It was a day of reflection for the Ducks as they cleaned out their locker room stalls and held exit interviews this afternoon at Honda Center.
In a season that ended too soon, the Ducks will have the offseason to ponder what could have been for this team. A number of them, following annual end-of-season meetings with coaches and management, spoke to the media before leaving for the summer.
With his daughter nearby, Teemu Selanne reflected on his past season and his future. “I’m waiting,” said Selanne, on whether he’s made his decision to play another season or retire. “This is not the time to think about it. I need more time.”
Selanne conceded that the way the Ducks finished left a bitter taste for him and his teammates. “I’m obviously very disappointed about how things finished here,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to watch the next round. It will hit even more.”
Pending unrestricted free agent Saku Koivu said he’ll need to step away for a bit and get hockey off his mind before he decides on his future.
“At this point, it’s still too soon for me,” Koivu, 38, said. “I’m going to take a few days to relax and not think about hockey. I’ve always wanted to get my plans clear, the sooner the better.
“I have to think about what I want to do for the next year, and then meet with the team and see what the plan is for next year. But right now I haven’t made up my mind yet. [Bruce Boudreau] and I had a quick meeting this morning and he feels the same way,” Koivu added. “He’s hoping I’ll be back next year and we can get another run for it, but we’ll see.”
Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray echoed that sentiment by simply saying, “I would like him back.”
Acquired via trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins early on during the season, defenseman Ben Lovejoy said he hopes to be a part of the Ducks’ future. Like Koivu, the 29-year-old New Hampshire native is an unrestricted free agent.
“We’re going to hopefully bear down and figure out if I’m in this team’s future,” he said. “This place has given my hockey career a second life. Christmastime, during the lockout, I was thinking to myself ‘This may be it. I may have to use my brain to find a real job.’ But Bob Murray and the Ducks, Bruce and [assistant coach] Bob Woods, gave me a second chance.
“I feel like I was able to be a big contributor to the Ducks and I would like to be back. My agent and David McNab [Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations] have spoken a few times and we’re working on it. I had my meeting with Bob Murray. It was very, very positive.”
PLAYING THROUGH INJURIES
Murray also addressed the media this afternoon and revealed some of the injuries the Ducks were playing through.
The big revelation revolved around defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who played with a torn ACL for the past month. Beauchemin will have surgery soon and says his goal is to be ready for training camp. “He promises me he’ll be ready by the start of the year, and I don’t argue with Beauch,” Murray said. “If he says he’ll be ready, he’ll be ready.”
Murray revealed that the injury that kept Nick Bonino out for most of the last month and a half of the regular season was a torn hamstring. The 25-year-old missed nearly a month (20 games) from mid-March to mid-April, but credits his rehab program for allowing him to return as quickly as possible. “I’ve healed quickly from stuff before,” he said. “We just thought, let’s do some PRP [platelet-rich plasma], some blood therapy and see if we can kind of kick start it and it worked. I was skating in about four, four and a half weeks, and was able to play six weeks to the day. The treatment I got was awesome.”
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf battled through an ankle injury initially suffered in a game against the Dallas Stars on April 3rd. “We tried to give him rest, but there’s no time to get him rest,” Murray said. “That [injury] didn’t get better.”
Toni Lydman suffered a head injury on an illegal hit from Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader in Game 3 of the quarterfinals, which earned Abdelkader a two-game suspension. Lydman missed the rest of the series.
“Yesterday was really good,” said Lydman. “It’s off and on, but it’s definitely getting better. It’s good. In normal life I don’t have any problems. The headaches are so minor that I don’t have to worry about it so much.”
Goaltender Viktor Fasth had a lower abdominal strain and was playing at approximately 80% toward the end of the year. Murray says he’s hoping treatment will solve the issue.
Trade deadline pickup Matthew Lombardi may require surgery on his left shoulder after being diagnosed with an ailment a week after he was acquired by the Ducks.
FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT
With the emergence of Anaheim’s younger players this season and in the series against Detroit, fans can be optimistic about this team’s future.
Koivu: “The future for this team looks really good. A lot of our younger players came up and played a big role, and their role got bigger as the season went on. We got some big goals from those guys in the playoffs. A lot of our key players are already signed for next year and for the future. It really looks good. But at the same time, it’s a tough battle for 82 games to make the playoffs. When next year comes, teams are ready for us. They know we have a tough team and we showed it this year. For us to do it again, we have to be ready from day 1 and not just expect that it’s going to happen.”
Getzlaf: “I was really proud of the way our young guys showed up to play, and played in some big situations. That looks really good for our future. It’s one of the reasons why me and Pears [Corey Perry] felt we should sign here and stay.”
Murray: “I thought our bottom-six forwards played very well. That’s very good going forward. Our two young kids, Em [Emerson Etem] and Kyle [Palmieri] played very, very well. We have some more coming, as you all know. That’s good.”
Boudreau: “We believe some of our inexperienced guys are going to get better and play bigger roles. At this stage, [Kyle] Palmieri’s first year was pretty adequate but we think he can be better. Emerson Etem really came on at the end and we think he’s going to be better. Matt Beleskey is going to be better. Cam Fowler struggled a little bit in the beginning but at the end, he was as good as he’s ever been. Guys like that being better are a big part of the team being better. And there are other guys. We look for Devante Smith-Pelly to really bounce back. After a good first year and mediocre happenings in the second year, we think he’s still a really big part of this future. It’s up to them to be that way. Patrick Maroon showed a lot in the 12 or 14 games he played. Peter Holland did a lot of good things. Our young guys are really going to push the incumbents into being a better team.”
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