Adam Brady is the Director of Publications & New Media for the Anaheim Ducks and Honda Center. Email him by CLICKING HERE.
Updated Sept. 30 at 7:06 p.m.
I usually don't travel with the team when they up to Staples to play the Kings. Usually the team leaves early in the day and kills time at a hotel until it's time to head to the arena. But with the team not leaving until 4:15 this afternoon, it was the perfect opportunity.
And, oh what a way to go from Anaheim to L.A. As the bus rolled through the carpool lane, I read the paper, answered some emails and even closed my eyes for about five minutes. We were door to door in 45 minutes and I didn't have to endure the typical 1,000-yard walk from the media parking lot to the Staples Center. The only disappointment about the trip? When the song "Tiny Dancer" poured loudly out of the radio, no one on the bus sang, as in this scene in one of my favorite movies, Almost Famous.
Of course, something else today's bus ride didn't have was Sean O'Donnell, who was traded this afternoon to the Kings. It was clearly yet another move to shave dollars off the cap for the Ducks, who were scheduled to pay O'Donnell $1.25 million this year. O'Donnell was dealt with the Ducks getting nothing cap-harmful in exchange (unlike the Schneider deal). Instead, Anaheim got a conditional pick from L.A. That condition? If the Kings trade O'Donnell before this year's trade deadline, the Ducks get their third round pick for 2009. If the Kings don't trade him before then? The Ducks get nothing.
So, where does this leave the Ducks cap-wise? As they stand now, they are about $285,000 over the cap with the players they have signed today. In the next 10 days, the Ducks have to send someone down (possibly, but hopefully not, Bobby Ryan) or risk losing someone in the $600,000 range on waivers to get below that magic line. "It depends on the configuration of the lineup," Brian Burke told reporters in the Staples Center press box, "To start the season with Bobby Ryan in the lineup, we're not there yet. We're exploring other avenues and if we can't do that, we'll start the season without him. I've covered that with Bobby. He understands."
Burke also indicated that the Ducks think newly acquired Ken Klee is a comparable player to O'Donnell and rookie Brett Festerling has boosted his stock with some good play in camp.
It's strictly a business move, but it's still tough to see the Ducks part with O'Donnell, an integral part of that 2007 Stanley Cup championship team. He was never flashy, he found the net about as often as you and me, but O'Donnell was a workhorse for the Ducks the past three seasons and a valuable partner with Chris Pronger in that defensive twosome. He was also a bright, thoughtful guy whether chatting in the locker room, doing TV or serving as a guest co-host on sports talk radio.
So, Sean O'Donnell, you'll be missed. But at least the Hermosa Beach resident is looking at a much shorter commute in his second stint with the Kings. A much, much worse team ... but a shorter commute.
It will be interesting to see who the Ducks put with Pronger to fill that spot. My money is on Kent Huskins, with Steve Montador playing with either Ken Klee, Festerling or Brennan Evans.
We won't see O'Donnell in the lineup for the Kings tonight (though word is he's in the building and will be honored sometime during the game). There is a good shot he'll be in the lineup when the Kings play at Honda Center tomorrow night. I'm wondering if he'll instinctively head toward the wrong dressing room when he gets here. That's going to be a weird feeling for good ol' Sean.
We're about 30 minutes away from the start of this one. If you're interested in my live game log, CLICK HERE.
Updated Sept. 30 at 2:43 p.m.
I have to admit it, somehow I'm having trouble getting pumped up for Ducks-Kings tonight at Staples Center. We're halfway through the preseason and I don't think I'm alone when I say I'm ready for the real thing. No more Diet Mountain Dew. Give me the real green stuff.
Nevertheless, I will be heading up with the rest of the team into sparkling downtown L.A. for tonight's bout at Staples Center. (Another reminder this is just a preseason game, the Ducks depart Honda Center at 4:15 this afternoon, rather than their normal Kings game routine of getting into L.A. around noon.) Tonight's game will be broadcast on AM 830 (and streamed on the website). I'll be keeping another live game log while trying to keep from getting dizzy from the nauseating glut of purple at Staples Center, not to mention the 38-degree climate in the press box.
Teemu Selanne won't make the trip with the rest of the Ducks, nor will Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger or J.S. Giguere. Brendan Morrison, who was said by Brian Burke to be playing in three of the next four preseason games, is also sitting out. (I would doubt he would play in the next three after this one tonight.) Randy Carlyle spoke to reporters today and said only that Morrison is still being evaluated and they will decide whether he's playing in Wednesday's home tilt with the Kings in the morning. But he said there is "a fairly good chance" Morrison will play and he has received medical clearance to do so.
Yesterday Morrison was tested on his surgically repaired right knee and it revealed that the strength in the knee is equal to his left. “It was kind of what I expected,” Morrison said. “I would have been very surprised if we didn’t have good results. I was confident.”
And he says he's ready to get some game action, not having played since March 26 while with Vancouver. “I’m excited and I’m a little bit nervous," he said. "A little bit of both. It’s time to get into a game, get a feel, take a couple hits, kind of get over that hurdle. It would be good, for sure, to get into a couple, get into a bit of a flow, not be completely lost come the start of the season.”
Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry will be in the lineup tonight, as will Chris Kunitz, Travis Moen, Samuel Pahlsson Todd Marchant, Rob Niedermayer and Bobby Ryan. Ken Klee will see his first game action since coming over in the Mathieu Schneider deal.
In case you missed it, the Kings did not pluck Nikolai Khabibulin off waivers, nor did any other NHL team, so he's still property of the Blackhawks (sound familiar?). Tonight, the Kings will not rotate their seven goalies every timeout, but instead will start Jason LaBarbera (their designated No. 1 for the season), who has a 4.20 goals-against average and .841 save percentage in two games.
Despite those numbers, the Kings are having a heck of a preseason, going 3-0-1 in games all over the map, including Kansas City, Colorado, Las Vegas and L.A.
Tonight's game could fire up some fisticuffs, as Kings tough guys like Kevin Westgarth, Wayne Simmonds and Raitis Ivanans will be in the lineup, while George Parros will be out there against his former team. A scuffle between Parros and Westgarth would be a doozy, since they are both Princeton grads. I can just imagine them throwing face punches while debating the optimal portfolio selection of private equity investments or the application of minimum cost machine scheduling algorithms to job shop manufacturing.
(Thank you, Google.)
In the spirit of tonight's game, just for old time's sake.
As we get closer and closer to opening night (nine days and counting), I've been asked to remind fans about the Ducks Road Crew promotion aimed to get Ducks fans up to San Jose for that opening game. I know I'll be there. I mean, I'll be flying up there with the team, but I'll be there.
Playoff fever has apparently struck some of the Ducks youngsters around here. After the skate this morning, Ryan Carter, Drew Miller and Matt Beleskey each walked out of Honda Center wearing three different styles of well-worn Angels caps. It's strange enough watching three 20-something dudes walking together wearing Angels caps (and not going to a game), but it's even stranger when you know they play for the Anaheim Ducks. As they went by, I asked Carter, "You guys want some Ducks caps? I think we can find you a couple." Carter said, "We're just representin' the crew,'" and then looked at the other two and said, "Are we really all wearing Angels caps?"
I'll have more when we get to Staples later this afternoon, including word on a possible Ducks trade.
Updated Sept. 29 at 2:24 p.m.
If the first two preseason games at Honda Center are any indication of what Ducks fans are in store for during the 2008-09 campaign, it's going to be a fairly electrifying year. Along those same lines, if those two games are signs of what's to come, there are a few more things we can count on this year:
- Teemu Selanne will be just as good at 38 as he was at 35.
- Corey Perry will score 164 goals this season.
- Ryan Getzlaf will have 287 points this season.
- The Ducks will never quit, no matter how late in the game it's getting.
- The shootout will continue to be no friend of Anaheim's.
All of those things were indicated in last night's thrilling-for-the-preseason 5-4 shootout loss to the visiting Vancouver Canucks. (Well, all of those things but Perry and Getzy's predicted numbers.) For the second straight night at Honda Center, the Ducks treated fans to all they could want to see in a preseason battle. There were plenty of goals, plenty of physical play, a fight to the finish and an emphatic "yes, I'm back" by a certain Finnish winger.
Leave it to Teemu Selanne to seize the moment, as he had not one but two big power play goals for the Ducks. Although, if he really wanted to light up the already-pumped crowd, he would have connected in the shootout (which the Ducks lost by only converting once in the five rounds). I was surprised to see Selanne not employ the move he was successful with last season, where he charges at the net as hard as he possibly can, and just when the goalie realizes he's not getting steamrolled, Selanne flips the puck by him. Instead, Selanne tried to swing in from the right side and get off a quick wrister, but was denied by Canucks goalie Curtis Sanford.
The shootout loss did little to spoil a valiant effort by the Ducks, who fought back from third-period deficits twice to send it to overtime. And part of the reason for that was Corey Perry's one-timed goal with just 2:14 remaining, a goal that was set up by a phenomenal play by Getzlaf (who looks unbelievably good so far this preseason). Fast forward to the 1:56 mark of this video and watch Getzlaf use brute strength to fight off Rob Davison, then somehow shuttle the puck to Perry blindly as he's falling backward.
I'm telling you, Ryan Getzlaf is a ridiculously good player and it already looks like he's even better than he's ever been. With Perry healthy the entire year and those two even more accustomed to playing together, I don't see any reason Getzlaf shouldn't have 100 points this season.
It was an odd sight to see Brad May (a guy Brian Burke once called "tougher than a night in jail) head off the ice last night bleeding from the face. May took a serious shot to the nose on a collision with Davison in the first period. May didn't return, but word last night was that the nose was not broken, so he should be fine.
We're hearing that Brendan Morrison, who hasn't played in a preseason game yet as he strengthens that surgically repaired knee, is supposed to appear in three of the last four. That may start with the battle with the Kings tomorrow night.
Morrison was among a handful of Ducks who practiced today at Honda Center, including Matt Beleskey, Josh Green, Andrew Ebbett, Bobby Ryan, Brett Festerling, Brennan Evans, Ken Klee and David LeNeveu. The rest of the Ducks had the day off.
Meanwhile, the Ducks cut 10 guys today, and a couple of surprises on that list were young defensemen Brian Salcido and Brendan Mikkelson, both of whom were thought to have an outside chance of making the opening night roster. That would seem to further indicate the Ducks are hanging on to new acquisition Ken Klee, but we shall soon see.
Going back to last night, just before puck drop Brian Burke spoke to a group of reporters crowded into a corner of the Honda Center press box to talk about that morning's signing of Teemu Selanne. And he reiterated the love he has for Selanne for sticking with the Ducks: “What Teemu could have commanded the last two seasons, this is a guy who’s taking a pay cut to play for
Meanwhile, Burke called the Schneider trade and subsequent cap relief, "a big gorilla off my shoulders ... You don’t feel like you have control over the decision-making process when you’re really at the mercy of a team stepping up.
He acknowledged the Ducks still have work to do to get under the cap after signing Selanne, but that it will be much easier to do than it was before the Schneider trade. "It will be a pure hockey decision that makes sense," Burke said. "We've got internal options that will solve it, and if we have to do that, we'll do it."
For those reading between the lines and wondering if that means a temporary demotion of Bobby Ryan or another Duck, Burke said,
"I think you folks know I'm not very sentimental."
After last night's game, a game in which he looked as effective as he's ever been, Selanne tried to dismiss speculation that he might not even play the final year of that two-year deal. “I wouldn’t sign for two years if I wasn’t thinking about playing next year,” he said. “I feel right now that I can play longer than one year, but things can change. At this age, you want to go one year at a time. Let’s try to survive this year first."
I say that's a nice idea.
One last thing about Teemu, now that he's officially a Duck for this year, we've added him to the race for Vote Ducks, as he battles Rockin' Rob Niedermayer for the right to be Secretary of State. Get in there and vote. (That's as political as I'll get from now on.)
In news from around the league, the Blackhawks have just put goalie Nikolai Khabibulin on waivers. Hello, Kings? Are you there? Anyone? I know $6.75 million for a goalie who might, might be past his prime seems like a lot. But then again, you are almost $18 million under the cap. Right now there is a poll on your website asking fans which goalie they think will lead the team in wins this year ... and there are seven choices. Are you really planning to roll with Jonathan Bernier, Erik Ersberg or Jason LaBarbera? Really? Again?
Alright. Just checking.
Updated Sept. 28 at 1:38 p.m.
It's been a hell of a weekend to be a Ducks fan.
First there was Friday's long-awaited news that Mathieu Schneider was traded, and the Ducks didn't have to get rid of Bobby Ryan to do it. Now two days later comes another long-anticipated announcement, that Teemu Selanne has signed with the Ducks. And as was alluded to weeks ago, the contract is not only for this season, but the next one as well. Whether or not Teemu actually plays the 2009-10 season is up in the air.
As soon as Ducks fans digest the news that Selanne has signed, they probably want to know the cash involved. The Ducks don't officially release the financials, but you're going to find it out soon enough, so here goes:
Selanne is getting $3.25 million for this year and $2 million next year for a total of $5.25 million. Since the salary cap hit to the Ducks is an average of those two years, we're looking at $2.625 million. We learned Friday that with the Schneider trade, the Ducks dropped to $1.4 million under the cap. Now they find themselves back over the limit again, to the tune of about $1.225 million. That means, as has been indicated since the Schneider deal, the Ducks have to make another move (or moves) to get under the cap by opening night.
Whether that means a trade or somebody (his name rhymes with Schnobby Schnyan) getting sent down to the minors or even a veteran being put on waivers with the chance he starts the year in Iowa, remains to be seen. The Ducks have 11 days to figure that out.
Word is that Selanne signed the two-year deal because of his hope to play one last time for Finland in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. If, however, he does retire after this season, the Ducks would not pay him that $2 million for the following year, but they would still be on the hook for that $2.625 million against the cap. Then again, right now 2009-10 seems light years away.
More importantly, Teemu Selanne is officially a Duck for 2008-09 (I guess that pro tryout went well for him) and will be in the lineup tonight when the Ducks take on Vancouver. I'm guessing that when No. 8 hits the ice tonight, if you're in the building you might temporarily forget it's a preseason game. Speaking of that, tickets are available.
We'll have Teemu's comments on video later this afternoon, probably an hour or so before gametime.
By the way, Schneider passed his physical in Atlanta, so that trade is official.
Updated Sept. 26 at 2:14 p.m.
The moment we've been waiting for the last who-knows-how-many weeks has finally hit us. Mathieu Schneider has been traded to the Atlanta Thrashers. And aside from Schneider getting claimed when he was put on waivers a week and a half ago, you've got to feel like this is pretty close to the best case scenario for the Ducks.
First off, they were able to trade Schneider without packaging someone like Bobby Ryan (who had been rumored to be part of the deal). And since the chances of dealing Schneider without having to take anything back from another team became less and less of a possibility, getting the guys the Ducks got from Atlanta is ideal.
More than the potential of Ken Klee, Brad Larsen Chad Painchaud, Ducks fans want to know the numbers, so here goes:
Schneider, as you've probably read a thousand times over the last several weeks, makes $5.625 million this year against the cap. Klee ($1.25 million) and Larsen ($535,000), both of whom are going to be on the Ducks roster, make a combined $1.785 million. (Painchaud is on a two-way contract and will head to Iowa.) That means the Ducks shave off a net of $3.84 million, which puts them under the cap by about $1.4 million.
Now the focus turns from this trade to Teemu Selanne, whom the Ducks clearly hope to sign as soon as humanly possible. But it's likely the team might have to make at least one more deal in order to free up just a little more cash for him.
With the 37-year-old Klee, the Ducks now have seven veteran defensemen, while the 31-year-old Larsen is wedged in with a crowd of about a dozen Ducks forwards. Whether the Ducks turn around and deal one of those two, deal someone else, or send someone to the minors remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, the trade doesn't become officially official until Schneider passes a physical before 2 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday. Until that time, Klee and Larsen can't practice with the Ducks.
We'll have comments from Brian Burke later this afternoon, and one of the things you can guarantee Burkie will say is how much the Ducks appreciated Schneider. And it's a well-earned sentiment. Despite missing the beginning of the season with an injury, Schneider played some very good hockey for the Ducks, something that was vital when Scott Niedermayer missed the first few months of the season. And I won't soon forget the giant smile Schneider had on his face when he scored the winning shootout goal against Columbus at Honda Center, his first game of the season and first shootout attempt of his career.
The fact the Ducks worked so feverishly to trade him shouldn't take away from the fact that even at 39 years old he is still a top-level defenseman and a proven winner. And aside from his resitance to come to camp and walk into that awkward situation, Schneider has handled this whole thing with class.
That being said, I think I speak for all Ducks fans when I say I'm ecstatic that this thing is finally over with. Now we can turn our focus on bringing in the guy we want, rather than shipping one out. Although, that impending addition probably means the Ducks might have to do a little more subtracting. We'll hopefully know that over the next couple of days.
Updated Sept. 26 at 10:55 a.m.
I've only got a few minutes before I have to run out of here for a few hours, but I wanted to pass on a couple of things. First, here is the lineup tonight for the preseason rematch in San Jose:
|Steve Montador||Chris Pronger||Brett Festerling|
|Corey Perry||Samuel Pahlsson||Brian Salcido|
|Chris Kunitz||Travis Moen||Petteri Wirtanen|
|George Parros||Eric Boguniecki||Brendan Mikkelson|
|Drew Miller||Rob Niedermayer||Jonas Hiller|
|Sean O'Donnell||Logan MacMillan||David LeNeveu|
|Todd Marchant||Andrew Ebbett|
Second, word around here is that Mathieu Schneider is getting traded today.
Updated Sept. 25 at 10:54 a.m.
Last night during the first intermission, I grabbed a Diet Mountain Dew out of the display case in the Honda Center press box, and something occurred to me. Preseason games are a lot like Diet Mountain Dew. It looks a lot like real Mountain Dew -- the can, the logo, the lime green tint of the liquid -- but it's really not quite Mountain Dew. In the same way, preseason games look a lot like regular season games, but they're not quite the same, are they?
That being said, last night's clash between the Ducks and something mildly resembling the San Jose Sharks had everything you could possibly want in a preseason game. Want scoring? How's 10 goals sound? Fighting? How about six of them, including two from crowd favorite Brad May and one with Kent Huskins that left San Jose's Ryane Clowe gushing blood from one eye? Want an up-and-comer showing early signs of success? How about Bobby Ryan scoring two, helping on one and coming within an eyelash of a hat trick? Want a come-from-behind triumph by the home team? How about a four-goals-unanswered flurry in the third period that instantly turned a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 victory?
It was fun to watch, but just to provide a bit of a buzzkill, these weren't exactly the real San Jose Sharks the Ducks took down last night. Most of the San Jose regulars didn't make the trip to Orange County, while the home team countered with a lineup made up of at least 10 guys who will be on the opening roster, including starting goalie J.S. Giguere. Giguere, by the way, looked solid in net in the third after a shaky start that saw four goals get by him in the opening two periods.
But last night was all about B. Ryan, and with all the rumors swirling about him being traded in a Schneider deal, I had an image of Brian Burke sitting down at his desk, opening his email and promptly hitting the delete key on every email from an NHL GM that had the words "Bobby Ryan?" in the subject line. Alas, that's wishful thinking, but here's hoping the Ducks can find a way to hold on to him and see just how much he can flourish this year in this new body. The newly svelte Ryan may not have been pinpoint on his decision-making last night, but he was flying around the rink.
And how about the fisticuffs last night? Preseason fights often involve on-the-fence guys trying to make their mark in some way, but Brad May muscled his way into two brawls and owned them both. Meanwhile, the rarely-fighting Huskins looked like he might want to consider doing it more often. All I could think of when veteran Clowe was skating to the bench with blood dripping from his eye was him thinking, "Real glad I made that trip. I wonder how the boys are doing back in San Jose?" For a good look at the fight, check out Ducks TV from last night (warning: not for the faint of heart).
So overall, last night's affair was like an Ocean's Eleven sequel. A little sloppy, a little uneven, not quite as good as the real thing, but nonetheless entertaining.
Now the Ducks practice this morning with three more preseason games in three days over the weekend, the last coming back home against Vancouver on Sunday. We don't yet know who the Ducks will send to San Jose and Phoenix on Friday and Saturday, but we definitely know who they won't. The Ducks announced this morning the nine guys who they're either sending to Iowa or to their respective junior teams, each of which were told the news last night during the game. That was an awkward scene, watching the Ducks prospects in their finest suits being sent down the press box hall to a booth, where they learned they were flying out of here. It was like those scenes in that "Hard Knocks" show on HBO when the fringe players are told, "Coach wants to see you ... and bring your playbook."
One of the players was Matt Stefanishion, who couldn't be told the news during the game because he was in the game. And he was even credited with the Ducks' last goal. Man, just when we learned how to pronounce and spell his name, he's headed to Iowa.
Now the inevitable update on the situation with Mathieu Schneider, who today is rumored to be possibly going to Atlanta, which has the cap space to fit him in. Meanwhile, the Kings, St. Louis, Vancouver and New Jersey are still apparently in the mix. Schneider and Burke spoke on the phone yesterday and agreed that Schneider would stay out of camp at least a couple of more days, while Burke tries to make a deal. There was talk that Schneider would come to camp today, but that's not going to happen.
And finally, the always excellent Marcia Smith has a great story in today's O.C. Register on our own Bonner Paddock (Ducks senior director of corporate partnerships), who got back into town recently after a treacherous climb of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Updated Sept. 24 at 9:28 a.m.
After 156 humdrum days since the Ducks’ 2007-08 season came to a thudding end, I can’t believe I’m able to say this:
We have a game tonight.
Granted, it’s just a preseason game, but it’s the first time we’re seeing actual Anaheim Ducks on actual Honda Center ice for what seems like a very long time. And for those of you in the house tonight, here is the lineup:
You’ll notice that new Ducks Brendan Morrison and Steve Montador are not on that list, though hopefully they’ll get in there either Friday at
Another guy you won't see tonight is that Finnish winger who continues to be getting a shot as a pro tryout in Ducks camp. In case you didn’t notice, the Ducks’ tradition of not making their deadlines continues. (If the Ducks were a college student, they would have flunked out long ago.) This time it’s the “four days, max” that Brian Burke said last Friday would be the length of time it would take the Ducks to deal Mathieu Schneider.
I’ve been sitting patiently in the dark at my desk in the bowels of Honda Center waiting for that email, phone call or tap on the shoulder to let me know that something has been done. And we’ve gotten … wait this might be it ... no, it's just my dad calling …
But now there is breaking news out of
Standout St. Louis Blues defenseman Erik Johnson had alread missed the opening of training camp because of a knee injury he suffered while trying to stop his golf cart last Tuesday. Johnson apparently jammed his foot between the little pedal and the big pedal and managed to wrench his knee in the process. He did finish the round, but it’s looking like that’s the only playing he’ll be doing for a long time. The Blues just learned yesterday afternoon that Johnson could be out for the season because of a torn ACL and MCL.
Johnson was set to cost the Blues a cap figure of $3.7 million this season and they could ditch that number through the “long-term injury clause” provided for such occurrences. That combined with the fact the Blues don’t have a ton of depth on the blue line would make them a prime taker for a veteran defenseman. I don’t know, someone like Mathieu Schneider.
We’ll see if we know more in the coming hours. Or days. So far there is no word if and when Schneider might be forced to hit the ice for camp, which right now would have to be with the Ducks. (Awww-kward.)
Meanwhile, rumors are swirling that the Ducks could include Bobby Ryan in a potential Schneider deal (though the Ducks would probably be getting a cheaper winger in return in that deal). Because of the current situation with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, his bonus-laden contract will count $1.9 million against the cap this season, even though he’s making just $850,000 in salary. (I love how we say just $850,000. How many of you would kill for just $850,000?).
From what I’m hearing, while the Ducks acknowledge that including Ryan in a deal is a possibility, it’s the last thing Brian Burke wants to do. The Ducks see the potential in Bobby this season and would hate to have to part ways when he could be on the verge of a big year for them.
In case you didn’t already know, all of this is being done so the Ducks can find the cap room to sign Teemu Selanne. I know you already know that, but it’s my way of segueing into the fact that I’m glad Randy Youngman acknowledged in his column over the weekend what a refreshingly selfless person Selanne has been in this situation, especially in today’s pro athlete climate. The fact that Selanne has been willing to participate in Ducks camp on a pro tryout agreement, when he could have easily signed for a big number with another team, speaks volumes. Essentially, he’s sending a message you don’t hear a lot of athletes sending these days: Hey, I’ve made plenty of money. I just want to play.
On that same note (or on same hand), Selanne hasn’t even bothered taking out an insurance policy in case he’s injured while not under contract. "I've been a risk-taker all my life,” he said. “I've been skating six weeks, and any day something could happen. I don't think you can live your life in fear.”
Let’s hope that risk pays off. And soon.
Okay, I have to ask. Georgie, what the heck is going on here? Maybe as an extension of his Locks of Love work, Parros can donate some of this mustache to unfortunate males who are unable to grow facial hair.
I neglected to mention this earlier, but the Jean-Sebastien Aubin era in
Back to tonight’s game, it will only be broadcast via radio right here on this website. Look for a link to the live feed on our home page right before game time. It will be brought to you by your usual announcers, Steve Carroll and Brent Severyn. Sevy, by the way, not only arrived in
In addition to that broadcast, I will again have a live running game log, so you can keep up with the goings-on that way as well.
Because I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but … we have a game tonight.
Updated Sept. 23 at 4:55 p.m.
Apologies for the lack of production lately. A slight illness and other factors have taken precedence the last couple of days. Back with more tomorrow.
Updated Sept. 19 at 12:47 p.m.
Today is the one day each year around these parts where you feel like the hockey season has officially arrived. Each of the current Anaheim Ducks -- everyone from the Prongers, Niedermayers and Getzlafs of the world to the Beleskeys, Dingles and Salcidos -- arrived at Honda Center for the unofficial beginning of training camp. As they do on this day each year, the players were shuttled through various medical exams and physicals and then to different stations for headshots, portrait photos and video segments. And as much as the process can be a pain in the neck, everyone I saw was clearly in high spirits this morning.
And since nothing is ever routine around here, the Ducks had a surprise attendee today: a Finnish winger by the name of Teemu Selanne. The Flash is technically training with the Ducks on a "pro tryout agreement" until the team can find a way to sign him. Selanne, who not surprisingly looks to be in tremendous shape, chatted at length with assorted media members after his medical run-through. Topics included everything from the chance he's taking by working out with the Ducks without a contract to the fact that he didn't play in the golf tournament on Monday ("No one invited me," he said with a beweildered laugh.) In addition to once again indicating that he's ready to go, Selanne even hinted at wanting to play another season after this one. We'll have more on that in a story going on the site later today (plus some video of Teemu in the media session).
I got a kick out of the fact that while Teemu was being interviewed by the scrum of reporters, three baby-faced Ducks prospects arrived at Honda Center and walked slowly down the hall, watching him with the goofiest grins on their faces. That was a priceless sight.
I had to gather Teemu, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger for a special portrait shot that we're going to use for some publications this year. Pronger had a full beard going and Scotty had a version of his salt-and-pepper stubble that had the same length as you'd probably see on him after a first round playoff series. Just a few minutes before we began shooting, I asked each of them if they would shave (and I was only sort of kidding). When you see the photo, you'll know how they responded to that request.
Meanwhile, Mathieu Schneider was not in the house and won't be in attendance this weekend for on-ice training camp. His agent, Pat Morris, told the O.C. Register yesterday, “They have said something may be imminent, so there’s no point in coming. He’s going to stay home through the weekend. Maybe something will get done.”
So, if the Ducks were worried about any awkwardness with Schneider this weekend, that's not going to be a concern ... for now.
Speaking of this weekend, on-ice training camp starts at 9:45 tomorrow morning at Anaheim Ice and I'm expecting a decent crowd at the rink. We'll have some good coverage on the site as well.
Meanwhile, for those of you concerned about the status of a slightly less high-profile free agent, Drew Miller, word is the Ducks are set to sign him as early as today.
I had a chat this morning with Pronger about his new website, aptly named ChrisPronger.com, which is choc full of photos, video and a blog written by the big guy himself. That website was a topic of conversation when Pronger sat for a special Q&A with Register subscribers two nights ago. Pronger was his usual intimidatingly charming self during the interview, very funny and very relaxed. You can find highlights of that Q&A right here.
It's ironic that after the hulking hockey players are shipped out of here for the day, their spots in the dressing rooms will be filled by tiny tumblers, as the 2008 Tour of Gymnastics Superstars comes to Honda Center tomorrow evening. As all the Ducks stuff was going on this morning, I ran into two male employees (whom I won't name) wandering the halls looking for Alicia Sacramone. But I don't think they're going to find her anytime soon. She isn't on the tour.
Nevertheless, the fact that our staffers can hustle past Teemu Selanne, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, etc., in search of 20-year-old gymnasts is reason No. 542 why I love working in this place.
I got this email yesterday from a friend named Grant: So I was getting a root canal today and they had Fox News on in the room. They were showing Palin and McCain at a rally in Iowa and Palin mentioned the Iowa Chops and how she was hoping she could go to a Chops game to hang out with other hockey moms.
That's the one thing I've heard Palin say that I've liked since she was named running mate. (Go ahead. Bring on the emails.)
Updated Sept. 17 at 3:36 p.m.
The 9 a.m. hour came and went this morning and Mathieu Schneider still belonged to the same team as he did 24 hours prior. And hence, the Ducks find themselves in the same position they were in 24 hours ago -- trying to make a deal.
Brian Burke spent a good amount of time on the phone (from Boston) with local reporters this afternoon to try and make the situation more clear from the Ducks' end. A few highlights:
- Burke said the Ducks put Schneider on waivers yesterday because they were sure that several more veteran players would be put there by other teams in the next couple of days and he didn't want Schneider to get lost among that group. He also said the Ducks did it to free up money immediately to sign Teemu Selanne. Meanwhile, despite repeated attempts to trade Schneider -- including "a minimum of five proposals" in the last week -- Burke said the Ducks, "have not been able to put a deal together that makes sense, so we said we’re going to take a shot at this route and see what happens." Burke indicated what was speculated yesterday, that every team in talks for Schneider either wanted the Ducks to throw in another player (likely a prospect), a draft pick or take a relatively expensive player off their hands.
- Despite the prevailing wisdom, Burke said that although he's not surprised that a player with such a high salary cleared waivers, he was nonetheless "amazed, astonished, bewildered that he wasn’t claimed" because of how some teams clearly need help defensively.
- Burke reiterated that because none of the deals were palatable to the Ducks, they took a shot and put him on waivers to see if they could move out the entirety of his salary that way. No one plucked him off the wire, so the Ducks are right back to trying to deal him. In other words, Plan A wasn't quite working, so they took a shot at Plan B. That didn't pan out, so it's back to Plan A. And Burke seems to still be confident in it. "Moving Mathieu Schneider is not going to be a problem," he said. "We just haven’t seen a deal that we like that has lined up on all points."
- He said that the likelihood of the Ducks making a move before the team reports to camp Friday is "extremely remote." In fact, he made it clear a couple of times he was in no hurry. "As soon as I get off this call, I’m going to the gym," he said. "I’m not sitting by the phone. I would guess this will go well into camp now."
- Burke's insistence that he's in no rush to make a trade indicates that a pressing deadline (like camp getting underway) isn't going to pressure him into making a deal he'll regret. He once again reiterated how much he likes the current group he has ready to take the ice. "I’m not panicking and I’m not going to bust up this group," he said. "I respect what this group has accomplished and what they’ve done for us. I’m going to try to keep them largely intact. That is why some of these other deals don’t make sense. We have a lot of players on our team that other teams would like and there is a reason for that."
- The possibility of re-entry waivers for Schneider has been bandied about, meaning the Ducks would send Schneider to the AHL and he could be claimed by any NHL team at half his salary, with the Ducks paying the other half (and also having it hit their cap number). But Burke insisted that the Ducks are not considering that an option: "It’s not an option at this point. There is no plan at this point to try to lose Mathieu Schneider on re-entry waivers and pay half of his salary while he plays for another team. That is not part of the plan."
- Now that it looks like Schneider will be with the Ducks in camp, there was some question as to how aw...kward that will be. But Burke put those thoughts to rest: "I expect everybody to behave professionally. These players are highly compensated. They understand exactly what is going on ... That’s the least of my worries is how Mathieu Schneider is going to act. He’s a great guy and a good hockey player. Not only have I not thought about, no one on our staff has even raised it. We think the world of Mathieu Schneider.
- Even more from Burke to keep from sullying Schneider's good name: "It’s not like I wake up in the morning and say ‘How do I get rid of Mathieu Schneider?’ I wake up in the morning and say ‘How do I solve my cap problem?’ Big difference. I wish I could do it without involving Mathieu Schneider. I don’t see a way to do that, but I wish I could."
So where does that leave the Ducks? If Burke is right that a deal won't be done by Friday, that means Schneider -- a guy the Ducks have made clear they are trying to get to play someplace else -- comes to camp with the rest of last year's teammates. But any minute he could be told to pack his bags for Montreal ... or Ottawa ... or New Jersey ... or L.A. (which wouldn't require any packing). Meanwhile, Teemu Selanne still sits on the sideline, skating on his own and continuing to look to be in the kind of shape where he could score two goals in a game tomorrow night. And he's just waiting for the call to hear the Ducks are ready to talk salary.
One thing I will say for this place: It's never boring.
Updated Sept. 16 at 2:27 p.m.
You probably know by now that Mathieu Schneider was placed on waivers by the Ducks this morning and has until 9 a.m. (Pacific) tomorrow morning to be claimed. If he isn't claimed, the Ducks are right back where they started -- trying to trade him and his $5.75 million salary to make room to re-sign Teemu Selanne.
The waiving of Schneider has apparently caused a ripple of ... let's just say concern ... in the community of Ducks fans. But there is legitimate reasoning behind the move by the Ducks, who were likely dealing with several issues when it came to moving Schneider. One is that any teams interested in the veteran d-man that were either at, near or over the salary cap themselves, were likely offering a player in the $2 million range back to the Ducks to free up room for Schneider. And that's something the Ducks simply are not in a position to do. Meanwhile, any of the teams dealing with Anaheim for Schneider know the Ducks are in a position where they desperately want to move him. And those teams were looking to take advantage and sweeten the deal in their favor. Word is that some teams were looking for Anaheim to throw in a prospect or a draft pick along with Schneider, and the Ducks wouldn't pull the trigger on that.
There is also the other side of the coin to look at, that the Ducks were looking to deal Schneider for another team's prospect or draft pick. But teams with plenty of room under the cap to bring in a salary like Schneider's are probably in rebuilding mode, and the last thing they want to do is trade away part of their future for a 39-year-old veteran.
In addition, there is still the Mats Sundin issue at stake here, as Sundin is still unsure whether he wants to come back and play, and the teams with room to sign him are waiting to hear what his decision might be. With training camp just four days away, Brian Burke simply didn't have the luxury to wait for that to pan out.
Clearly the Ducks would have loved to get something in return for Schneider that wouldn't have put them in only a slightly worse cap situation that they're in now. But so far that hasn't been feasible. While it would have been nice, keep in mind that the ultimate goal here is to get rid of Schneider's salary to free up room to sign Selanne. If that has to be done by getting nothing in return for Schneider -- i.e. some team claiming him off waivers in the next 20 hours -- then so be it. If that happens, the Ducks essentially are trading Mathieu Schneider for Teemu Selanne, and there isn't a Ducks fan in the world who wouldn't approve of that trade. Now, would a trade of Schneider for Selanne and some team's draft pick be ideal? Sure, but probably not likely.
By putting Schneider on waivers, the Ducks are reiterating to the rest of the league that Schneider can be had for nothing in return, and if you want him, you better grab him now because he might be gone. Now the Ducks' hope is that he's claimed by one of the teams in a cap position to bring him in. One of the seemingly likely teams to do that is the Kings, who have plenty of cap room and could use a veteran defenseman. Meanwhile, the Kings are No. 2 on the waiver priority list, which runs in inverse order to last year's standings.
Now the Ducks are in a position where they hope Schneider gets claimed, and speculation around here is that there is a 50/50 chance of that happening. If not, the Ducks have to go to work again to make a deal for him, and possibly be willing to take a hit one way or another to make that happen. One thing to note: the buyout situation that the Ducks faced with Todd Bertuzzi -- where they are paying 2/3 of his salary over the next two years -- won't apply to Schneider. From what I understand, the buyout option period ended July 1.
So, we'll keep an eye on things over the next 20 hours and see what pans out. After that, we'll have some other issues to talk about.
Moving on, the intense sunburn on my face is today's reminder that I spent all day yesterday at the Anaheim Ducks Golf Classic at the Links at Monarch Beach. I spent most of my day, with fellow volunteer Kea of the Ducks Street Team, on the tee of the par-3 fifth, where they were giving away a new Honda Accord for a hole-in-one (no one got it). But while sitting in the sun watching other people who aren't me play golf isn't my idea of a great time, it did offer the chance to see some Ducks that I haven't seen since the days following that Game 6 loss in Dallas. Here are a few observations:
- Even though it's common knowledge that hockey players often make for good golfers, it definitely doesn't mean that all hockey players are good golfers. But I will say that among the Ducks with the best swings (if one swing with a long iron on a tough par-3 is any indication) are Chris Pronger, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Scott Niedermayer. Word was that Niedermayer had a whopping five birdies on the back nine, which is appropriate for the guy who played his best hockey (okay, his only hockey) in the second half of last season. The guys with the worst swings? I'd rather not say. But people still talk about how awful Ilya Bryzgalov was.
- A few players used the wait on the tee to check out the interior of the Honda Accord, which always seemed kind of funny to me. While it's a great car, it isn't exactly the professional athlete's vehicle of choice. The funniest was when Pronger squeezed his 6-6 frame into the driver's seat.
- Scotty apparently loves the tan visor with the silhouetted surfer icon on it. It's the same one he wore when he officially announced he was coming back to the Ducks.
- The newly wealthy Corey Perry's scar on his right leg (from the cut he suffered last year when getting sliced by a skate) is really ugly. He said it feels fine now, but it does get a little stiff once in a while. I did get Perry to talk about the session in Vancouver he was a part of where he was one of a half dozen NHL players to be motion captured for the new NHL 09 video game. Here's a photo that was NHL.com's Frozen Moment yesterday (thanks to reader Sasha for sending this).
- Brad May is still the nicest guy in the world. He has the uncanny ability to make anyone he's talking to feel like his best friend.
- Somebody get Ryan Carter a free Ducks cap. He was wearing an Angels lid all afternoon.
- The jury is still out on what Steve Montador will bring as a defenseman, but even in "golf attire" he looked like ... for lack of a better word ... a badass. With his three-day beard, heavily tattooed body and black hat, he looked as scary as anyone in a Polo shirt has ever looked. But just having talked to him for a few minutes, he seems like a hell of a nice guy. And, if the picture at the right is any indication, he apparently thinks Rob Niedermayer is hilarious.
- Travis Moen spent another summer on the farm back home in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, which from the looks of him, apparently doesn't have a barber shop. Though he laughed that he was, "trying to give Georgie a run for his money," he said he's getting his hair cut in the next few days.
- George Parros, Samuel Pahlsson and Brendan Morrison didn't play in the event, and I never did get a straight answer as to why (though I can understand Morrison laying off his recovering knee). Instead, they spent most of the afternoon messing around on the putting green or having Georgie make jokes into a mic that was hooked to a speaker on the first tee.
We're hoping to have photos from the tournament soon.
Take a look at this video on the KIIS-FM website involving J.S. Giguere and Brendan Morrison at CHOC Hospital (despite the unfortunate choice of accompanying music). If the video gets 102,000 views, the Ducks will donate $10,000 to CHOC.
I don't know who the Ducks have lined up to sing the anthem this season, but I can guarantee it isn't Kat Deluna, whose absolute butchering of it before last night's spectacular Monday Night Football game was met with well-deserved boos. And the game wasn't even played in Philadelphia.
We'll be keeping an eye on the Schneider situation and posting whatever we hear.
Updated Sept. 12 at 2:07 p.m.
The "informal" skates going on at Anaheim Ice over the past couple of weeks don't look all that informal, if yesterday was any indication. Just about every member of the 2008-09 Anaheim Ducks was either on the ice or in the workout room yesterday. That included the old (Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, J.S. Giguere, etc.), the new (Brendan Morrison, Steve Montador) and the uncertain (Teemu Selanne). One of the major indications that it wasn't your typical present-day Ducks practice was the on-ice presence of Dustin Penner and Joffrey Lupul, decked out in Oilers and Flyers practice garb, respectively. (Both keeps homes in Orange County for the summer.)
No big surprise, Selanne looked to be in tremendous shape and politely asked to wait until next week to sit for an interview and talk about his status. Also in great shape was Bobby Ryan, who says he had lost 20 pounds before putting a few more back on because he's been forced to drink energy shakes after having wisdom teeth removed. Ryan has spent almost all of the summer practically tied to Ducks Strength and Conditioning Coach Sean Skahan, who has been rounding Bobby into better playing shape. Let's hope that's the first step to great things for the kid this season.
I apologize on behalf of the Ducks if you were hoping to see rookie camp at Anaheim Ice this afternoon or Saturday. A last-minute move to Honda Center for logistical reasons means that it won't be open to public. But the regular Ducks training camp will be open to the public at Anaheim Ice.
Here's an indication that I've finally hit the big time. Apparently an enthusiastic Ducks fan has created a Facebook application of Ducks trivia and among the hundreds of questions is this one: Who is the Director of Publications and News Media for the Anaheim Ducks? (I'll excuse them for the slight typo on my job title.) The choices are: Tom Brady, Adam Brady, Dennis Brady and Brett Brady. While my ego skyrocketed when I saw the question, it dropped back down to Earth when I learned that only 49 percent had gotten it right. Then again, "Dennis Brady" was second with 49 percent. (Thanks for reader Kristen for letting me know about this.)
While most of the questions are serious Ducks trivia, there are a few offbeat ones like mine, including one involving Kent French's legendary Ducks TV interview with Snoop Dogg two seasons ago. You'll notice in this image, the question before mine was "Which Anaheim Ducks player married a Power Play girl?" Some people just don't forget, do they?
I remain a huge baseball fan, but the Angels were involved in two instances just this week that might indicate why hockey is the better game. First was the the normally likeable Torii Hunter's undeserving shove to the back of Yankees catcher Ivan Rodriguez after Rodriguez had given him a little elbow on a routine tag play at the plate. But worse than the shove was Rodriguez's reaction, an open-handed swinging slap through the crowd of players who had spilled off the bench to intervene in the scuffle. You want fighting? Hockey's your game. You want a fifth-grade schoolyard tussle? You've got baseball.
Secondly, as impressive as it was that the Angels clinched the AL West in such convincing fashion, I can't help but think their ensuing champagne-soaked celebration Wednesday afternoon was a little over the top. I will say this, however: I loved the fact the Angels allowed fans to stay after the Wednesday afternoon game and watch the Rangers-Mariners game on the video board, then the players came out to acknowledge the fans after the Rangers lost and the division was clinched. That was incredibly classy.
But this is an Angels team that clearly has its eyes on bigger things, and anything short of a World Series would be a disappointment. I can understand if you clinch on the last day of the season, or you're Tampa Bay. But the Angels have won four of these things in the past five years. What do you say we save the bubbly for mid-October? And it's not just the Angels. You can be certain that each Major League team in these playoffs will continue the tradition of throwing similar celebrations after advancing through each round. And that trend won't stop until you see something like this: "Angels pitcher John Lackey has been scratched from his scheduled start in Game 1 of the World Series. The team lists him day-to-day with ... burning champagne eye."
I like hockey's way better. You beat a team in a playoff series, you shake their hands, you shake each other's hands, maybe throw in a high-five and a hug or two and move on. Save the partying for when you lift that trophy.
Last thing: Ducks season ticket holders, you might want to check your mail soon. And get ready to get seriously pumped up.
Updated Sept. 10 at 4:11 p.m.
You'll excuse me for not having posted anything lately, but I've been busy the past two days with shooting Power Players video bios, a new feature we're adding to the website within the next few weeks. This job can be a real grind sometimes. I don't know why I bother with it.
Considering the number of emails I've gotten bringing this to my attention, I feel it appropriate to lead with the already-old news of the Bulgarian Women's National Ice Hockey Team losing to Slovakia by a score of 82-0 in a pre-qualifying tournament for the 2010 Winter Olympics. I was amazed by the utter glee people got from passing this news along. Looking into it further brought even more fascinating tidbits. Apparently Bulgaria went into the game having already lost 41-0 to Italy, 39-0 to Latvia and 30-1 to Croatia. I can just imagine the coach's pep talk before the Slovakia game: "Okay, girls, we've had some tough times. But let's go out there and win this one, finish this tournament strong. I know we can do it." And the next thing they know they're being outshot 139-0.
I also love the fact the coach didn't decide to take out the starting goalie until after she had given up 77 goals, and threw the backup in there with about three minutes left in the game. Although, the coach didn't have a lot of other options, as the backup gave up five goals on all five shots she faced in just a minute and 25 seconds. At least the starter stopped 57 of the 134 shots she faced.
Because of that, she was immediately signed by the Kings to a three-year deal.
Speaking of the Kings, a group that included Derek Armstrong, Denis Gauthier, Kyle Calder and Dustin Brown did a taping of "The Price is Right" yesterday afternoon for a special hockey-themed episode of the show. The episode will air Nov. 5. Here's a picture of the group with host Drew Carey, who was given this jersey just after the Kings signed him to a three-year deal.
The Kings have had auditions for their brand new ice girls this week, and here is a look at some of the candidates and a video recap of the auditions (fast-forward to about the 3-minute mark).
Congratulations to producers James Freeman, Greg Taylor and Steve Guerrero, whose "Shift Happens" tease for FSN West, which aired just before last year's Ducks home opener, won a well-deserved Los Angeles Area Emmy Award last Saturday. Here's a look at it.
The Hurricanes unveiled new third jerseys yesterday, which prompts me to again bring up my theory that third jerseys are like DVD deleted scenes: There's a reason they weren't there in the first place. These beauties do nothing to dispute that premise, and the looks on the guys' faces in this photo make it seem as if they're not crazy about them either. It also looks like they're about to sing.
I'm not loving the row of picture frames at the bottom of the jersey, unless they plan on putting each player's head shot in them. That would be nice.
Despite the fact that he played sparingly during last year's playoffs, the Red Wings resigned 46-year-old Chris Chelios for one more year yesterday.
I went to the Angels game last night thinking I might see them clinch the division title, but neither the Angles nor the Texas Rangers cooperated. Even more disappointing? I still can't get over the fact that the "nachos" at most of the concession stands at Angels Stadium of Anaheim Just Off Katella Near the Amtrak Station (or whatever it's called) is nothing but a sealed bag of Tostitos with a small plastic cup of melted cheese. I'm sorry, but I prefer my nachos to be like a game of pickup sticks, where I'm legitimately worried I'm going to spill something down my shirt with every chip I pick up.
One more mention of the Tom Brady catastrophe and I promise this will be the last time I bring it up. Not a big surprise, but Bill Simmons on ESPN.com did a much better job of capturing the horror of it all in his column. I can't believe I didn't think of the similarities to the epic classic "Varsity Blues" when it all went down. But, Simmons offers an excuse: You would have remembered these similarities, but the only thing anyone remembers from "Varsity Blues" at this point is Ali Larter's whipped cream sundae and the fact their stripper-teacher (as numerous readers have pointed out) looked exactly like Sarah Palin.
(Note to Simmons: Be careful commenting on the appearance of women involved in this presidential race. It tends to get people a little riled up.)
Meanwhile, clearly Darren Rovell of CNBC doesn't have enough to do at work, because he wrote a report that says the Brady injury "could shift about $150 million in fantasy league winnings from those who had Brady to those that didn't" and another report says that figure is closer to 1.5 billion. I would be one of those people, and I know I had a tough time actually clicking the button that officially dropped Brady from my roster. It was a little like eliminating a relative from your will. (Okay, it wasn't like that at all.)
I can't believe this is true, but apparently there is a script in the works for a movie depicting Sean Avery's experience as a summer intern at Vogue. Ideas for a title are welcomed. How about "The D-----bag Wears Prada"?
It might be a little late to make plans for tonight, but George Parros is scheduled to join a group of kids from the Boys and Girls Club of Anaheim for dinner and games at ESPN Zone tonight. Georgie will be signing autographs from 6:30 to 7.
Updated Sept. 8 at 2:24 p.m.
This is one of those Mondays where I'm actually glad to be in the office, because Sunday was a hell of a day.
It started early on a morning that I've been looking forward to for weeks: the first Sunday of the NFL season. But my elation instantly turned into abject horror as I watched Tom Brady get hit awkwardly in the first quarter of the Pats-Chiefs game, leave the game with a left knee injury and ... well, by now you probably know the rest. My favorite professional athlete of all time is -- I can hardly bear to repeat it -- out for the season.
I figured I could take my mind off things by rooting on the likeable Chargers to a seemingly in-the-bag victory over the visiting Carolina Panthers. And despite a rough start, San Diego looked to have the game in hand when it scored two touchdowns in the final seven minutes to take the lead with 2:27 left. But the Panthers scored a schoolyard touchdown as time expired, leaving me -- and my friend sitting beside me -- staring at the flat screen stunned and silent for the next several minutes. That TD pass, by the way, was caught by receiver Dante Rosario, not actress Rosario Dawson, as Fox seemed to think.
Later in the evening, I figured I could move on by catching a few minutes of the MTV Video Music Awards, a show I haven't watched in years. But that just made me more depressed. Either I'm getting on in years, or American popular music is at its worst point in the history of recorded sound. First of all, calling the VMAs a train wreck is an insult to train wrecks. It looked as if it was held inside a high school auditorium and produced by a team of broadcast students. The first sign of danger should have been the fact that the host was a British actor, Russell Brand, known in the States for nothing more than a 15-minute part in a summer comedy ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall"). And he was a mess from the very beginning, warbling through heavily accented jokes that left the crowd of teens and 20-somethings more confused than amused.
And the heavily hyped Britney appearance? Nothing more than a introduction of the show in which she amateurishly shielded half her face with the mic and rushed through the teleprompter-provided monologue like a high school freshman giving her speech for student body vice president. And she somehow won three awards (surprisingly, the first of her decorated career) for "Piece of Me," which just happens to be an awful, awful song.
Meanwhile, Christina Aguilera lip-synched (not rare for the show, but unheard-of for her), Paris Hilton couldn't seem to figure out that the teleprompter is usually located straight ahead of you, Jamie Foxx was clearly high on something and Demi Moore not only made an appearance about 15 years past her prime, but had to grab a mic from a stagehand on her way out because they had forgotten to provide her with one. Speaking of stagehands, they were constantly seen in the background of shots of presenters and winners, which I imagine was done intentionally. I'm just not sure why.
Throughout the night, nominess for awards included the likes of T.I., Lil' Wayne, Tokio Hotel and The Ting Tings. Seriously? I can't name one song by any of those performers, and the last two I had never even heard of until last night. That's when I finally realized it:
I'm officially old.
I figured I could get over that realization with an old standby: a good old-fashioned episode of "Entourage." But last night's long-awaited season premiere was a C+ at best.
And to top it off, I somehow managed to pay $17.72 for one medium pizza (half mushroom and olives, half sausage and pepperoni) from Domino's. Something tells me I didn't order right.
My spirits have been lightened, however, from emails I've gotten and message board posts I've read that have praised the two Ducks-related fundraising events held over the weekend: The Fedorin Cup and Shoot for the Cure. I wasn't able to make it to either event, but from what I've heard they were big successes. In addition to the several Ducks already booked for Shoot for the Cure, apparently Scott Niedermayer and Sammy Pahlsson made impromtu appearances.
Meanwhile, a lot of those players made it to the Fedorin Cup later in the day (photos courtesy of the Ducks message board), a game that included Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Pronger, Bobby Ryan, George Parros, Brad May, Todd Marchant, Steve Montador, Brian Salcido, and Brendan Mikkelsson in a matchup of Canada vs. USA. Although, Selanne was apparently representing Coto de Caza rather than Finland since he captained the USA team.
By the way, I love this photo on the right of Bobby Ryan, Getzy and Teemu. Looks like three generations of high-scoring Ducks forwards (let's hope).
Getzlaf and Pronger reportedly gave Bobby Ryan a good dose of rookie hazing by hitting him, hooking him and pressing him against the boards throughout the game. The highlight was a premeditated fight between Selanne and career minor-league bruiser (and Fedorin Cup veteran) Brendan Tedstone, who weighs in at well over 300 pounds. For a better look at Tedstone, check out this YouTube video (in which the announcers are possibly better than the fight itself). The Selanne-Tedstone "battle" apparently ended with Teemu playfully kneeing and "spanking" Tedstone repeatedly, with help from USA teammate Teddy Bancarz, who jumped in.
Despite trailing 13-9 in the closing minutes, Canada scored four quick goals to tie it 13-13 just before the horn. But Selanne and Marchant each scored goals for the USA in a shootout to give them the victory. For more on the game, check out Karen Francis' recap on the MVN website.
Meanwhile, I got several emails commending the Ducks on being so cordial and accomodating during and after the events.
Now if you don't mind, I have to go take my arthritis medication and see if Tom Brady's backup is available in my fantasy league.
Updated Sept. 5 at 3:35 p.m.
I don't have much today going into the weekend, except that Jonas Hiller fan Sasha sent along these photos she apparently found on Swiss websites (I don't do enough Swiss website surfing these days.)
Here is Jonas either running for political office or making a speech in which he uses air quotes. Maybe he's saying, "The Ducks say that I'm going to be their [air quotes] 'backup goalie' this season. We'll just see about that."
And here is a Jonas hockey card from the Quebec Pee-Wee Hockey World Championship.
My occasional practice of going to YouTube and typing in the words "Anaheim Ducks" has dug up some more gems. First is this photo montage of J.S. Giguere, the highlight of which is the opening that includes the words, "He comed to NHL at year 2000." Not to mention, they spelled his name wrong. (I know I shouldn't make fun of the language barrier, but that was too hard to resist.) Just as inspiring is the folky Jewel soundalike song that accompanies the video. I guess it's better than "Gettin' Jiggy With It." Or maybe not.
Another beauty is this video recap of the no-less-than four times Brad May and Kris Barch of the Stars threw fists last season. Once you get past the inexplicable flying-through-the-tunnel opening, there is some good stuff. I like Johnny Ahlers on the first fight, as May is raining blows on Barch's head: "Barch has been a healthy scratch the last seven games ... and it's not a healthy look right now for him." I've always enjoyed the fact that when you become a hockey announcer, you also have to develop an ability to do play-by-play of fistfights. Also gotta love the Dallas announcer on the final fight, "It's Barch-May 4. It's on!"
Updated Sept. 4 at 1:38 p.m.
Just in case you needed anymore convincing that Teemu Selanne will play this season, there is this conversation Selanne had with the O.C. Register yesterday. Following another informal skate with fellow NHLers at Anaheim Ice, Selanne said, "I have made a decision. I’m not going to say what my decision is, but I have made a decision and I’m skating every day.”
Then he went on:
“There’s no rush,” he said. “The only thing I can say is that I haven’t been skating every day for the last four weeks just for fun. There is a reason.”
That same night, Teemu's wife asked him if he would please take out the trash. He picked up the bag, headed outside and said, "I'm not going to say if I'll take the trash out or not. Let's just say I've made a decision. I can say I haven't picked up this trash bag for fun. There is a reason."
But while Teemu's intent is clear, there is still that issue of what the Ducks are going to be able to do to pay him. Even by trading Mathieu Schneider, and shaving his $5.625 million off their current salary cap figure, the Ducks still don't have a ton of wiggle room to spend on Selanne. And let's not forget what Brian Burke told fans back in July, that the Ducks didn't even intend to be around that salary cap figure this year, but instead intend to operate at a budget of around $50 million. Right now, even though Anaheim's cap figure is thought to be around $59 million, the actual payroll is closer to $56 million (since incentive bonuses that might not be actually be reached still count against the cap). So, it may not be as simple as just trading one guy. There may be others.
Meanwhile, that whole process took a bit of a turn when Mats Sundin told reporters yesterday that he doesn't plan on deciding whether he'll come back or not for a good while. "I will not make up my mind before the season starts," Sundin said. "That's how I feel right now. Others have started playing in the middle of the season. If I would feel like retiring I would say it."
Translation: Training camp really sucks, and last year a couple of players in Anaheim gave me the idea that I could skip it and come back mid-season.
Remember when the NHL was concerned Selanne and Scott Niedermayer's "indecision" last year would become a trend with veteran players? Turns out they were right to worry.
If anyone is interested in joining the NHL fantasy league that has been started among Ducks message boarders, take a look at this.
I don't know how I missed this because it was apparently shot months ago, but Heidi Androl of Kings Vision did a feature with Jason LaBarbera of the Kings in which he taught her how to play goalie. (By the way, quickest way to turn a hot girl not-so-hot? Put her in goalie gear.) Immediately after this video was shot, the Kings signed Heidi to a four-year contract to be their backup in net.
Come on, that was too easy.
In an obvious attempt to tell the world, "I'm a complete idiot," Chad Johnson of the Bengals has now legally changed his last name to "Ocho Cinco" and will wear that on the back of his jersey. That reminds me of the episode of "Friends" when Phoebe found out you can legally change your name to anything you want and changed it to "Princess Consuela Bananahammock," so her husband Mike changed his name to "Crap Bag."
Did I just reference an episode of "Friends"?
Wait, it gets worse. I watched the first episode of the new "90210" the other night, partly out of curiosity for a show that got more hype before it even premiered than any other series I can remember. And even though I only caught the second half of the two-hour premiere, there were a couple of things I noticed:
- Jennie Garth still looks great.
- Shannen Doherty looks really bad.
- There is a character on the show who looks just like a young Joffrey Lupul (see photo at right).
The show itself? Really awful. And will I keep watching it? Did I add it to my Season Pass on my DVR?
I'd rather not say.
Updated Sept. 2 at 12:58 p.m.
Not only did Teemu Selanne return to Orange County last weekend to prepare for his kids' return to school this week, but he worked out with other NHL players at Anaheim Ice this morning. That group included Bobby Ryan, Brian Salcido, Sean O'Donnell, Chris Pronger, Todd Marchant, new Duck Steve Montador and Ducks alums Paul Kariya, Keith Carney and Joffrey Lupul. (You could make a nice playoff run with that group alone.)
I'm guessing he's not out there skating just for the fun of it. That only further indicates what has been speculated in this space for weeks: Teemu Selanne is coming back to the Ducks this year.
Again, the only holdup in signing Selanne to a Ducks contract right now is the fact that Anaheim is over the salary cap until it sheds some salary (most likely Mathieu Schneider's). Because of some complicated issues with the Collective Bargaining Agreement (which I won't get into now), Selanne can't sign for an incentive-laden contract like he did last year. (You'll recall he cashed a $1 million check as soon as he hit the ice for his 10th game after his comeback in the middle of last season.) But from what I'm hearing, Selanne has continued a trend in which, refreshingly, he is one of the few pro athletes who seemingly doesn't put a lot of stock into how much money he'll make. He just wants to play hockey. That's not to say the Ducks won't make him a legitimate offer to do that for one more season. But unlike last year, it will have to be a straight salary with no bonuses packed into the deal.
Because of those cap limitations, I'm also hearing that there is no truth to the rumor that the Ducks might be interested in Brendan Shanahan, as was reported in the New York Post over the weekend. The 39-year-old Shanahan is still unsigned, and although the Rangers have indicated they want to bring him back, they haven't made a move yet (possibly waiting to see if they can bring in Mats Sundin). Brian Burke apparently had a conversation with Shanahan, who would be a great fit in Anaheim. But it goes without saying the Ducks prefer Selanne over Shanahan, and fitting both players into the fold is not an option. So, you can dismiss that rumor. I'm guessing the Rangers will decide they can't wait on the still-wavering Sundin and lock Shanahan up for the year.
Brian Burke's latest take on Selanne: “He’s telling people around him he wants to play, but he hasn’t told me he wants to play.”
There is a Finnish newspaper story on Selanne in which he was quoted on the golf course as saying he wants to return this year. A member of the Ducks message board translated the story, including a quote from Selanne's manager Ari Lehto that came out like this: "He is not going to make decisions about his career in golf course." I ran the quote through an online translator and this is what I got: "He does not make decisions with the golf circuit in regard to his groove."
I like that one better.
Meanwhile, Montreal continues to be a speculated destination for Schneider, with some mentions of Ottawa, New Jersey and Toronto -- and even the Kings. Although I think Schneids would be a good fit 40 minutes up the road, it would be a surprising pickup for a Kings team that has apparently no interest in anyone over 25 (let alone 39).
Yahoo! Sports (must I include the exclamation point?) has a preview of the Ducks season in which they stress Anaheim's need to score more goals and commit fewer penalties. The story sums up the Ducks' hopes by saying they will finish no better than third in the Pacific and "it might be a battle to finish among the top eight in the conference." While I disagree with the latter prediction, I think ranking the Ducks third in the Pacific is actually fair (even though we're kind of biased over here). With the way both San Jose and Dallas maintained and even improved their already-outstanding rosters this summer, I think the Ducks will have to prove they're better than those two teams starting in October. But for now, you can't rank them ahead of those two.
For a much snarkier look at the Ducks' 2008-09 season, check out the Puck Daddy blog on the Yahoo! site, which includes this doozy of a backhanded compliment: "Adam Brady's blog for the Ducks' official site is propaganda, but "Bowling for Columbine" was entertaining, too."
Uh ... thanks?
It's a sad day for movie trailer fans. And a sad day for "Smokey and the Bandit" fans. Actually, on the latter, that's one of those where you go, "Jerry Reed was alive?" Answer: Not anymore.
Gord Dineen, new head coach of the Iowa Chops and an assistant last year in Portland, was interviewed on XM Radio last week. I guess this interview filled the XM hockey guys' five-minute-per-week quota of actually talking about hockey west of Minnesota. Either way, Dineen had this to say about Bobby Ryan: "There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s ready for the NHL. It’s a process with any of these young players. You can’t just go based on talent alone and he’s got oodles of talent.
"What he did for us in Portland last year in the playoffs, he basically put the team on his back. The sign of a good player, to me, is when he makes other players better. He just turned the rest of our team into a real, dynamic offensive team. I think he can carry that level of play up to the NHL. For him, it’s a matter of maybe figuring out conditioning and what it’s like to be a total professional.”
Yes, I'm 35.