And in sports especially, change is frequent. Teams change players, change coaches, change strategies, change lineups. Hockey teams change line combinations, change defensive pairings, even change goalie pads.
So with that in mind, we’re making a change to what was once known as Ducks Blog, which has been on this website since the magical Ducks Stanley Cup run of 2007. We’re rebranding this space Ducks Off the Ice, and we think you’re going to like it.
Having talked to a number of Ducks fans, what they all want is a closer look inside the players’ personalities. They can see what they do on the ice; they want to know what the Ducks are like as people. They want a look “behind-the-scenes.”
And we’ll give you that through player chats, little tidbits from inside the locker room and the road, and whatever else comes to mind that gives you a closer look at the Ducks. You won’t see anything about penalty kills, defensive zone coverage or forechecks in this space. You’ll read about player likes/dislikes, what they watch and listen to, what goes on in their lives away from the rink. I’ll be more likely to ask Cam Fowler what he thinks will win the Oscar for Best Picture than what the key is to quarterbacking the power play.
For the on-ice stuff, I will continue to write stories and features elsewhere on the site, and you can still can still follow my live game logs during every home game as well as my Twitter (@adamjbrady).
So keep coming back to this space to see the latest about the Ducks away from the ice. And if you have any suggestions for good topics, fan input is always welcome. You can email me, communicate with me on Twitter or post a comment below.
I hope you’ll be as excited about this as I am.
He did this in one take, just so you know. Guy's a pro.
I tried to convince him that it did resemble him, but to no avail. He did relent a little bit and at least admit, "Well, the hair looks like me" and posed for this quick photo.
If you're interested in the bobblehead (and why wouldn't you be?) CLICK HERE and join the Die Hards today. Not to sound like salesman guy here, but the whole kit is only $45 (the bobblehead itself might be worth that).
Earlier this season, AT&T Uverse put together a show called American Hockey League, a behind-the-scenes look at the Norfolk Admirals in which they followed several of the players around for a few days.
You can see some of the more popular Ducks prospects like Emerson Etem, Kyle Palmieri, Peter Holland and Brandon McMillan, both on the ice, around their apartments and ... elsewhere. For example, one highlight is a trip to the tanning salon with Holland, Mat Clark and rookie Hampus Lindholm, in which they make the pasty Swede get in the booth and convince the girl to turn it to a very dark shade.
"This," an eight-year-old kid said, "Was the best day ever."
Frankly, I couldn't have agreed more.
Considering what hockey fans have endured the past few months, and bearing in mind how quickly things had to come together after the final seal of approval on the CBA late yesterday, the fact that we had more than 2,500 people watching the first day of practice this afternoon was nothing short of inspiring.
The schedules for all 30 NHL teams were officially revealed today, and as expected it's a 48-game slate that unfurls on January 19 and features only opponents within the conference.
Also as expected, the Ducks will open on the road, facing Vancouver a week from today (A FREAKIN' WEEK FROM TODAY!) and then Calgary two nights later. They open at home against those same Canucks on January 25 and then face one-time playoff rival Nashville back at Honda Center the very next night. The regular season ends a few weeks later than normal -- April 27 at home against Phoenix (let's hope the actual Ducks season lasts a whole lot longer). And in between, is a pretty wild ride.
Because it's a compact schedule (48 games in 99 days), there are definitely some quirks, including two instances in which the Ducks play the same team three games in a row (somewhat like a mini playoff series). The Ducks play at Phoenix on March 2, at Phoenix two days later (Angels spring training and Ducks hockey anyone?) and then home against Phoenix another two days after that. Anaheim is at Dallas April 1, home to Dallas on April 3 and home again to the Stars on the 5th.
And if you like your Ducks-Red Wings games, you're going to love the weekend of March 22, when Anaheim faces Detroit that Friday and again on Sunday. That's part of a home stretch in which the Ducks play Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday and Monday at Honda Center (yikes).
More scheduling quirks: Within the Pacific Division, the Ducks will play San Jose and Dallas five times each, but the Kings and Phoenix four times each. The always highly anticipated Kings games (even more so this year) come February 2 at Honda Center, Feb. 25 in LA, April 7 at home and April 13 at Staples Center.
Of the 24 home dates, 13 will take place on weekends (six Fridays, three Saturdays and four Sundays). The Ducks face in 10 back-to-back sets of games and take a season-long six-game road trip from Feb. 6-16 that includes stops in Colorado (Feb. 6), Dallas (Feb. 8), St. Louis (Feb. 9), Chicago (Feb. 12), Detroit (Feb. 15) and Nashville (Feb. 16).
Ducks training camp is opening tomorrow at Honda Center, and keep checking AnaheimDucks.com for details on the public attending (and more).
Now, some business:
Individual regular season tickets for all Ducks games at Honda Center will go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. As a special promotion for Opening Night vs. Vancouver on Jan. 25, fans that purchase an individual game ticket will receive a voucher good for 50% off a future game on the 2012-13 schedule at Honda Center (excludes Terrace Value price point).
|How good is it to see this guy again?
The start of training camp is still a few days away, but as they have been doing for the last several months, Ducks players skated informally together to prep for the eventual start of the season. With the Collective Bargaining Agreement having been ratified by the Board of Governors yesterday, they were able to do it at Honda Center for the first time since last spring. And while no hockey player looks forward to practice, they all seemed thrilled to be out there.
"It’s nice to be back," said Corey Perry, looking already in mid-season shape. "It was an extended summer, that’s for sure. Everyone is excited to get back and get going again."
"It feels like old times again," said Ryan Getzlaf. "It’s definitely nice to be back here and it’s an exciting time for us. Being away from here sucks."
Getzlaf looked at the extended time off a couple of ways. Yes, it kept him away from the game, but it did allow him to spend a lot more time with his now two-year-old son and another baby boy born to him and wife Paige a couple of weeks ago.
"It was nice to be around for that," he said, "but I’m ready to get back to work."
Teemu Selanne had a similar sentiment: "There are kind of mixed feelings because I really enjoyed the time off. But the same hand, after awhile, it got old."
(Ah, how I've missed "same hand" for the past few months.)
"You're a hockey player and you want to play hockey," he continued. "You start missing the game more and more. The only way to handle it is to stay positive and optimistic and make sure when things start you’re ready. It was hard for everybody, but I’m so happy it’s over."
Selanne was inevitably asked if he's approaching this season any differently than the last several. "It's my last season, right?" he laughed. "Of course it is. Like always."
Selanne, who turned 42 last July, certainly can't complain about a 48-game season, but he says it changes the approach for all of the guys.
"Every game is going to be like playoff hockey, and every point is going to be critical to making the playoffs," he said. "If you look in the past years, how exciting it is in the last few games of the season, it’s that same challenge again. There is no room for error. The schedule doesn’t let you get down for too many games in a row. You can’t afford to do that.
"At the same time, a one-week training camp? I really like that."
That camp will likely start Sunday, with the Ducks playing their first game on the road on the 19th, though nothing is official as of yet (soon though). Part of what we do know is that every game is intra-conference, meaning the Ducks only face the West this season. Either way, no team has long to get ready for game time.
"Everyone is going to have that breaking-in period, because there is nothing that can compare to playing an actual game," Getzlaf said. "We’re going to do our best to be as ready as we can for that first game, and we’re looking forward to it.
"We’ve been skating and everything for four or five months, but this is probably the longest that anyone’s gone without playing a game in a long time. That part will be an adjustment. It’s an exciting time for us. We’ve got a few new bodies and we’ve got some things we’re going to have to work through, but everybody looks good out there."
Perry was optimistic as well about the group, which includes mainstays like him, Getzlaf, Selanne, Bobby Ryan and Jonas Hiller, along with newcomers like Sheldon Souray, Bryan Allen, Brad Staubitz and goalie Viktor Fasth. All of them were out there skating today.
"Everybody is really going to come together this year," Perry said. "It’s a good group of guys in here, a lot of different personalities that will really mesh well. There are some new faces with the old faces, but it’s going to be nice."
After all this time, Perry said that even the car ride to Honda Center was enjoyable.
"Driving up here, getting back into the routine and skating with the guys, it reminds you of what you miss," he said, "and why you play this game."
If you're like me, you opened your eyes, rolled over to pick up your smartphone and saw some form of this news: The NHL and the Players Association have tentatively agreed on a deal to end the lockout. We can't comment too much until a deal is ratified, and we won't go into the details of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but it's enough to say this:
HOCKEY. IS. BACK.
(Incidentally, if you're a hockey fan, it paid to be a "morning person" this past weekend. You would have had to wake up at 5 a.m. Saturday on the West Coast to see Team USA -- led by goaltending Ducks prospect John Gibson -- beat Sweden for the gold medal in the World Juniors in Russia.)
As far as the NHL season commencing, nothing is set in stone yet, but here is what we do know:
- The season will start as either a 50-game schedule on January 15 or a 48-game schedule on January 19. It should be known that the Ducks won't open at home on the 19th because of a show at Honda Center that goes through the 20th.
- The Ducks schedule, in addition to the schedules of the 29 other teams, is being mapped out as we speak and will be released later this week. Soon after it's released, tickets will go on sale for individual games, mini plans, etc. Any questions can be answered by calling 877-WILD WING.
- We will also soon know more on when training camp will open. Keep an eye on this website and our social media outlets for any breaking news on that front.
Bottom line, we're all happy to have Ducks hockey back, especially judging by this smattering of fan responses on social media to the news.
Defending champion Team Sweden, which earned a berth into the final with a 3-2 shootout win over Russia today, has a forward corps that includes right wing Rickard Rakell (taken by the Ducks 30th overall in '11) and center William Karlsson (53rd). Rakell leads Sweden and ranks tied for fifth in the tournament with five assists, while Karlsson has two helpers in five games. Defenseman Hampus Lindholm, taken in the first round by the Ducks in 2012 and playing well at Norfolk this year, has missed the tournament with an injury.
But one of the biggest stars of the tournament is Team USA goalie John Gibson, who (39th overall pick in '11), who helped the Americans to the gold medal game with 33 saves in a 5-1 win over Canada in today's semis. Gibson leads the tournament in goals-against average and save percentage, and is tied for first in wins (4-2, 1.42 GAA & .954 SV%). Here's a highlight package of his handiwork in the tournament.
If you don't already know about Gibson, he's a big boy (6-3, 212 pounds) who has shined the last couple of seasons with Kitchener of the OHL. He put in some time at Ducks training camp last year, and Ducks fans last saw him at last summer's conditioning camp (here's an interview he did during that camp).
He also happens to wear No. 35, which you might recall was a pretty lucky number in the Ducks net for several years.
For now, Gibson is all about getting the U.S. its second gold medal in the last four years (also 2010) after he and the Americans settled for bronze last year. If you're interested in the gold medal game, set the alarm and get the coffee ready. It will be aired at 5 a.m. PT on NHL Network and TSN and streamed on NHL.com.
Hopefully we'll see more of the below regarding Gibson. Here are some of the tweets from reporters, bloggers and others praising his performance in this year's tournament: