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By Adam Brady
Director of Publications & New Media
for the Ducks and Honda Center.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.28.2012 / 11:56 AM

A couple of us here in the office were reminiscing about the '09 playoffs, when the Ducks knocked off the top-ranked Sharks and went seven games in a grueling series with Detroit (the eventual champ). We remembered where we were during that intense Game 7 and how much it broke our hearts when Dan Cleary scored the series-clinching goal for Detroit with little time remaining in regulation.

It all inspired me to go back and look up my blog post from that day. Here's a portion:

After it was all over, Detroit coach Mike Babcock called it “the best series I’ve been in since I’ve been in the league. For sure, the hardest series, most even, the least room.”

Later, he added, “What made this series so hard, what people don’t understand, is the people that have won know what it takes to win and they don’t give in."

And that's exactly what you can say about the Anaheim Ducks the past two months, a thrill ride that has us all in disbelief that it's come to a seemingly sudden end. I watched the game last night in a Newport Beach sports bar with about 30 fellow staffers, and there was a mix of reactions when that final horn sounded on the season. Some gazed at the TVs in disbelief. Some stared at their feet. A couple of the girls even cried. All of us felt sick to our stomachs. "Well," a friend of mine said, "at least we didn't go down like [expletive]s." (And by the way, he and several of his fellow Ducks ticket sales guys shaved their playoff beards into mustaches and took this photo today.)

It's pretty ironic that we're heartbroken the Ducks didn't make the conference finals, when not too long ago we didn't even think we'd be here at all. But this team teased us by never quitting. They teased us by charging into the playoffs, knocking off the top seed and fighting to the finish in a Game 7 against what is probably the best team in the league. To come that far and to come that close only made the elimination that much more heartbreaking. But, you know what? We wouldn't want it any other way. Sure the ending was harsh, but my what a great ride.

“When you’re that close, when you’re tied with a few minutes left, it’s a tough way to lose," Niedermayer said. "There are no easy ways to lose, I guess. It’s pretty disappointing, and you always think you can do more, but you look around the room, how some of these guys battled. There are a lot of guys who worked extremely hard. So I’m proud of a lot of guys, for sure.”

I think we all are.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.13.2012 / 7:20 AM
MORE PHOTOS
Yesterday, on a day typically reserved for pounding on keyboards, taking meetings and exchanging emails, the Ducks staff did something much cooler -- we made a school more beautiful.

Dozens of staffers, along with Ducks coaches, a broadcaster, a certain future Hall-of-Famer and several fans, were among the 150 volunteers to take to Mattie Lou Maxwell Elementary School in Anaheim as part of the Anaheim Ducks Power PLAY! campus makeover project. A huge amount of credit for the project goes to Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli, who donated the funds to make it happen.

It was Veteran’s Day, so the students had the day off, but the school’s teachers and staff also took part in the project, which involved the beautification of several aspects of the campus. Throughout the day, you could walk around the grounds (as I did) and constantly remark to yourself, “Wow, this is really cool.”

At one corner of the campus, a street hockey rink was being installed with the help of Ducks TV color analyst Brian Hayward. At another, raised garden beds and picnic tables were being put together -- which was the area I was assigned to. (I’ve never spent so much time with a power drill in my life.) On several of the buildings and handball courts, murals were being meticulously colored in. And all around the campus, trees were being planted, and among those getting his hands dirty while clad in the event's orange t-shirt was one Scott Niedermayer.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau and his family lent a hand as well, with Boudreau walking around and joking with the volunteers, brushing some paint on his t-shirt and face because he joked that it made him look busier.

"It's pretty eye-opening to see how many people are out here working away and changing this school," Niedermayer told a local reporter. "I think when the kids get here tomorrow morning, they're going to be in for a pretty big surprise."

That's me with Bruce and his self-inflicted paint.
Indeed, all of this will be unveiled to the kids today in a special ceremony. The day will double as one of the Ducks' Reading is the Goal days in which staffers (including myself) read to kids in their classrooms, followed by street hockey and an assembly. Mattie Lou Maxwell was chosen from among more than 300 area schools for this project as one of the first schools in the Ducks S.C.O.R.E. program (www.ducksscore.com), which was developed in 2005 with the goal of making a positive impact with youth in local schools and hockey communities throughout Southern California.

The kids at Maxwell will hopefully feel that impact, one that was certainly made on all of us who got to be part of that project. To me, that was most evident at the end of the day, when all of the work was finished. A good part of the staff stood with each other in our orange t-shirts, laughing and sharing old stories for another hour or so. 

We were surrounded by these beautiful murals, fresh-planted trees and new gardens, and I kept thinking to myself: It isn't that we have to be here. It's just that we want to be.

Frankly, I can't wait to be back there again today when the kids see it all.

Take a look at the photos

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.07.2012 / 11:12 AM
In the second episode of our new web series -- Bruce Boudreau Uncensored ... Kind Of -- the Ducks head coach touches on more topics, including his first hockey memories and the experience of being on HBO's 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: The Road to the Winter Classic back when he was Washington's coach in 2010.

While he talks about how thorough HBO was covering him and his team, what fans remember most from that series is how many expletives Boudreau used in an intermission locker room talk to his team during the first episode.

"It's funny. First of all, they aired it on a Wednesday or a Thursday night, and I knew they were airing it that day. I asked our PR guy if I cursed in the first episode. He looked at me and rolled his eyes and he said, 'Yes. You used the one certain word 17 times in 41 seconds,' which I don't even remember doing. I remember doing it every other time because I was [conscious] that the camera was rolling.

"The next day, once my mom watched it, I got a pretty good tongue-lashing from her. She told me not to use those kinds of words on TV anymore because she wouldn't be able to go out in public anymore. So, I got chastised by my mother for swearing."


As I write in the last blog post, I can't begin to tell you how great Bruce was to work with, not only in answering the dozen or so questions we gave him, but in coming up with his own wrinkles. In fact, the title of the segment, along with the introduction to it, was his idea.

We shot about 15-20 minutes worth of footage, which we'll use in this segment and future ones. And we plan to shoot more with him down the road, using questions submitted to us by fans on Twitter. (You can submit your own using the hastag #BUKO on Twitter).


The rest of episode 2 is below, and in case you missed it, here's episode 1. Look for the next segment soon, and if you'd like to submit .
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POSTED ON Friday, 11.02.2012 / 11:04 AM
In the first episode of our new web series -- Bruce Boudreau Uncensored ... Kind Of -- the Ducks head coach touches on a number of topics focusing both on and off the ice. Included in the discussion are players currently at AHL Norfolk he's excited about, the proudest moment of his hockey career and the his most embarrassing moment as a coach.

I can't begin to tell you how great Bruce was to work with, not only in answering the dozen or so questions we gave him, but in coming up with his own wrinkles. In fact, the title of the segment, along with the introduction to it, was his idea.

We shot about 15-20 minutes worth of footage, which we'll use in this segment and future ones. And we plan to shoot more with him down the road, using questions submitted to us by fans on Twitter. (You can submit your own using the hastag #BUKO on Twitter).

Here's a snippet from episode 1:

"We were playing on the day after Christmas when I was coaching in Hershey, and we had to go to Bridgeport. What we would do was, we would get in our sweatsuit [for the bus ride] and it was a four-hour drive to Bridgeport. And when you get to the game, you put your suit on. It just so happened that day, when I was changing for the game, I’ve got my shirt and my jacket and everything else – I forgot my pants.

"After the laughter from [assistant coach] Bob Woods and our GM subsided, it was, “I’ve got no pants. What are we going to do?” So, we decided, Okay, me and Bob would wear sweatsuits on the bench that day. At the last moment, our radio guy was named John Walton, and he was wearing pants. So on the bus, I said, 'Come on. Let’s switch.' And he says, 'You’re never going to get into them. They’re a 32 waist.' But I did.

“Believe it or not, they were tight. They were so tight, I never moved one inch from behind the bench. If the puck had been shot at me, I was done. I couldn’t move. I could barely breath. Bob was doing line changes, and I was just holding my breath the whole game. We had quite a laugh about that afterward, because we won the game. Off the top of my head, that’s about as embarrassing as I could get.”

Here's the rest of episode 1. Look for more segments down the road.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 10.18.2012 / 9:10 AM
A longtime colleague is leaving the hockey industry for another opportunity, and this morning he wrote a farewell email to everyone he worked with that included this:

All I can say is thank you so much for giving me a little slice of my life that I’ll never ever forget. Through the insanity of every workday and the hours a person in your positions need to be put in to help your clubs be successful -- Never, ever forget that you work for -- hands-down -- the greatest game in the entire world. I defy anyone to watch another sport and say their players are as rugged & dedicated as they are gentlemen and approachable off the ice.

These days, especially, those are words to live by.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 10.02.2012 / 4:59 PM
Chances are you didn't realize this, but today is the 20th anniversary of the opening of a Disney movie called The Mighty Ducks, which was released to audiences on October 2, 1992.

Chances are you DO know this, that the Disney movie -- starring Emilio Estevez as "a self-centered lawyer sentenced to community service coaching a rag tag youth hockey team" -- spawned two sequels, an animated series and of course led to the creation of the Disney-owned Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. (Here's some trivia: In the UK and Australia, the film was titled Champions. UK video/DVD releases are now titled The Mighty Ducks Are the Champions)

While the movie got less-than-stellar reviews and grossed $50 million at the box office, it still resonates 20 years later (although, I have to admit, I never saw it myself).

The team was purchased from the Walt Disney Co. by Henry and Susan Samueli in 2007, the home arena was eventually changed from The Pond to Honda Center and the logo and team colors were also changed. Yet the spirit of the old Mighty Ducks endures. That iconic duckbill-shaped goalie mask logo is displayed on a sleeve patch on the Ducks' popular third jersey, and you still see countless purple and jade jerseys at Honda Center. Most of all, the memories of that movie, and its effect on fans' love for the Ducks and the game hockey, lives on.

On the Ducks Facebook page, we asked fans to share what that movie meant to them, and here are some of the best responses.





































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POSTED ON Tuesday, 09.18.2012 / 10:33 AM

David McNab, the Ducks Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations and a Ducks exec since the team's inaugural season in 1993-94, has treated some of the staff lately by bringing in some archives from his late father Max McNab's NHL career.

A few days ago, he brought in the Detroit Red Wings jersey (they were of course called "sweaters" back then) that Max wore during the 1950 Stanley Cup-winning season. Here's David posing with the sweater.



This morning, McNab showed off a couple more beauties. This is the replica of the top of the Stanley Cup that each player was awarded back in those days (teams didn't start giving rings until the late '50s). It may be hard to see, but this side of the cup says DETROIT HOCKEY CLUB, INC. and below is reads MAXWELL MCNAB.



The other side: NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE, followed by STANLEY CUP WINNERS 1949-50.



Meanwhile, this chalice was awarded to each player on the team with the best regular season record (what is now the Presidents' Cup).

Very cool for David to bring this in and give us all an up-close look at some hockey history.

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POSTED ON Monday, 09.17.2012 / 2:31 PM
Sometimes the Contact Us emails that come to AnaheimDucks.com can just warm your heart, like this one we got this morning:

Hi. I'm Chandler. I'm 13 years old and I live in Salt Lake City, Utah. I don't have any idea why I love the Ducks but I have since I was 6 years old. I have traveled down and watched a game and I saw one in L.A. too. I am a huge Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan fan. All I want to say is thank you. Thank you for being examples to me to try hard and do my best in life. Not just in hockey but in school and other things as well. Thank You!

No. Thank you, Chandler.

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POSTED ON Friday, 09.07.2012 / 12:00 PM
It was one year ago today that a plane carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team of the Kontinental Hockey League crashed in Russia as it was taking off for the season-opening game in Minsk. Forty-four people died in the crash, including former Ducks defenseman Ruslan Salei, whose life was recently honored with this incredible sand animation tribute prior to the inaugural Ruslan Salei Memorial Tournament in Minsk. Scott Burnside of ESPN.com has a touching story about the Salei family trying to live on a year later.

Here is the blog post I wrote that tragic day one year ago:


Ruslan Salei 1974-2011
The horrific news hit most of us as we woke up this morning: A charter plane carrying members of the Kontinental Hockey League club Lokomotiv crashed shortly after takeoff near the city of Yaroslavl in Central Russia. Among the at least 43 people who died in the crash were several former NHLers, including coach Brad McCrimmon, Pavol Demitra, Karlis Skrastins, Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek, Jan Marek and Alexander Vasyunov. For Ducks fans, the crash hit even closer to home as it was later determined that former defenseman Ruslan Salei was among the victims. Salei was 36 years old and left behind a wife, Bethann, and three kids.

Salei, known by many as “Rusty,” was an icon in Ducks (or rather Mighty Ducks) history, having been drafted ninth overall by the organization in 1996 and playing the next 10 years in Anaheim. He still ranks fourth in team history (and first among defensemen) in games played with 594, trailing only Teemu Selanne , Steve Rucchin and Paul Kariya. Known more as a shutdown defenseman than a goal-scorer, Salei still scored one of the biggest goals in Ducks history, an overtime game-winner in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against New Jersey on May 31, 2003. It was a goal that put Anaheim back in a series they had trailed 2-games-to-none, and Salei and the rest of the Mighty Ducks ultimately fell in seven games.

Here’s video of that memorable goal:



Unlike some of the players on that team, Salei didn’t get the chance to relive the glory of the Stanley Cup Final, as he left Anaheim as a free agent for Florida following a 2005-06 campaign in which he helped the Ducks make an improbable run to the conference final. Salei scored three goals in that postseason and on the defensive end was a major reason Anaheim upset Calgary and swept Colorado that year before losing to Edmonton in five games.

Salei spent close to two seasons with the Panthers before being traded to Colorado at the trade deadline in 2008. He spent two more seasons with the Avs, and last season reunited with former Mighty Ducks coach Mike Babcock in Detroit, where he had two goals and eight assists in 75 games. After playing 917 NHL games in 14 seasons, plus 62 postseason games, he signed with Lokomotiv in July. All the while, Salei's family kept a house in Orange County, a place the Russian-born Salei felt at home after a near-decade in Anaheim.

Ducks fans’ appreciation of Salei’s time here was never more evident than the first time he came back to Anaheim (with Colorado). After a video tribute to Salei during a timeout in that game, Ducks fans gave him a standing ovation as he acknowledged them from the bench. (Some fans have built a makeshift shrine around the Duck statue outside of Honda Center this afternoon.)

More important than the key goals, rocketed slapshots (he’s still seventh in franchise history in shots on goal) or jarring body checks, Salei was remembered for something more significant – as a great teammate.

Teemu Selanne played with Salei during the 2005-06 season, as well as during Teemu’s first stint in Anaheim, from 1996 through 2001. Selanne was noticeably emotional when talking about Salei following an informal skate at The Rinks – Anaheim ICE.

“He was a really good friend of mine and we always kept in touch,” Selanne said, struggling to find the words. “We played cards together a lot and had a lot of dinners together. I was so sad to hear about this and I still can’t believe it. When I heard the team went down in a plane crash, I was hoping he was hurt or something and wasn’t on the plane. What a sad, sad story. This is a dark day for everyone. He was such a great guy, a real team guy, always chirping. The kind of guy you really want in your dressing room. He played hard and he … just an overall great guy.

Teemu said he heard the news from his wife when he woke up this morning. “She told me there was a plane down in Russia and a hockey team was on it. I was almost scared to go on the internet and see which team it was, because I knew there was going to be a lot of people I knew very well. I played with [Karlis] Skrastins and I knew [Pavol] Demitra very well. I don’t even have all the names yet, but those are the ones I heard right away. It’s so sad.”

Todd Marchant, who was a teammate of Salei’s on that 2005-06 team, also spoke about his memories of Rusty. “He was great He was the type of guy that when he came into the room, he could lighten it up with a joke or just the way he talked. His personality was infectious. He just had this way about him. He didn't back down from anybody. He was always a guy who would stand up and hold people accountable. He was in charge of the card games on the planes. He was a great teammate and certainly a great friend. It's just a tragedy that his life had to end so soon.

“My nickname on the team was ‘T-Bone’ and he used to call me ‘Ribeye.' For whatever reason, he always called me ‘Ribeye.’ We got along great. We would always go out to dinner. He always was the type of guy who wanted to be around the team and his teammates. He and I actually kept in contact periodically after he left the team when he was in Florida, Colorado and last year in Detroit. He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts go out to his family, his wife and his three children.”

Francois Beauchemin, who was a fellow blueliner with Salei in 2005-06: “He was a great guy and we had a lot of fun together. I remember plane rides after games, playing cards, having fun and hanging out. It’s so sad. I heard it this morning after I got up. You turn the computer on and it’s the first thing you see. You think of his wife and their three kids. It’s just a sad day.

"Rusty would joke around, be sarcastic. Everybody loved him and it’s a sad moment for everybody.”

I had a few interactions with Rusty that season, but the one that stands out is the time he jokingly complained that the kids in his neighborhood were always knocking on his door, yelling, "Hey, Salei!" and asking him to play street hockey with them. He, of course, always obliged, conjuring an image that always made me laugh -- a 6-foot, 220-pound NHL defenseman knocking the puck around in the street with a bunch of 10-year-olds.

Salei was just one of the many who died in the crash, the latest tragedy in what has been a dreadful summer for the game of hockey, one in which we’ve already seen the shocking deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak. Now this, the tragedy of losing an entire team to a plane crash, leaves us at a loss for words.

Said Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, "This is the darkest day in the history of our sport. This is not only a Russian tragedy, the Lokomotiv roster included players and coaches from 10 nations. This is a terrible tragedy for the global ice hockey community."

Everyone on that flight will be remembered, but for the Ducks community, the loss of a longtime favorite is overwhelming.

“He was too young to go. They all were,” Selanne said. "He was a father of three kids and … it’s just so sad.”


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POSTED ON Wednesday, 09.05.2012 / 12:01 PM
Jonas Hiller, who has sported an assortment of intriguing masks during his tenure with the Ducks, has struck again with a new one for this upcoming season. The PadsTracker website has revealed the new mask, designed again by the Switzerland-based company Airxess. Writes The Goalie Guild:

When it comes to the authentic artwork created by Switzerland’s Airxess for Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller, there’s no denying that their ideas, designs, and themes are as fresh as they come. Creating a new identity for one of the world’s finest puck-stoppers may seem like a tedious task, but when you pair him up with one of the most creative mask artists in the world, ideas flow continuously.

Since 2008, thanks to our great friendship with Airxess owner Alec Voggel, we’ve been so very fortunate to witness and promote this continuous flow of Hiller’s new ideas and identities. From the early days with his first Tornado masks, to last season’s ultra-popular “Murdered-Out” black matted and special “Movember” masks, Hiller and Airxess never fail to prove that they’re one step ahead of the goalie mask design curve.

(I don't recall the black matted one, which I happened to really like, referred to as "Murdered-Out," but we'll go with it.)

According to Voggel: “Hiller wanted to represent the Honda Center and the California surfer’s lifestyle, and on the back, his Poseidon has returned! It wasn’t on his last mask, but now it is coming out from his number-one on the backplate in a very detailed way,” Alec explained. “Of course, the black is flat for all of the fans who wanted to see Hiller wearing a flat black mask again!”

Hiller posted on his Facebook page: picked up my new Mask for 2012/13 season yesterday. Looks pretty siiiiiiiiiick!!!!!!

Here are a few looks at the new mask, and the rest can be found here.





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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
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9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
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11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

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2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 77 31 56 28 87
C. Perry 81 43 39 32 82
N. Bonino 77 22 27 14 49
M. Perreault 69 18 25 13 43
A. Cogliano 82 21 21 13 42
C. Fowler 70 6 30 15 36
K. Palmieri 71 14 17 9 31
D. Winnik 76 6 24 6 30
H. Lindholm 78 6 24 29 30
S. Koivu 65 11 18 3 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 20 5 0 .923 2.29
J. Hiller 29 13 7 .911 2.48
 

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