Five long months after their 2007-08 season came to a disappointing end, the Ducks finally got back to work Saturday with the open of training camp at Anaheim ICE.
Fans came out in droves for the start of camp, completely filling the stands at the Ducks’ practice facility to catch their first glimpse of the 2008-09 version of the team. After an hour of on-ice drills, the Ducks held an intrasquad scrimmage, with one 45-minute half played on the NHL rink and the other played on the Olympic-sized rink.
After departing to the dressing room following team drills, the Ducks returned to the ice a short while later for their scrimmage. A collective roar burst from the crowd with the sight of Teemu Selanne, who called the ovation “awesome” and “a nice feeling”.
In training camp on a pro tryout agreement until a standard contract can be completed, Selanne looked as smooth as ever skating on a line with Ryan Carter and prospect Logan MacMillan.
Teemu Selanne was on the ice for the Ducks, still officially on a pro tryout agreement.
“I don’t believe that you can just turn on a switch when the season starts,” Selanne said. “You have to work hard all summer and in training camp to get all the little things working.”
With the combatants separated in white and black jerseys, the white team prevailed for a 2-1 victory behind goals from Corey Perry and Rob Niedermayer.
“The first day is always the culmination of anticipation from a coaching standpoint,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “You like to see your players and what kind of energy level they bring back. I thought for our group, they worked extremely hard. There was a good pace to the scrimmage.”
The most prominent free acquisition for the Ducks in the offseason, center Brendan Morrison, participated in team drills but sat out the scrimmage. The former Vancouver Canuck is bouncing back from a torn ACL in his right knee that required surgery in April and caution is being taken in his return to contact.
“We talked it over with the trainers and coaches and we just think that there is no rush right now,” Morrison said. I’ve been skating for a month and it has felt good. I don’t foresee it being an issue here. I’ll get into a scrimmage here within the next couple of days.”
“I haven’t talked to one guy who hasn’t been happy to be back. It was a little bit longer summer and I think it showed out on the ice. Guys are in a little better shape and more energized coming out. It’s exciting to see.”- Ryan Getzlaf
In his first training camp not with Vancouver in eight seasons, Morrison said he had a flood of emotions upon taking the ice with the Ducks. “It’s been awhile since I’ve been on a different team,” Morrison said. “You’re nervous, but excited. You want to come in and make a good impression. I think this is a team that can do a lot of special things this year and I want to be a part of that.”
For the Ducks returning from last season, training camp is welcomed as the end to a long offseason after falling to Dallas in six games of the Western Conference Semifinals.
“It’s good to be back,” Carter said.“Guys are eager to get back at it and prove something this year. That’s the mentality around here. We’re happy to be here and get it underway.”
Said Ryan Getzlaf, “I haven’t talked to one guy who hasn’t been happy to be back. It was a little bit longer summer and I think it showed out on the ice. Guys are in a little better shape and more energized coming out. It’s exciting to see.”
Prospect Matt Stafanishion scored for the black squad on a pass from Bobby Ryan, who made a nifty move near the goal crease to get Stafanishion the puck in the second half of the scrimmage.
In addition to getting the players in shape for the season, another purpose for training camp is determining which of the 54 players on the ice today will be on the opening night roster.
“Our group did the necessary preparation for training camp,” Carlyle said. “Now, it’s time to do some evaluation. We’ve got 50-plus skaters and it’s always a difficult choice.”