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Face-Off Fest: Bob Murray Speaks and an Outdoor Jersey Update

The always loquacious General Manager of the Anaheim Ducks, Bob Murray spoke to the fans last night at the annual Face-Of Fest for season ticket holders.

Bruce Bennett

Last night was the annual Face-Off Fest event for Ducks season ticket holders to get autographs, tours of the building, skate on the ice and much, much more. For the most part, it was the same as every other year, so I won't go into all the fascinating details of waiting in line for autographs. However, the added feature this season was an introductory interview between radio play by play announcer, Steve Carroll and GM Bob Murray.

It caused some logistical problems, as everyone was funneled into the arena before being allowed to go back outside for the majority of the activities. But there were some interesting tidbits, so without further ado here's my transcript of the conversation:

On the festivities with the original 1993-94 team:

Henry and Susan, it was great that they brought everybody back. I think those guys had a great time and deservedly so. I think any group that starts a franchise, it's a very difficult situation when you're coming into a city and you're getting all the guys from different places and that club got us off to a good start here and things are very healthy in Anaheim at the moment.

On remembering history as a franchise:

Definitely [it is important to remember the history of the franchise] obviously myself coming from the Chicago Blackhawk organization, it's ... as one guy, an old defense partner of mine used to say, ‘Once you've played for them, they kind of tattoo on your rear end the emblem of the organization.' So it's something you're proud of for the rest of your life and we're growing this one here and we're finally starting to ... you know, people ask me about the alumni and how it's going to go.

Well we're finally starting to turn the page here where we've been an organization long enough that I think you're going to start to see it grow bigger and bigger. I mean, certain players are going to retire and it's going to get bigger and we're going to do more and it's very important for the players and it's important for the city and the fans that support them.

On the start to the season so far:

I think that actually we were fortunate that Colorado kicked our butts, because that woke us up. Always when something like the Colorado game happens you wait and see how your team responds. As management, we were very anxious to see how we would perform the next few nights and I have to tell you, we're very happy with them. We're proud of them and the last two nights we've played fast. We're playing exciting hockey and we've just got to shore up a few defensive moments, but we're playing exciting hockey right now.

On the importance of the start to games:

That first shift, you know that first couple of shifts in every hockey game sets the tone for the rest of the hockey game. They didn't score the first goal it was Getzy's line that scored the first goal, but the Koivu line the shift they had to start the hockey game set the tone for the hockey game and those shifts are important. I'm sure we'll rotate as the year goes on, you'll see different lines starting hockey games and we hope they all get us off to good starts. We feel all four lines can do that for us.

On Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen and the injuries early in the season:

They just, they've even surprised us. You always worry about your boys, your young guys when you draft them because they're like your kids. You look at them that way and you worry about them and ‘Are they ready?' ‘Are you putting them in a position to fail?' because you never want that to happen, because everything is confidence, everything is mental and it's how you approach the game. Those two young guys have played very well on defense and young forwards have played well. We're banged up. You go down in that locker room now and it's a M*A*S*H unit.

I was just down there. You've got Cogliano down there today, you've got Palmieri down there working out, you've got Beleskey working out, Souray's working out, Sbisa's working out. We lost the young man Noesen, who had a real good training camp, was off to a great start in Norfolk, but we've lost him for the season and he's down there. So I'm down there, we've got a bunch of guys on the ice and we've got a M*A*S*H unit working out.

So, it's good for your hockey team though, because if we can continue to play well and get some points, it just makes this team deeper. It makes everybody trust each other more, which is very important.

On injuries opening up opportunities for other players:

Sometimes when people get injured, other people take their jobs and you have to fight to get your job back. Again, opportunities are out there on our hockey team and young men are responding very well.

On Vatanen and Lindholm:

It's interesting because Sami and Hampus are two very different people, totally as you well know already. They're different guys that act differently, from different cultures and backgrounds.

[Vatanen] had such great success in Finland in the elite league over there. I think as a 19 or 20-year-old, he was the best defenseman in the league and he kind of took it for granted that he was going to make the National Hockey League easily. Well, we've had to convince him and had to show him that he had to change a few of his habits off the ice. He's working harder, he's looking after his body better, he just did a little extra skating out there. Sami is a different guy and he has all the ability. He just had to learn, coming from Finland, that the game is tougher here, faster here.

He's had to change whereas Hampus, being as you can see he's tall, he's kind of gangly, he's only 19-years-old, he can still play in the World Juniors this year. With him it's a question of learning... it's hard for me to describe this, but when you get the puck as a defenseman, sensing and knowing when it's time, ‘OK I have to move this puck quickly and get myself out of danger. I have to get my team out of danger, myself out of danger,' and then preparing yourself to get hit.

Because you get hit, and he has to prepare himself, not always to take the hit, you know in our game you brace yourself and you hit back. He's going to get bigger and stronger as time comes along, he's only 19, and as a guy comes to get you, you give it back to him. He's got these little things to learn, and the funny thing is he's catching on much quicker than we thought. He's getting it. He's getting when to sense ‘OK, 1... 2... 3... somebody's going to be coming at me.' And that's what goes on in your mind, and Hampus is getting it.

On Mathieu Perreault:

Very, very happy [with his first couple of outings], Obviously we had insider information from Bruce and Bobby Woods and my scouts have always liked him, all the way back to our amateur guys, because we have a book all the way back to when he played junior, on all these guys. He's always been an energetic, good forechecker and he creates offense.

We needed somebody to play with Teemu and Silfverberg, or whoever plays on that line by the way, to create some offense. We thought that maybe Peter Holland might do it this year. We gave him some games in camp and it didn't happen. There wasn't offense there and we need another offensive line. We needed somebody else to come in and create and so far so good, they've created every night. I mean, last night they didn't get any points, I think Teemu got one, but they still created. There was still chances when they were on the ice to score goals.

On Jakob Silfverberg:

As everybody forgets with Jakob is that I'm still getting memos, we get memos as you count down on entry level contracts how many days before they need to have waivers, Jakob's still got games left before he needs waivers. So, he's still a very, very young man. He's smart with and without the puck, you never see him on the wrong side of the puck. You never see him cheat to the offensive side of the puck. You see him do smart things with the puck at the blue lines. The little things that are very difficult to teach, he does naturally.

On Emerson Etem:

Well, you hate to burden a guy, but don't want to say too... He's such a professional. You take this injury, just now. He gets a bad injury in San Jose in training camp, stupid play by Torres, but he gets the injury and the guy's just so professional. He beats everybody else back in the lineup and just wants to play so badly. He's got a passion and he's hungry to play and the sky is the limit and he's fun to watch.

On Devante Smith-Pelly's start in Norfolk after being called up yesterday:

Great start; played very well in the first four games down there, couple of shorthanded goals. He's another guy, again, we're trying to get to understand that as a Junior, scoring 50 goals is different in Junior, scoring 50 goals in Junior than how it is as a pro. We're trying to get Devante to understand what it takes to be a professional. We're working on some things with him and we're making great strides now, and hopefully they continue. As you can see, we're banged up and when you have a guy like him, that you can bring into your lineup and really not miss a beat, it's a good thing and he's going to be a part of this organization for a long time.

On the schedule: [Steve Carroll notes that approximately 60% of the team's road games will be complete by mid December, they'll only have 16 road games from Jan 1 to the end of the year and one road game in a particular seven week section due to the Olympic break.]

That schedule, when they first gave it to us, that third road trip, I can't believe they did that to us. [sandwiching a three game/five day home stand between a 15 day/eight game trip and a seven day/four game trip] but it was because of buildings out east and this, and that. It's always got to do with the east, it's never worried about the west. We don't even exist out here.

But the positive there, and as I talked about Henry and Susan when we had our expectations for the year and I've just said to them, ‘Hey, if we can get to Christmas and we're in good shape at Christmas, the schedule is then in our favor.' So that's the focus, be in good shape at Christmas, keep playing because we're going to have bumps and bruises and get there and then the schedule is in our favor and we'll take it from there.

On Hybrid Icing:

This is a real easy answer. After about four games in exhibition they polled the General Managers on a vote on it and mine was no. So, can't stand it!

On League wide developments to start the season:

I think there are a few teams off to just awful starts, which may lead to things happening around the league much sooner than they normally happen. I just get the sense tonight, there were a couple of games tonight I was kind of paying attention to... teams are off to bad starts, that's the one thing. The other thing, it looks like Brendan Shanahan may be looking for some things this year. So, I've mentioned to our guys, be careful what you do out there, because he looks like he's trying to settle things down early here. Those are the only things that come to my mind quickly.


In other news, our mostly retired friend Robby was able to have a chat with a team official about the Ducks' jerseys for the Coors Light Stadium Series, or as we call it the "We Don't Have a Winter, Classic." Naturally there wasn't a lot of information to be given, but she did say that the Kings will be wearing grey and the Ducks jersey "looks like a Ducks jersey," as opposed to the Kings'. Robby said that while she didn't confirm, he gets the feeling that orange will at least be heavily featured on the Ducks' jerseys.

What was confirmed? The jersey will be a unique, never before seen design. The Ducks will only wear theirs for that one game and the jerseys will NOT be available for purchase before Christmas. That seems like a missed opportunity to me, but what do I know about marketing?

Final note from Robby: Teemu was still signing autographs for his mile long line of fans at 9pm, half an hour after he was supposed to be pulled away, because he is the best ever.