|“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.”
So following an arduous Ducks practice yesterday afternoon, after he had spent 20 minutes with reporters talking [of course] Ducks hockey, I chatted with Bruce for a conversation about the other topic near to his heart.
First off, are you even going to be able to see the Oscars? We have a game that night.
Yeah, my wife is a little upset because we have the game and we’re bussing to LA afterward. She loves watching the Oscars, as do I, but for different reasons. She wants to see what everybody’s wearing. I just want to see who wins. I want to see if my movie won, because you’re right in there whether it’s your favorite movie or actor or actress, you want to see them win.
Years ago, I used to like to see which song won, but I don’t pay much attention to that anymore. And I always remember, it was probably 1977 or something, Neil Diamond came out with Barbra Streisand and sang, “You Don’t Send Me Flowers” and the crowd went nuts. I thought that was pretty cool.
Let’s talk about this year’s Best Picture nominees, starting with Argo.
It was a good movie. The only thing I didn’t know about Argo, and subsequently found out, is that the ending isn’t really the ending. It’s more of a Hollywood ending. But I really liked the story, partly because a Canadian was so instrumental in it. But any of those true stories, that you don’t know the full story about, are often very interesting, and I thought Argo was very good.
What about Lincoln?
I saw it four times.
No you didn’t. Seriously?
Yeah. The first time I had to walk out because I had an important phone call. The second time I fell asleep. The third time I didn’t realize it was as long as it was, so I didn’t plan well and I had to leave early. I had a space of maybe two-and-a-half-hours and it was a three-hour movie. The fourth time I sat by myself and watched the whole thing. I love those history-related movies and I thought Lincoln was very good. I really enjoyed it.
How about Daniel Day-Lewis in it?
Well, he won with There Will Be Blood and I remember him in My Left Foot, so he’s a very good actor. I imagine he’s the front-runner.
How about Zero Dark Thirty?
I thought it was very slow to start off with, but very good at the end. I was really anxious to see it, because the story itself was crazy. We don’t know what those people go through. That part was great to me, but I just thought it was very slow in getting all the characters into it. It was like watching a Marvel movie that hasn’t been shown yet because they have to get all the characters in sync.
Silver Linings Playbook?
I really liked it. It was different, wasn’t anything that I expected. I thought it was a really good movie. The ending really came together for me, but there were parts where I was going, “What is this?” Then all of a sudden it came together. When I leave the theater feeling good about the movie, then it’s worth it.
Bradley Cooper was good.
Yep, Bradley Cooper was good and … who was the girl?
Yeah, she was really good. She was good in Hunger Games, but this was a totally different side?
You saw Hunger Games?
Yeah, I did. I see everything.
Did you see Django Unchained?
Again, a really slow movie with some tremendous dialogue in there. But too phony for me. Like, he shoots 100 people in the house and never gets winged once. And I thought the way they made the blood spatter was a little much, but that’s Quentin Tarantino, so…
My wife wanted to see it. I saw so many movies around Christmas, and before every one they had this five-minute dissertation on Les Miserables that it made me not want to see it. I felt like I saw it 20 times already.
Are you a musicals guy?
Yes, love musicals.
Have you seen any of the foreign films?
No, especially because I haven’t had a lot of time since the season started. I’ve maybe seen one or two on the road. If one of those foreign films make it in, then I’m done, because I have no idea what they’re talking about. Those artsy movies.
There is one foreign film nominated called Amour.
Yeah, didn’t see that. I don’t want to see it “any-mour.”
Beasts of the Southern Wild?
Haven’t seen it, but I’m going to.
Going down the list here … Life of Pi?
Didn’t want to see it. It looked interesting, but I’m not really into fantasy.
So what’s the favorite?
I want Argo to win. That was probably the most entertaining one that I’ve seen in the past year, and I’ve always like Ben Affleck’s stuff. We’re going with Argo.
When the Ducks traded a fifth-round pick for former Pittsburgh defenseman Ben Lovejoy on Wednesday night, they not only got a solid defenseman, but a guy with a likeable personality to go with his colorful name.
And since there's obviously no better way to gauge someone's character than by scanning their Twitter feed, I did that with Lovejoy's and asked him a few questions about it.
The first thing you see is that his Twitter account name is @RevLovejoy6, a nod to the character "Reverend Lovejoy" on the Simpsons that is the genesis of Ben's nickname, "Rev." He even has a picture of the reverend as his profile photo. The rest of the account name is the number Lovejoy wore in Pittsburgh, which he has secured with Anaheim. Here are some of the sample tweets I asked him to explain:
My Mom goes into UMASS Hall of Fame today. Wish I could be there & wish I had her scoring touch. umassathletics.com/sports/w-lacro…— ben lovejoy (@RevLovejoy6) January 26, 2013
"My mom went into the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame last month. She was a two-time All-American and still holds all sorts of schools records and NCAA records for scoring. I played at Dartmouth, but unfortunately, while I got some of her athletic skills, I did not get her goal-scoring touch."
OMG totes going to see @justinbieber with my besties 2nite.— ben lovejoy (@RevLovejoy6) November 20, 2012
[Laughs.] "Sidney Crosby has a box at Consol (Energy Center) for every event. He gives all the hockey games away to charity. He’s very generous to the guys on the team if we want to go to concerts. During the lockout, there were 10 or 12 of us skating in Pittsburgh to stay in shape. We all, with our significant others, went to the Justin Bieber concert. It’s something I’m glad I went to, but I will not be a regular or go to too many more Justin Bieber concerts. It was a cool experience, and I don’t usually tweet like that. It was just kind of spur of the moment. While I was there, I figured I’d throw out something funny like that. People appreciated it.
"It was crazy. We were up in the balcony in the box, and the floor was shaking. We’ve played some big hockey in that place, but from 4-year-old girls to 80-year-old women were absolutely screaming for Justin Bieber. It was a show. He’s obviously a talented entertainer and it was cool to see."
"I’m the oldest of three boys. I have a hockey-playing brother who is a junior at Dartmouth and I have a lacrosse-playing brother who just graduated from the University of Virginia and was a rookie this year in Major League Lacrosse. He had a great year. He’s a very good lacrosse player."
I'm giving up on Breaking Bad.12 episodes in and i'm bored.— ben lovejoy (@RevLovejoy6) September 4, 2012
"I thought the first two seasons were very slow, but I did stick it out and, like everyone else, I’m very into it."
2nd wedding anniversary. Think my wife is still happy she couldn't resist my frat basement wheels 7+ years ago? twitter.com/RevLovejoy6/st…— ben lovejoy (@RevLovejoy6) July 17, 2012
"My wife Avery and I started dating at Dartmouth, and I was in a fraternity. There are no bars or clubs in Hanover, New Hampshire. The main social scene is fraternity house basements. I was joking with her that that’s where she fell in love with me."
A fan known as tigerlilycoconut on Instagram took top honors, solely for her idea to (apparently) ask several Ducks to make their goofiest face before she snapped a shot. Some are better than others (in other words: well done, Jonas Hiller and Hampus Lindholm; what the heck, Nick Bonino?). Here is her collection:
Even before that debut, Ducks fans have been intrigued by Etem (partly because of his SoCal roots) since he was nabbed 29th overall by Anaheim in during the 2010 NHL Draft in Los Angeles. (I remember being in Staples Center that night and high-fiving a co-worker next to me as soon as Ducks GM Bob Murray announced the pick with the words, “From Long Beach, California…”)
We already know a lot about Etem, but here’s a little more, courtesy of a chat I had with him following practice Wednesday afternoon, and just before he’d sign hundreds of autographs for season ticket holders at the annual Face-Off Fest event.
First off, who’s your Super Bowl pick?
I’m gonna go with the Ravens. I’m a Raiders fan, so I can’t cheer for a team right across the Bay.
How did you grow up a Raiders fan?
When they were in LA when I was a kid, I rooted for them. I know they haven’t been here for awhile, but I still root for them.
Last movie you saw?
Gangster Squad. Fantastic. Great acting.
What’s your pick for the Oscars?
I saw Zero Dark Thirty, which I assume is nominated. It was alright, kind of slow. What else is up for it?
Oh yeah, I saw that. That was good. I’ll pick that.
If you could meet any celebrity, who would it be?
Is Barack Obama a celebrity?
Well, he’s the president. He’s the leader of the world, so I could learn a lot from him.
So you’re going to have to win a Cup in the next four years. That’s one way to meet him.
Yeah, I guess so. I’ll take that for sure.
Your celebrity crush. Not Barack Obama, right?
[Laughs] No, no. Charlize Theron.
What music do you listen to?
Lots of reggae. Rebelution, SOJA, Iration. [Note: I had to Google the spelling of all three of those.]
Have you always listened to reggae?
Yeah, for sure. I started out with Sublime, since they’re from Long Beach. I was into ska and reggae from the start.
What’s something on your iPod that you’re embarrassed about?
I’m not a huge fan of country, and somehow I have that "Chicken Fried" song on there from way back.
You gave in and downloaded that one?
Yeah. [Laughs.] Now that you bring it up, I’ve got to get that one off there.
What’s a TV show you can’t live without?
I’m watching Workaholics right now. That’s my go-to right now. That’s really funny. They just started a new season.
Nick’s Burritos in Seal Beach, for sure. Mexican food is my favorite, so SuperMex, Taco Surf, places like that are my favorite.
Anything fancier than that?
Not really. That’s probably as fancy as it gets for me.
What’s something you refuse to eat?
I eat pretty much … actually, brussel sprouts I hate.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
I’m terrible with lyrics, so…
Well, they’re written out for you on the TV screen.
Yeah, I know, but even still. [Laughs.] Actually, Smith-Pelly knows I struggle with lyrics too, so there’s this rapper named Chief Keef [again, I had to Google], and he put the lyrics on the screen for me in the hotel room the other day, and even as the song was going, I was reading the lyrics and still messing up. I’m terrible.
What superstitions do you have before a game?
I put all my equipment on from left to right. So, left skate before my right, shin pad, so on and so forth.
What’s the best thing about being a pro athlete?
It’s early on, but the treatment is good. Everyone is so nice and respectful. Everyone likes to have fun, and everyone likes to win. The travel is a lot easier. I’d much rather take the plane than ride the bus.
Did you have long bus rides in juniors?
Yeah, one was 33 hours, from Medicine Hat [in southeast Alberta] to Portland [Oregon]. That was a long one. We broke it up on the way there, but on the way back it was straight through. That was a rough one.
|“When the crowd is loud for something like this, that’s where the final energy comes from. I don’t think the fans even realize how big of an influence they can be for their own players."|
Incidentally, the Ducks are the last team in the NHL this year to have their home opener, and we’re pumped beyond belief – we know that. But how pumped are the players? They’re professionals, many of whom have played in their share of home openers. Heck, Teemu Selanne himself has played in 19 of them. How much do they get energized from the thunder of a sold-out crowd, the hoopla surrounding a night like this?
The answer? Plenty. And not surprisingly, Teemu gave the best take on it all. I'm gonna bold it because I liked the quote so much:
“When the crowd is loud for something like this, that’s where the final energy comes from. I don’t think the fans even realize how big of an influence they can be for their own players. I remember when Michael Jordan did something unbelievable in a game a long time ago and somebody asked, ‘How did you do that?’ and he said something like, ‘I don’t know where that came from. I wasn’t prepared to do that. But the energy I got from the fans in the building made me do it.’
“He said there is no way you could see half of those great plays in the game if there are no fans creating that atmosphere and bringing that ‘pump’ into your body. It’s absolutely huge.”
(As if you weren’t going to be loud enough tonight, that might push you even more.)
Here’s a few more Ducks on a night like tonight:
Devante Smith-Pelly: “Yeah, you can definitely tell when the crowd is into it. That always helps a little bit when they’re loud and cheering you on. You’ve just got to use that energy in a positive way. You can’t be running around trying to make a big hit or make a beautiful play to make the crowd loud. You’ve got to focus on playing your game, and the crowd will take care of itself.
“But especially after a lockout, the fans sticking by us during the whole process, of course we’re excited to finally get the chance to play in front of them.
Andrew Cogliano: “Any team would feed off of the crowd being into it and being loud. You just get more excited, you get more adrenaline. It creates an advantage. I’ve played in some pretty loud buildings, and this building when it’s going, it's really loud and really good. Hopefully tonight is one of those nights.
“It’s a different scenario with this season because people have been waiting for a long time. Obviously with people in Anaheim and this area, they love the team and we have a lot of fans. It’s exciting for them and exciting for us that we were able to go on the road and get a couple wins and feel good about ourselves, and now we’re able to come home and hopefully carry the momentum.”
Peter Holland, who is making his season debut tonight: “Obviously when the crowd is into it and they’re cheering for you and they’re excited for hockey, it definitely gets you going. That being said, you kind of need to calm yourself down almost. You don’t want to get too high or too low. Bruce talked this week about trying not to get too distracted. I think he said 17 of the 29 teams who have had their home openers have actually lost. He attributed it to guys being distracted, getting tickets for friends and family members, getting caught up in the whole hurrah of it all.”
Boudreau gave his team that 17-out-of-29 stat yesterday, and clearly Holland listened. I talked to Dan Winnik a little earlier in the week and he pointed out how in Vancouver’s home opener last Saturday, the Canucks came out a little too pumped up, and the Ducks pounced on their way to a 7-3 win.
As Boudreau told me this morning, it’s an exciting night, but it’s his job to make sure the guys don’t get carried away with it.
“I was a player for 17 years, so I know what it feels like. It’s exciting, but you want to try and keep everyone’s emotions on an even keel. They usually because they have so many things going on the day of the game, and we’re trying to eliminate that as much as we can, so they can focus.
“That being said, I think anytime you play at home, you’re excited, so I’m absolutely pumped up.”
I sat down with Luca after practice this afternoon at Honda Center, as he joined the other Ducks in signing hundreds of photos, pucks and other items for Ducks charity initiatives (see photo at right). Here’s our conversation:
AB: First off, who do you like to win the Super Bowl?
LS: [Blows air out of his mouth] I don’t even know. I’ll use the Swiss excuse that I was in Europe for awhile, so I haven’t really caught up. I would say … actually, the Ravens. They’re still in it, right?
Ravens or 49ers. That’s what’s gonna happen.
Those are the two teams that are in it.
Okay. That’s how much I know about it. Let’s go with the 49ers.
Last movie you saw.
Zero Dark Thirty. I thought it was good. It made it way better because it’s a true story. The last 30 or 40 minutes were good, even though I knew what would happen.
What’s the best movie you saw this year?
Lawless. It’s about the moonshining era. Shia Labeouf. Tom Hardy. I liked that one.
Who’s your celebrity crush?
There’s so many… [Thinks for awhile] … Adriana Lima.
Which celebrity would you most want to meet?
Because he’s a really good golfer. But I also want to ask him about a few things that went down [smiles].
What music are you listening to lately?
Temper Trap is one of my favorite bands.
Who? [Thinking he said “Temperature App,” which I assume is something you use on your phone to check the weather.]
Temper Trap. They have that song Sweet Disposition?
Oh yeah [Pretending I’ve heard that song before].
Yeah, I just like that alternative music, just hanging out at home.
What’s something on your iPod that you’re embarrassed to admit to?
I think I have a Britney Spears song on there.
Kyle Palmieri, signing at the table next to him, cuts in: “The new one?”
Yeah, probably that one.
Hit Me Baby (One More Time)?
Yeah, probably. I don’t know who put that on there, but … I have some Britney Spears I’m not proud of.
What's a must-watch TV show for you?
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. That’s a must-see.
I gave up on that after a few seasons. Should I get back into it?
You should. It gets better. Best show there is.
Favorite restaurant in Orange County?
Anaheim White House. Good food, good owner, they do good things in the community.
Uh, I just go on the same sites every day. TSN, NHL, anything sports.
What was the best part about living back home in Switzerland the past few months?
Just being able to see family and friends on a regular basis. I was playing two hours from my hometown, so I got to see my parents and buddies a lot. It was just good to be back home for a bit.
Where were you living exactly?
Lugano. Really nice, 20 minutes from Lake Como, 50 minutes from Milan. Pretty cool city, actually.
Isn’t Lake Como where George Clooney has a house?
[Without hesitating] Yeah, I hung out with him a couple times. A few espressos and stuff.
[Laughs ] No.
You may have remembered me mentioning a few days ago that Teemu got a look at the bobblehead doll of his likeness that's part of the Ducks Die Hards membership kit, and insisted it didn't look like him.
Here's some outtakes from the video they shot with him to promote the bobbleheads and the kit. (Please excuse my voice coming from behind the camera, trying to convince him it looks enough like him.)
Again, if you're in the bobblehead CLICK HERE and join the Die Hards today.
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.