On Saturday, the Ducks held their 11th annual Wild Wingers Kids Club Party at Knott’s Berry Farm. If you’ve never heard of this, it’s basically an end-of-the-year gathering at Knott’s for any members of the Wild Wingers Kids Club. Members get in for free and parents or other guests can get in for a discounted rate. You basically get cheap (or free) admission to the park and starting at 1-ish, select players answer questions from kids in the crowd, and then they sign for fans with the appropriate colored papers (received upon entry).
The crowd at this year's event was smaller than it had been in previous years.
This was probably my third or fourth year at the party, and it’s always a good way to see some of the players’ personalities and get some autographs. This year’s party featured Cam Fowler, Kyle Palmieri, Emterson Etem, Peter Holland, and Kids Club captain Francois Beauchemin.
Although the Q&A was scheduled to start at 1pm, things got off a little late as Etem and Holland showed up late. The festivities even began before they arrived, with MC John Ahlers and assistant Wild Wing killing time until the guys could show up. What follows are some of the more interesting notes from throughout the day.
Trevor was really excited when the players started to arrive.
- Attendance seemed to be a little thin this year. The Calico Square wasn’t as congested as previous years and we ended up cranking through the autograph lines pretty quickly. Ahlers (and the Ducks’ Twitter account) both claimed the event was sold out, but I’ve definitely seen it more full in previous years. Either way, I’m not about to complain about fewer people.
- During the player introductions, Beauch got the biggest reaction from the first set, while Etem got a pretty huge reaction when he was finally introduced (Holland and Etem showed up about ten minutes after things kicked off).
This year's party featured Etem, Holland, Beauchemin, Palmieri, and Fowler.
- The players trolled Kyle Palmieri throughout the entire Q&A. Ahlers mentioned Etem’s fight and he said "After I saw Palms get high sticked, I knew he wasn’t going to stick up for himself, so…" Later on, in response to a question about when they ever get tired, Holland said "Yeah, but only when Palms turns it over and I have to back-check." I LOL’ed pretty hard at both of these. Kyle did give it back to Holland at one point, saying he only ever went top shelf when his only other option was "Pete on the back-door."
- When asked about the fight, Etem said it wasn’t his "first rodeo" and that he had a couple bruises and scrapes on his hands this morning. Crowd went nuts when Ahlers mentioned the fight and was tickled with Etem pretty much throughout the whole experience.
Cam always seems to legitimately enjoy doing these sorts of events.
- When the players were going through their favorite teams growing up, Cam got some shit for saying the Red Wings. He said "yeah, but I grew up in Michigan, so…" and Beauch also messed with the crowd by saying "the Kings!" before going back and talking about the Canadiens. Before Etem gave his answer, he started with "I don’t want anyone to throw any funnel cakes at me, but…" before admitting the Kings to a rain of boos. He did follow it up with "It’s all Ducks now," but I was amused all the same.
- When asked what the players like to do in their off-time, Fowler, Palms, and Holland all pretty much said the same two activities: golfing and the beach. Beauch said that when he’s not playing hockey with the Ducks, he plays hockey at home with his son, or goes to his games and practices. It’s basically hockey all the time for him. Etem’s answer intrigued me. He said that he was probably the worst golfer on the team and that as a SoCal native, he prefers to surf and even dabble in art at times.
This man really does deserve the Norris.
- The other interesting answer came from Beauch on the subject of who the Ducks would like to face in the playoffs. I suppose I should have expected it, but Beauch said "anyone." He then went on to say that the team could beat anyone when they play like they’re supposed to and cited the team’s three victories over Chicago, which got a healthy cheer.
- After the Q&A finished, the players broke out into separate groups. Beauch signed by himself while Fowler and Holland signed together and Etem and Palms manned the last table. When I got up to Beauch, I praised him for his great play this year and asked him if the thought he would win the Norris. He looked at me and said something to the effect of "No, I don’t think they’re watching us." I felt bad for asking. He clearly knows he’s playing out of his mind, but also knows that the hockey world largely ignores Anaheim.
If you have kids, you should really go to the Kids Club party.
- When I got to Cam’s table, I didn’t have much to say to Holland and I told Cam I was glad he signed the extension. Finally, when I got to Etem’s table, I told him that the Anaheim Calling folks all loved him and that we thought the other GMs should be ashamed for letting him slip so far in the draft (he seemed to like this). I then congratulated him for his play on Friday and asked him what his regular number would be. He told me it would be 96 and I left him by saying that he should get more PP time.
- Overall, a good Kids Club. The talent at this year’s party was better than previous years and the guys clearly had fun ribbing Palms. I say this pretty much every time I go, but it really is worth checking out, especially if you have a little one.