The last time I went to Ducks training camp the team was still called the Mighty Ducks and the coach was Mike Babcock. It was the start of the fabled 2002-2003 season that would end in a Stanley Cup game seven. Obviously, I must have been the good luck charm that propelled the team to the finals when very few hockey writers thought they'd even make the playoffs.
This season begins a new Scott Neidermayer-less era for the Ducks. Expectations of success are low, just as they were in '02-'03. So, I decided to grace Anaheim Ice with my presence for not just one, but TWO days of camp in the hopes that my aura would inspire my Ducklings to prove everyone wrong.
Robby had Saturday covered. I decided to go on Sunday. (By the way, I am a CHAMP for going on Sunday. Why, you ask? Because I went to one of my best friend's wedding on Saturday night and I drank...A LOT.) I met up with Arthur, and life was good. On Monday, I was thrice blessed to be accompanied by Arthur, the man, the myth, the blogger, Earl Sleek, and my dad, who attended that '02-'03 camp with me.
I've got the two days mixed up in my head. After the jump, my general observations from my time at training camp...-- If Sidney Crosby took steroids and bulked up, he'd look like Troy Bodie. Don't ask how I came up with that conclusion, because I'm not really sure.
-- Aaron Voros, Stephane Veilleux and Andy Sutton are legit. The three of them were busting their asses through the entire practice. It was widely noted that Veilleux got into a tussle with Sbisa on Saturday. Well, on Monday's scrimmage, Ryan Carter got his stick a little high on Sutton. Sutton naturally took exception and started to get into it with Carter. Voros stepped in and started to chirp at the very tall Sutton. The refs broke it up before any blows were thrown, but I loved the intensity of the new guys.
-- I also love the fact that Earl has a complete man-crush on Stephane Veilleux (who hasn't got a secure roster spot yet). Every time Veilleux did anything, all Arthur and I heard was "VEILLLEEEEUUUUUUUUUU" from Earl.
-- I made brief eye contact with Joffrey Lupul and my hair did not burst into flames. 99% sure he has no idea what I look like anyways.
-- As we were crossing from the NHL ice to the Olympic ice, I noticed that Coach Carlyle was walking behind me, right next to my dad. What did I do? NOTHING! I started walking faster. That man frightens me. Things haven't been the same since we broke up.
-- On Sunday, I could tell that Bobby Ryan was frustrated with himself at center. He kept doing the look to sky in disgust each time he lost a faceoff or missed an assignment. I will be honest, I left thinking he was doing his best impression of "pre-teen Jen" when she didn't want to do something and showing her obvious displeasure to her parents by huffing and puffing until something changed. Carlyle made it very clear that Bobby would not be moved from center unless he failed miserably, and Bobby has been known to display "butttt mommmmm" looks when he wasn't happy (like being moved down a couple lines last season until he was finally reunited with Perry and Getzlaf).
-- On Monday, there was a totally new Bobby on the ice. No more was he sulking and brooding as he practiced. He was taking extra draws and re-running plays. He was communicating with his teammates and specifically veteran center, Saku Koivu. I saw a new desire in the kid to live up to that $25.5 million dollar deal. My guess for the brief pitty party? He finally found something he was NOT naturally good at (like skating backwards at NHL speed, something he doesn't do often) and he couldn't just avoid it. Acceptance is the first step to recovery, right? As practice winded down and the only players left on the ice were the rookies and new guys, Bobby was still out there taking shots, working on draws, and doing a little coaching with Sbisa and Veilleux.
-- What I am about to write is not at all classy. Emerson Etem looks like he's about to take a dump when he skates. He crouches into this weird squatted cannonball position to gain speed. Arthur told me he was lowering his center of gravity. Whatever works, I guess.
-- Cam Fowler is a good skater, but he has A LOT of work to do to be the actual heir to Scott Neidermayer. He looks every bit of 18 years old. He's tall and skinny, and is dwarfed by the big guys like Sutton and Parros. While Cam had his slick moments on skates, I thought Sbisa was better. They weren't the best though. That goes to Selanne.
-- Do you think it's awkward for Ryan Carter to go to camp after being placed on waivers and not picked up? It's like being dumped by a co-worker only to have to see them at work every day, acting as if nothing happened.
-- I met Daniel. He looks nothing like what I envisioned him to look like.
-- I am SO HAPPY Corey Perry is on my team and we don't have to play against him. Even against his fellow Ducks he was taking runs at people, sucker punching Dan Sexton in the head, and crashing into the goaltender in the scrimmage. Some of you call it douchey behavior, I call it love.
-- Igor Bobkov's name sounds like a Bond villain when said with a fake Russian accent.
-- Finally, I would be the worst hockey player ever. Aside from not being able to skate, I had zero idea why they were doing certain drills and what those drills were trying to accomplish. It was pretty cool to be there, though. I got my hockey fix in when I so desperately needed it. (Ok, ok, and my Getzlaf fix, too).