Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 12:26 PM PT
Man, it was good to see the Ducks back on the ice again.
This year’s edition of camp was moved from its usual venue of The Rinks – Anaheim Ice to Honda Center, where more than 1,200 fans filled in a few sections of the lower level to watch the team go through a variety of drills. Unlike in past camps, the Ducks won’t scrimmage over the first two days, instead waiting until Monday morning to hold their first intrasquad games. (We have plans to stream that first scrimmage live on the website, so stay tuned for that.)
And after waiting through the always-long offseason to see anything resembling Ducks hockey, there were certainly some sights to see for the fans. Along with the usual crowd-rousers like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, and the like, there were a handful of Ducks whose mere presence on the ice was extra satisfying. Of course, there was Teemu Selanne, who announced his return for one more season a mere two days ago. There was Jonas Hiller, who is battling back from the vertigo symptoms that kept him out of most of the second half of last season. There was Lubomir Visnovsky, who was hindered by two bad shoulders in last year’s postseason. (Afterward, Randy Carlyle said that Visnovsky told him he was "100 percent healthy" after Lubo just recently got back from good friend Pavol Demitra's memorial.) There was Matt Beleskey and Toni Lydman, two guys who underwent offseason shoulder surgery and were taking part in the practice, but in the red “no contact” jerseys for the time being.
The Ducks went through the day with two waves of players, with Group A getting out there around 9 a.m. with notables like Getzlaf, Perry, Fowler, Luca Sbisa and Dan Ellis. They ultimately headed in to make way for Group B, which had Ryan, Selanne, Hiller, Visnovsky and George Parros, among others. Each of the bigger guys got a reaction from the crowd when they stepped on the ice (louder for Selanne and even louder for Hiller), with Parros earning some extra love when he gave fans a swinging fist pump as he skated from the bench area.
Among the more entertaining drills was one where players went through a one-on-one race where they skated through cones in their own end of the rink, then sprinted to center ice to pick up a puck at the red line. The skater who got their first got on a breakaway against a Ducks goalie. At one point, Getzlaf beat Perry to the puck by such a distance, he had a little fun by skating backwards as Perry chased him, before firing a shot.
Meanwhile, there were the youngsters like Emerson Etem, Devante Smith-Pelly, Kyle Palmieri and Andrew Gordon, each of whom will be looking to nab a spot in this camp over the next few days.
The Ducks will be at it again tomorrow morning at Honda Center, again open to the public.