|Palmieri is favored by most Ducks to grow the best one. Says Lovejoy, “Palmieri is a fairly hairy dude, so I think he would grow a very grizzly beard.”|
It is a Stanley Cup tradition almost as engrained as the Cup itself. The longer and thicker it gets, the better you’re doing. And there is a certain point of pride in growing one to the point of unruliness and maximum scruffiness.
It’s the playoff beard, a long-held tradition in which players grow their facial hair at the start of the postseason and refuse to shave until their team is either eliminated or they are lifting the Cup over their heads.
The custom is believed to have started with the great New York Islanders teams of the 1980s, which must have been doing something right, since they won four straight Cups. Some say it goes back to the elite Montreal teams of the late ‘70s. Either way, it has spread well beyond the NHL – to minor, junior and European leagues and, in the case of the Ducks, even to many of the male team employees.
The frequent itchiness and grumblings of wives and girlfriends is a small price to pay for such a sacred custom. Among the legendary Ducks, Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer each had bodacious beards by the time they captured the Cup with a Game 5 victory over Ottawa in the Stanley Cup Final. Goalie J.S. Giguere did not grow one that year, but had a strikingly thick one by the time he was handed the Conn Smyth Trophy in a seven-game defeat to New Jersey in the 2003 Final.
For most of the current Ducks, growing playoff beards is on the agenda, with high hopes that they will be forced to keep it for a very long time. Although, some players have greater expectations for their whiskers than others.
I actually have a pretty manly playoff beard, even though I do not enjoy having facial hair. It itches, and I get made fun of around here because I’m a bit of a germaphobe. I like keeping clean and nicely shaven. But I do it because it’s an important tradition. It’s the profession I’ve chosen, and I’ve been lucky enough to go on some long playoff runs and grow it out because of it. You tough it out because it’s that sort of bunker mentality. Everyone grows one, and I look forward to having a beard for over eight weeks coming up.
|Niedermayer’s salt-and-pepper look during the ’07 Stanley Cup Final is unquestionably the greatest playoff beard in Ducks history.|
I’ve got a little something going, not too much. When it grows, it comes in pretty thick. It’s nothing special, nothing really to brag about. I usually grow it out, but I’ve got to start like a month and a half before. It takes quite a bit of time. Once it gets going, it’s greasy and nasty.
I’m pretty excited about it. I had a little one going last year when we were in Syracuse [of the AHL], but it was only for a week or two. I’m really looking forward to it this year. It comes in very fast for me. It gets thick, but it doesn’t really grow that long. I don’t think I’ve gone past two weeks or so, because it can look pretty bad.
I’ve done it in the past and I’m going to do it again. I don’t trim it. I just let it get wild. Pretty soon my face will turn a shade of red from the hair color.
It’s part of the tradition and I don’t trim it at all. It gets pretty good.
I’ve been trying every time, but my growth isn’t strong. It’s tough to tell. Trust me, I don’t have to touch it. It’s barely there.
I’ve been working on once since Christmas, but as you can see, it’s not really successful so I’ll probably have to skip that. To be honest, there’s not a whole lot growing. Secondly, I don’t really like it under the mask. It starts to get really itchy, and I never really got into it. I tried a couple times, but it [felt] more annoying than having it help me.
Yeah, I’ll be growing one. It won’t be much, so I’m not going to trim it or clean it up.
|Giguere had a substantial beard by the time he accepted the Conn Smythe trophy following Game 7 of the ’03 Final.|
“Palms” [Kyle Palmieri] would be top 3 on the team for sure, since he’s so hairy anyway. I bet Bobby can grow a pretty good one. We have a pretty clean-cut team for the most part. The worst would probably be Viktor [Fasth]. Probably the nastiest and grossest is Sami [Vatanen].
Palmieri is a fairly hairy dude, so I think he would grow a very grizzly beard. As for the others, some of these European guys might struggle. Viktor [Fasth] seems into his appearance, and I look forward to seeing him and Jonas try and grow nice beards.
Palmieri, definitely. Daniel Winnik is pretty hairy, and I think Ben Lovejoy can grow a pretty strong playoff beard too. The worst? Cam Fowler and Corey Perry, hands down.
I’d say I’m in the running for the best, but there will be a couple guys who can definitely grow a nice one. Bobby already has a good one at times. I’ve seen pictures of “T” [Teemu Selanne] from ’07. I expect him to have a good one.
|Selanne had a nice growth going in the '07 playoffs, but Beauchemin is not impressed.|
Palmieri is good, Beauch [Francois Beauchemin] might be good. Maybe Sheldon [Souray]. Bryan Allen might be a sneaky strong playoff beard guy. The worst would be me, maybe Viktor. I don’t think Hillsy [Hiller] has a good one.”
Palmieri would have the best, probably. Bobby Ryan’s looking pretty good right now. Shelly [Souray], the new addition, I don’t know how he’s looking. Daniel Winnik could be a good one too. It’s definitely interesting. Corey Perry would be the worst. It’s out there. I don’t want to throw myself under the bus, but it’s Corey Perry.
“Palms.” I mean, just look at his face. The worst would probably be me or Toni Lydman.
Shelly, Palmieri, Bobby. I don’t know about Daniel Winnik’s beard. For the worst? I’d go with Teemu. He’s got that weird jawline beard thing going on.”
After a practice a couple weeks ago, the 20-year-old Etem and 22-year-old Holland gave very tongue-in-cheek accounts of what living together is like. Both came across as refreshingly sarcastic and funny when talking about each other. (An example: Etem not laughing and barely smiling when he calls Holland "selfish" and Holland doing the same when he says, "You've got to babysit him a little bit."
And away we go:
What do you like about living with your roommate?
Holland: The list of what I don’t like is a lot longer. No, “Emer” is a lot of fun and we have a lot of fun together. He’s someone to go out with for bites to eat and we hit the beach a little bit. He’s from close by [Long Beach], so I’ve had a chance to meet his parents and see where he grew up, which was kind of cool.
Etem: He’s a funny guy. He can get on my nerves a little bit sometimes, but he’s a good guy. We have our inside jokes and we have quite the chemistry. We like the same things, and we’re always doing things together. It works out pretty well.
What don’t you like about your roommate?
Holland: He’s left me behind twice at the rink so far this year. We’ve been driving together for a long time up here in Anaheim and somehow he’s managed to forget me. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I’ve managed to straighten him out.
Etem: He’s pretty selfish. I have my car here, so if he needs a ride it’s always on me. The other day he had a test for a college course he’s taking, and I had to drive him 20 minutes out of my way. He said, “You can stay here and wait for me while I do my test or you can leave.” So I just took off back to the hotel, and he tried to make me feel bad about it. The fact that he made me do that on our off day was quite selfish.
Holland: He likes to be a little bit late in the mornings, which is getting a little old – especially because he’s the driver and I have to wait for him. He’s a young guy, still maturing, so you’ve got to babysit him a little bit.
Etem: My buddies come to a lot of the games, and we want to get a bite to eat after the game. I’m the type where if I’m ready to go, I just go. If my buddies and I are talking about it, I tend to forget about Peter and go with my buddies [laughs].
Who controls the remote on the road?
Holland: There is a lot of pressure to have the remote. Someone is always not happy. But we’re pretty good about sharing it.
Etem: Going back to being selfish, we check into the hotel, we lie down, he grabs his computer and tosses the remote back to me. He expects me to do all the controlling when I just want to sit back and relax. Someone’s got to do it, but the fact that it’s me every time gets kind of frustrating.
What do you typically watch together?
Holland: Traditionally we try and see what kind of movies are on TV and we’ll try to come to an agreement on one. We get along pretty well on that.
Etem: Usually I just throw it on SportsCenter. I’m that basic guy. At the end of a long day of travel or practice or whatever, when you get to the hotel you just want to keep it simple, and sports is usually the way to go.
What is the situation like at the hotel at home?
Holland: He’s on the VIP floor at the hotel, but he has to insert a key to get to that floor. When he does that, I like to hit all the other buttons to make him stop at every floor on the way up, just to let him know he’s not that special. I don’t know why he’s on that floor and I’m not. He got a king-sized bed and I’ve got two doubles, but I have more room for activities in my room, so it’s kind of nice. [Note: In case you don't know, this line is a very subtle reference to the movie "Stepbrothers" but I can't post a YouTube link because of some language in the clip.]
Etem: I think the VIP floor has its perks, but it has its disadvantages. Me being the wiser one, they put me up there in case I need to come down and check on him. You need a room key to get up there, and I don’t think they want him bothering me too much.
How do you think he could describe you as a roommate?
Holland: If he didn’t tell you I was a great roommate and a great friend, he’d be lying.
Etem: He would probably talk bad about me, but I know what he’s all about. He’s kind of fake and puts up that fake vibe [laughs]. I’ll just let that one go and maybe have a talk with him later.
|“I’m a chronic handwasher. I don’t like shaking hands, I just don’t like touching things. People give me a hard time for not being a dog lover or an animal person. It’s not that I don’t like them, I just don’t enjoy touching them.”|
It’s not just that Lovejoy has been playing admirable defense for the Ducks since they picked him up in a trade for a fifth round pick on February 6. (Bruce Boudreau recently called him, "Everything and more than we've asked.) And it’s not only that he frequently delivers hits that reflect neither Love nor Joy.
Talk to him away from the rink, and he’s a very easy guy to like. The 29-year-old from Concord, New Hampshire has a unhurried, methodical way of speaking that is packed with intelligence and flashes of humor – almost like he’s thinking of the perfect way to deliver a sentence as he’s uttering it. (It should be noted, by the way, he spent four years at Dartmouth.)
For example, here is him earlier this year on why he earned the nickname Rev, after Reverand Lovejoy from “The Simpsons” (which is reflected in his Twitter avatar): “When I first became a pro hockey player, people started calling me Rev. I watched the show growing up, so I knew it well. All the guys in Pittsburgh called me Rev pretty regularly.
"We were in Canada one day watching Sportscentre. I made a play and the announcer called me ‘The Reverend!’ The next day Mike Rupp, who was then my teammate in Pittsburgh, came in and couldn’t believe the announcer knew my nickname. Rupp wasn’t a ‘Simpsons’ fan, so he didn’t know. It has very little to do with my religious affiliation. It’s an uncommon name and that character has made it famous, so I’ve embraced that.”
Today I was talking to Lovejoy about a feature we’re developing on playoff beards, and he good-naturedly admitted that he’s a longtime germaphobe.
“I’m a chronic handwasher,” he said. “I don’t like shaking hands, I just don’t like touching things. People give me a hard time for not being a dog lover or an animal person. It’s not that I don’t like them, I just don’t enjoy touching them.”
I asked him if he shakes hands or goes with the Howie Mandel fist bump.
“I will tough it out,” he said, “and then pull out some hand sanitizer when I have to. I carry it with me all the time.”
I asked how long it’s been the case. “It’s been awhile,” he said. “My teammates here have recently discovered it. I get a hard time, but I think they understand.”
That being said, he has high hopes for the playoff beard, and he couldn’t have put it any better: “I actually have a pretty manly playoff beard, even though I do not enjoy having facial hair. It itches, and usually like keeping clean and nicely shaven.
“But I do it because it’s an important tradition. It’s the profession I’ve chosen, and you tough it out because it’s that sort of bunker mentality. Everyone grows one, and I look forward to having a beard for over eight weeks starting in May.”
(Ducks Publications and New Media Associate Kyle Shohara contributed to this piece.)
When I was 15, I started working with a construction company carrying bricks and helping all the guys there. I lasted just one summer. It was hard work, but it’s a great workout and I treated it that way. I didn’t need any workouts after that.
I had to clean engine parts for semi-trucks. My hands were in Varsol (solvent) all day scrubbing oil, sludge and filth off of old engine parts. I was 15. I didn’t last that long. Maybe a couple weeks, until I burned the first couple layers of skin off my hands from being in those chemicals all day.
It was delivering the Le Journal de Montreal back home. I was 12 years old, and I had to go every morning delivering 120 newspapers. It was around 4:30 to 5 in the morning before I went to school. It was all year long. They only didn’t deliver newspapers on four days -- the 25th and 26th of December and January 1st and 2nd. I loved it. It gave me money to buy some stuff.
When I was 14, I was a skate guard at a rink in Westminster during open-ice skates. I handed out rental skates to people, and I had to make sure when people fell they were okay. My mom worked at the rink too, so that’s how I got that job. I got free ice time, so that was cool.
When I was in Grade 9 or 10 I was a mover. I moved furniture for two summers in Barrie (Ontario) for the Rockbrune Moving Company. It was crazy hours. You’re there at 7 until you’re done, but it was good money then. Those summer days it got a little hot, but it was good.
The only thing I really did was work at hockey schools in Brampton (Southern Ontario) when I was 12 or 13. I worked with a guy named Joey Simon that I actually still work with. He ran March break camps and stuff like that, so I’d go out there and help him out. I’d help him push pucks around and help teach little kids what I knew at the time. It’s something I knew how to do, so it was fun.
When I was 16 I worked in a plant in Wisconsin in the shipping and handling department, so I drove forklifts.
One summer when I was 17 I was basically shoveling dirt. That was tough. I quit the job after two weeks because it was getting too hard with hockey practices. I got too tired and had no energy. My friend was telling me “You’re not getting any money then,” so I convinced him to work there too. He lasted two weeks.
I worked at a hockey pro shop shooting on goalies in New Jersey. I was probably 12 or 13. It was only for the summer, in the offseason. One of my coaches was a goalie coach and I basically went in and shot on goalies. I basically got paid to shoot pucks, so it was pretty fun.
When I was 15 or 16 I worked at a summer restaurant. I cooked French fries and fried fish in a Frialator machine. I would leave super greasy after an eight-hour shift. The restaurant was called The Baited Hook.
I was moving a library that was changing locations, all the books. I had to place all the books in the right order in boxes. I was probably 13 or 14. It was paid but not much. I didn’t enjoy it, but it was only a four-week job. It was during the summer between schools. It was good to get some money.
I was a newspaper delivery boy when I was around 11 years old. It was called the Beachcomber. I would strap on my roller skates and get around 500 papers. My dad would come home early from work and help me roll them. If he didn’t, then I’d have 500 papers to roll by myself. Then I’d go out. It would probably take me from 5- to 9 p.m. It was quite a shift. I probably did this for three or four months. It was every two weeks and it wasn’t too bad, but it was a battle. I enjoyed it because I was getting paid at that young of an age. The little that was coming in I was happy about.
Beauchemin leads all Ducks defensemen in points this season with 22 in 41 games, and he trails only teammate Sheldon Souray for the league lead in plus-minus at +23 (matching his Jordanesque uniform number). But the numbers hardly do justice to Beauchemin’s game, as he routinely is sent over the boards to shut down the opponent’s top forward line. He's blocking shots, delivering bone-jarring hits, eating up minutes on the penalty kill and occasionally delivering a missile of a slap shot from the blue line.
So naturally, that type of play is an open invitation to put Beauchemin through a round of our Ducks Off the Ice pop culture and personality questions. After a 40-minute practice today, the Ducks had their last team signing of the year, which also means free lunch for the players. Beauchemin sat down alone with a club sandwich at a table set up on the Honda Center concourse, a perfect time to pepper him with a few hard-hitting ones:
Q: If you could meet any celebrity, who would it be?
Beauchemin: Oh, that’s a tough one. [Long pause] Wow. Like an actor?
Anyone. Could be an athlete.
[Longer pause. I check the recorder to make sure it’s running] You gonna run out of batteries there?
No, it’s fine.
I would say Tiger Woods.
Who is your celebrity crush?
[No pause this time.] Kate Beckinsale.
What music do you love?
AC/DC. I've always been a fan.
What music do you hate?
My son (six-year-old Samuel) loves Justin Bieber, and I think he’s a little annoying. He also listens a lot to Gangnam Style, which I don’t like but I’m getting over it.
What TV shows do you watch religiously?
The Voice. I love that show. Grey’s Anatomy. Those are the two my wife and I watch regularly.
What movie have you seen the most?
Probably Any Given Sunday and Men of Honor with Robert Deniro and Cuba Gooding Jr.
You can eat, by the way.
[Opens sandwich but hesitates to start on it.]
What’s your favorite thing to eat?
A good steak. Love steak.
What’s a food you refuse to eat?
I used to hate tomatoes, but I don’t know if it’s my age or anything, but lately I’m eating them a little bit more. I don’t say no to too much. I like pretty much everything.
[Getzlaf walks by, heading to the food table and asks, “What’d you go with, Beau?”
“The club, but I can’t tell you if it’s good yet.”]
What gameday superstitions do you have?
It’s more of a routine than a superstition. I get up, drop my kids at school, get a coffee and some breakfast, come here for the skate. Then we go eat at the same place all the time. I usually nap from 2 to 4, then I’ll stop at Starbucks again on the way to the arena. I used to drink green tea before every game, but I’ve switched to coffee.
Do you have any phobias?
Heights. Any time I’m on top of steps or an elevator and I can see down, that worries me. Flying is okay because I don’t really look down.
Teemu is a bad flyer.
Yeah, I’m not that bad.
What athlete would you trade places with?
[Getzlaf sits down at the table and Beauchemin nods toward him.] I’d trade cars with him.
How about non-teammate?
[He thinks for awhile before Perry sits down and offers Tony Stewart, the race car driver.] Beauchemin: Yes! Tony Stewart. Thanks, Pears. I don’t know if you’d call him an athlete, but he would be a good one.
Who is the funniest guy on the team?
[Getzlaf: Sbisa is the funniest looking.] I think Cogs is pretty funny. He jokes around a lot. [Getzlaf: In a weird way though.] Yeah, in a weird way.
Who is the best-dressed guy on the team?
Shelly [Sheldon Souray] is trying. He’s into the fashion. I wouldn’t say he’s the best-dressed, but he’s the most fashionable. He comes out with stuff that nobody else would wear.
He’s got a few tattoos. Do you have any?
No. It’s never been my thing.
You’re French-Canadian. Give me something that sounds better in French than English.
[Getzlaf: Nothing.] Hey, hey … There are certain things, but I don’t think I can say any of them.
What do you like about your roommate?
Kyle Palmieri: We’ve been good friends since our first year at the [USA Hockey National Team Development Program], so it’s been five or six years now. I wouldn’t say we grew up together, but when you think about it, over the past five or six years spending that much time with one guy as a common denominator is pretty awesome. We’re lucky enough to room together. I think we get along really well. I know we have fun together.
Cam Fowler: He’s fun and he’s a good guy. We know each other well from the national team so we have some familiarity there and he’s always keeping me on my toes. He’s very quick-witted. He’ll give it to you but he’s able to take it. He’s always joking around sarcastically but he’s fun to be around.
Do you have any complaints?
Palmieri: The only thing is, one of us needs to establish control of the remote. That’s the one thing. Neither of us likes controlling it, having that kind of pressure. So we usually do a little scoring competition during pregame skates or practices on the road. The loser has to take control of it for the next little bit. Neither of us really wants it. We watch all the same shows but there’s a lot of pressure to put on the right one.
Fowler: He doesn’t like to control the remote so we battle with that a lot. We started that [scoring competition] now because it ends up someone just throws the remote at the other person and you just deal with it, so we’re trying to fix that.
What do you two usually watch together?
Palmieri: We watch a lot of Seinfeld or if there are any good movies on we’ll throw those on. Just whatever is on, really. Doesn’t matter to us.
Fowler: We like movies. We watch Seinfeld and Big Bang Theory, stuff like that.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve learned about your roommate?
Palmieri: The weirdest thing is him setting a second alarm but still getting up on the first one. And then he just lets the second one go while he’s in the shower. It’s frustrating, to say the least.
Fowler: He’s just getting hairier day by day. [Editor's note: This appears to be true.]
Who takes more time getting ready?
Fowler: I think we’re pretty much the same there.
Palmieri: It’s pretty equal. We both take a pretty long time, but nothing ridiculous. Nothing like Nick Bonino. He’s the worst. There’s not much hair to move around, but he takes his time on each piece.
What do you think your roommate would say about rooming with you?
Palmieri: I’d say he’d have the same complaints like no one takes control of the remote. And I think some of my sarcasm kind of wears on him a little bit. I’d say those are his two biggest complaints.
Fowler: He would say I’m a great guy to have and he’s lucky to have me.
Side note: My favorite part of gathering this information was when I talked to Francois Beauchemin about his big dog, Buster. I mentioned to him that Bobby Ryan had two cats. “Two cats??” he said with a laugh. “How aggressive.”
Here's a rundown:
Dog’s name: Mia Bear
She was adopted in Newport Beach four years ago, and Ryan and his wife Paige like to take her to a dog beach in Huntington.
Dog’s name: Max
The dog is originally from Ontario, Canada and belonged to Corey’s girlfriend Blakeny, but Corey “adopted him” two years ago.
Dog’s name: Buster
Beauchemin and his family got Buster in February 2010 in Toronto, "a couple weeks before I got traded back here, actually. My agreement with my wife was that I was supposed to take care of him. I ended up leaving a week after, so my wife had to take care of the puppy and the two kids! I flew him out here before my family,and The Marchants took care of him too."
Dog’s name: Karl
Karl will be 2 years old next month. Beleskey adopted him from Fashion Island in Newport Beach, “so he’s a California kid.”
Dog’s name: Tank
Tank is going to be 10 years old this year and was adopted in Kingston, Ontario. He was brought from Florida (where Allen played previously) to Orange County via a service that drives pets to new homes. Allen’s wife Lexie says that Bryan likes to “share his food with him.”
Cats’ names: Prince and Pelle.
Prince and Pelle are 3-year-old brothers that were adopted in Newport Beach as a Valentine’s Day gift in 2010. Click here for some compelling video of Bobby and his cats.
Dog’s name: Kali
Nick has had Kali for just a month, adopted from Russo’s in Fashion Island.
Dog’s name: Mabel
Mabel is just over a year and a half and was adopted in Staubitz’s hometown of Sarnia, Southern Ontario, “so she’s a little Canadian pup. We had to drive her down here when I signed here because she was only six months old."
The commercial has a fantasy feel to it, starting off with a little boy shooting pucks in the snow while wearing a Selanne Winnipeg Jets sweater. That's followed by the boy watching Teemu on TV (this time in a Ducks road jersey) backhand a puck into an empty net as the kid mimics his shooting motion. Eventually the boy encounters the real Selanne at night, as they skate around the neighborhood streets that magically turn to ice in front of them.
Somewhere in there, they drink some milk and ... oh heck, just watch it:
As an added bonus, there is this "Making of" video, in which we learn the whole thing was shot at Universal Studios (Selanne mentions a 12-hour first day of shooting) and the director says of Teemu, " He is doing a very good job acting at the moment."
One highlight is during the off-camera shots, where we see Teemu wearing one of our all-time favorites of his -- the "Baywatch" lifeguard jacket. Take a look:
|Selanne at last Sunday's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Speedway. (Clearly the sunglasses aren't helping with the glare.)|
The four players got the VIP treatment (as you'll see below), and even though he's a huge racing fan, it was the first NASCAR race Selanne had ever attended. (This would be as good a time as any to point out that according to this 2011 OC Register article, in his Winnipeg days Teemu used to race cars in the offseason under a pseudonym that translated in English to "Teddy Flash" so that the Jets wouldn't find out.)
It all got me thinking: We know Selanne can play a little hockey and has been known to be a pretty decent golfer, but what other sports is he into? What does he watch? What did he play growing up?
After today's practice at Honda Center, I asked if he had a few minutes to talk. And even though he initially said, "About what?" instead of his traditional "No problem" we ultimately sat down and talked some sports.
How was the NASCAR race?
It was awesome. We got the royal treatment. We got to go into the pits, see the pits stops and all the garages and the drivers’ meetings. It was a special day. Obviously I have been to a lot of Formula 1 races and Indy races, but not Nascar. It was interesting to see what the most popular sport in North America is all about.
Do you follow NASCAR at all?
Not at all. I watch some highlights, but I don’t follow it as a fan.
So where were you during the race?
We started out in the pits and watched the start and the first 25 laps or so. Then we went to a suite, where we could see the whole track.
|A slightly younger Selanne behind the wheel in Finland.
Besides Formula 1 and rally cars, I watch a lot of soccer, a lot of golf. It’s funny, but as long as I’ve lived here, I love to watch baseball and football playoffs, but regular season I don’t pay attention much at all. But playoffs, it doesn’t matter what sport you’re watching, it’s interesting.
What’s baseball like in Finland?
We have Finnish baseball, called Pesäpallo, and it’s a little different. The bases are in a different order. We have home runs, but when you hit it, it has to land in a certain area where lines are. (NOTE: The game seems incredibly complicated, as you'll see here.) It doesn’t matter how far you hit it, you just have to have the right pace and aim. The other team’s pitcher has to land the ball on a plate. It’s a fun game. It’s fast-paced. I played it a little bit in school. It’s funny, as big as hockey is in Finland, Pesäpallo is actually our national game.
That’s kind of like out here, baseball is considered the national pastime, but football is way bigger.
Yeah, same thing in Finland with hockey.
Do you watch much football?
Not a lot, but I definitely watch the Super Bowl. This year I had a few families over for it. I don’t really root for anyone. I just hope for a good game.
|Teemu on the links.
I played a lot of soccer, ice bandy – which is like field hockey with ice skates – and then track and field. I played a lot of tennis, not in competition, but in the summertime I played almost every day. Especially when I was younger, I didn’t like running or doing the weights to stay in shape. I just played tennis and squash and soccer.
It wasn't all about hockey year round?
Oh no. When the hockey season was over, the gear went into the garage and all the same guys played soccer. When I was 16, I played ice bandy, soccer and hockey on the Finnish junior national teams. I tried to play all the sports as long as I could, but now that’s almost impossible. If you want to play at a high level, you need to make a decision and concentrate on one sport. So I went with hockey.
|“It was an unbelievable experience,” said Fowler. “Just to be a part of this for a day, to see the way they do things here, was a lot of fun for us.”|
Cam Fowler, Nick Bonino and Viktor Fasth – along with Ducks coaches – made the 20-minute trek from their hotel in Glendale (where they played the Coyotes last night and will again Monday night) to Angels spring training camp in Tempe. They spent the morning with the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium as the team got ready for an afternoon game with the visiting Chicago Cubs.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” said Fowler, who grew up a Tigers fan back home in Michigan and played second base for Pioneer High School. “Just to be a part of this for a day, to see the way they do things here, was a lot of fun for us.”
The day started with the Ducks sitting in on the Angels’ morning meeting, a session that took on a lighter air thanks to manager Mike Scioscia. While giving the visitors an idea of the preparation the team goes through each day, he targeted the Ducks players (as well as some of his own) for a number of jokes and jabs.
“Just to see how other sports and managers and coaches handle their group was a great experience for me,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “I found it not only entertaining, but enlightening. You come and see the complex and how organized everything is, everybody in different areas and knowing where they’re supposed to go, it’s pretty impressive. And the talent here is incredible too.”
|Fowler took on Bonino in a hitting contest judged by Scioscia and Fasth, with Fowler taking the victory in a close race.|
The three Ducks were challenged to show their baseball talent after the meeting. They were suited up in Angels gear – t-shirts, shorts and caps – and given a bat to take over to one of the facility’s auxiliary fields. They first spent a few minutes hitting tossed balls into the back of the batting cage, with Fasth clearly the least experienced of the three. The 30-year-old goaltender had never even attended a baseball game while growing up in his native Sweden, let along swung a bat. “We don’t have a lot of baseball over there,” Fasth said. “But this is fun. I’m just trying to do what I can.”
Later Fowler took on Bonino in a hitting contest, with several Angels prospects looking on and rooting as the two Ducks took turns in several rounds of five-pitch sessions. Scioscia and Fasth (whom Scioscia continually called “Swede”) served as judges for the competition, giving points for hard-hit balls, with Fowler winning by a slight edge.
“I was just trying to stay in there and stick to my own game,” said Fowler, who couldn’t wipe the smile off his face the entire afternoon. “’Bones’ came up with some clutch hits that kept him in it, but I was able to win it in the end.”
|Some fans think Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos and Cam Fowler look alike. You be the judge.
Fowler’s prize? Buying lunch for the 70 players and coaches in camp “That’s what the winner gets, I guess,” Fowler said. “Maybe they’ll send me a bill. ‘Bones’ lucked out, I guess.”
The trio was then taken over to a bullpen area, where they each stood in at the plate as perennial All-Star Jered Weaver hurled 90-mile-per-hour fastballs by them. “We just stood in front of him to see what it looks like,” Fowler said. “Nobody even dared try to hit it. That would make us look stupid.”
They watched actual Angels batting practice on the Tempe Diablo field, then headed back to the clubhouses and getting more well-wishes from the Angels before heading out for the day.
“This was pretty cool,” said Bonino, who tried to keep it quiet that he grew up a Red Sox fan. “Cam and I already said we’re wearing this back to the hotel lobby, gear and all. It’s really cool for them to bring us in and let them know what it’s like to be in their shoes a little bit. It’s really fun.”
Added Fowler, "It was just cool seeing everybody and for them to allow us to come in there and see what it’s like for them. It’s always great for a professional athlete to see how the guys in another sport carry themselves day in and day out. We’re very thankful that they let us in and have some fun with them.”