, just touch it up a bit.”
He happened to be walking down the hallway next to another guy who has sprouted an admirable beard, Patrick Maroon. “I don’t do anything with the neck,” he said, then pointed to his upper cheek. “I just trim it right here. You have to.”
I checked with Teemu Selanne, a guy who had a pretty decent growth during that ’07 Cup run. “I shave my neck a little bit. I hate when I go like that and I can feel it,” he said, while looking down to the ground and touching his chin to his chest.
“It’s up to you though. If it doesn’t bother you, don’t do it.”
Francois Beauchemin is having his beard growth photographed day-by-day throughout the postseason by one of our Ducks publicists (here is today's). Also, he’s one of the manliest men I've ever known, so I figured he’d be good to ask. He said he hasn’t started cleaning up his beard yet, but he will soon.
“I think it looks a little cleaner,” he said. “Some guys let it go, and it starts to grow into the chest."
He continued, “When the neck and the chest get together, it gets a little ugly.”
That quote alone is pretty awesome.
I decided there was one man in this building whose opinion on this topic I trust the most, the man who has grown one of the most prolific playoff beards in the history of this great game.
I’m talking about this one:
Scott Niedermayer, it turned out, thought I was joking at first. But when he saw the severity of my face, he turned serious.
(Okay, not really. He was laughing pretty much the whole time.)
I could have sworn I remembered the beard pictured above as growing boundless, without being touched by human hand over those magical eight weeks in 2007. But Scotty shot that down.
“I trimmed it,” he said, as my shoulders slumped in disappointment. “I had to. It was going to get really ugly if I didn’t.”
Having won four Stanley Cups, he’s been around his share of abundant playoff beards, and he said each man treats his whiskers differently.
“There is always sort of a nice middle ground,” he said. “Some guys can’t afford to trim anything, and some guys really need to. At least that was always my opinion. Maybe some guys are brave enough not to.”
Bottom line: Scotty trims it. I’m trimming it. Case closed.
Today, Hermosa Drive Elementary in Fullerton had a #PaintItOrange day on campus and took things to a whole other level. With the help of the City of Fullerton Fire Department and Police Department, the entire school got together to create this beautiful image below. (Click the image for a larger version.)
Meanwhile, you can CLICK HERE for more great photos from today at Hermosa Drive.
Robidas himself broke down a little bit while talking to reporters about it on Wednesday night.
Just today, we got an email through Contact Us on the Ducks website from someone named Jonathan Soloman, which we will pass on to Robidas. Here it is:
My name is Jonathan. I am an Irish Hockey player and a huge Ducks fan. I am just finishing up studying in Canada and am extremely happy to be watching the Ducks games at a reasonable time, instead of 3am.
I watched the game on Monday night and like most of the Anaheim Ducks Fan base, I was extremely disappointed to see you get hurt. You've made a huge impact on the team since you arrived at trade deadline. Even from afar it is clear that you bring a hugely veteran presence to the team and it is evident how much effort you put in each night. That is the true measure of leadership!
I find myself writing you this message after seeing your interview about your injury and I wanted to let you know that you have the entire fan-base's support. (In fact from the reaction of everyone in Dallas, you clearly have all of their support as well). Your interview was very human and true. I want you to know that we all believe in you! To come back from a broken leg once is inspirational and you have truly inspired me!
I broke my leg during the opening game of my season last year and spent all year trying to get fit in time for the Championship game. I did, but I could not get my fitness levels high enough to play the minutes I wanted to and we lost 8-2 to a very strong Cambridge University varsity team. By no means is my experience anywhere near as difficult as yours, but I want you to know that you've given me the strength to hit this off-season hard so that I can go back to the UK next year and try to win that game. Thank you!
I truly believe that you are more than strong enough to come back from this latest injury and to come back next season and have a huge year. Over the past few months you have taught me about the importance of perseverance, and I hope that this message finds it way to you and that it gives you strength in your recovery. I was told once that you have to rise up and attack everyday with enthusiasm - I try to live my life by this motto and I has given me lots of strength when I have needed it. I hope it offers you even the slightest bit of solace.
You are an inspiration to so many. Coming back from one broken leg offered you the chance to do something great, coming back a second time offers you the chance to do something incredible! You are a fantastic player and I believe that you can get back and have a really shot at a Cup! Go out and attack it!
Thank you for your inspiration!
The schools have in turn submitted photos of their students taking part, and we've put the best ones into a gallery here.
One of our favorite photos came yesterday from Mattie Lou Maxwell Elementary in Anaheim, which you may recall was part of a Ducks Power PLAY! campus beautification project back in 2012. Part of that project was building the students a street hockey rink on their playground, and they all crammed into it yesterday to take these fantastic photos (click for a larger version):
But there was one story from last night that you probably didn't see.
After the game was over, and all of the magic from that postgame ovation had finally died down, a pretty big group of fans waited for Teemu at the top of the ramp at the north end of Honda Center. You'll frequently see a handful of fans there after games, because that's where players drive out of the arena on their way home. But well after the game had ended, they had yet to see Teemu.
That's because he was still in the building, having a late dinner at the Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 Club with his business manager, Pasi Jaatinen, and about a half dozen friends who flew in from Finland to surprise him. In fact, it's a lot of the same guys who he brought in to watch him play in the Stanley Cup Final in 2007, and last night he didn't know they were there until they showed up behind the glass during warmups.
|Here's Teemu signing for the fans at around 1:30 a.m.
When he finally headed out of Honda Center at around 1:30 a.m., those fans were still up there waiting for him. According to Teemu, the modest group of mostly adults all of a sudden got much larger when he arrived, growing to close to 100 people. That's because those fans' kids were sleeping in their cars and were woken up to join the group once Teemu pulled up.
Nevertheless, he stayed and signed for every last one of them. When I told him I couldn't believe that, he just laughed and said, "How could I not?!"