The name bestowed upon the Ducks booster club -- Die Hards -- has never been more appropriate than it was over the weekend.
A group of about 50 of them took an overnight trip to Glendale to watch the Ducks play the Coyotes on Saturday night, and I was lucky enough to tag along with some other staff members from our Fan Development department.
Only for a bus trip to Phoenix could I justify waking up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday, but there I was joining everyone else in the morning light at Honda Center to start the six-hour bus ride. And it was a ride made a little more palatable by the events planned by the FD guys, including Ducks trivia for prizes and a playing of the always-welcome 2007 Stanley Cup Champions DVD.
Once in Phoenix, we enjoyed pretty much everything but the final result of the game, a 4-0 loss in which the Ducks couldn't get any of their 44 shots past goalie Mike Smith. Before going into the arena, we were treated to a tailgate with a few passionate Coyotes fans, one of which had a sweet pair of tattoos on his calves (see below). After the game, all of the Die Hards were brought down to an area near the locker rooms, where they were able to see the Ducks on their way to the bus. Teemu Selanne
and Bruce Boudreau were among the Ducks nice enough to stop and chat for a couple minutes and pose for pictures before heading out of town. Even Senator John McCain, who attended the game and visited the Coyotes locker room afterwards, stopped to say hello. (I posed for a picture with him, but my buddy's phone died right as he snapped the shot.)
That was followed by some postgame merriment in the Westgate bars and restaurants that surround the arena, then another six-hour trip back to Anaheim the next morning. Once there, the obvious thing to do was take in another Ducks game, as each member of the club got tickets to that night's home finale against the Oilers.
All in all, a great (though quick) trip and a great group of fans. Can't wait to do it all again next year.
A few photos from the trip:
An enthusiastic group at the start of the bus ride to Glendale.
Couldn't believe how many Ducks fans were in this Chester Fried/Taco Bell Express. What a coincidence!
Staffer Jason Cooper expertly hosting Ducks trivia.
"Coop" in front of our Glendale home for the night.
This guy loves his Yotes.
Our group at Jobing.com Arena, with the popular "Uncle Jody" in the foreground.
This t-shirt was shot from a cannon and fell into my lap. Power Players (and Die Hards members)
Erin and Fiona pose with it before giving it to a Coyotes fan.
Teemu poses with the Die Hards after the game.
Slightly less enthusiastic on the bus ride home.
Home sweet home.