“Catching Up With…” is an ongoing offseason feature in which we check in with Ducks players to gain an insight on their summer, thoughts on the upcoming season and more.
Today we feature Ben Lovejoy, also known as “Rev” or “Lovey” in and around Honda Center. The humble and well-spoken New Hampshire native is spending his summer in Enfield, NH with his wife and seventh-month old daughter, Lila, who was born on New Year’s Eve in Orange County.
How is the summer treating you?
I’ve had an awesome summer. It’s been a lot of fun. We brought our daughter [Lila] back home to the East Coast for the first time. A lot of people have wanted to come hang out and not so much see me or my wife, but to meet and hang out with Lila.
How has fatherhood been?
It’s been amazing. During the season, she’s definitely always on my mind, but my focus is absolutely elsewhere. I do everything I can to concentrate on hockey. I don’t neglect her, but she is very much my first priority in the summer. It’s been a lot of fun to reintroduce myself and spend a lot of time together as a family. It’s something we weren’t able to do quite as much during the season.
Your daughter was born on New Year’s Eve and that night you played against the Sharks. In that game, you made a diving stop on Joe Thornton that prevented a sure-goal, and then you guys went back the other way and scored. Looking at the schedule, San Jose comes to town on New Year’s Eve. What can we expect from you this time?
That was one of the first dates I looked at. I think it’s very cool that we’re playing the Sharks again. We’re at home and it’ll be my daughter’s first birthday. It’ll be a special day for her, but definitely a special day for me and my wife. That was arguably the most memorable game of my season. It was such a good day in my life. I was so happy that we were able to beat that team, and I was able to play. Everything worked out perfectly that day. Hopefully, we can make this December 31st just as special, and beat the Sharks again.
Take us through what a typical summer day is like in the life of Ben Lovejoy.
I wake up at 6:45 every morning. I go to a gym named Wayne’s World. I have a trainer that I’ve worked out with for eight summers. I’m usually back home by around 11 in the morning and take over for Lila. I still call it babysitting even though it’s my own kid. My wife goes to get some sort of workout, and then we often have lunch together and spend the rest of the day hanging out. We are lucky enough to live on a very nice lake. Our house is about 12 feet from the water. We have a dock and a boat. In the past, we would do a lot of water sports, like wakeboarding, paddle boarding and water skiing. This summer has absolutely changed. We don’t do nearly as many water sports, but it’s been a great summer. I’ve spent a lot of time with my daughter.
The last week I’ve started to skate more and more. I’m really starting to get back into things. August 1st for me is usually a time where you go from skating once or twice a week to three or four. I really start focusing on the season. It’s been a great summer, but I’m absolutely starting to get the itch to come back and get competitive. I’m excited to start playing some hockey again.
|"This is our time to win. We felt we had all the pieces last year, and this year we’ve upgraded even more. From Day 1, I expect – and I know the whole team expects – to win." |
Are you still playing in a men’s league with your brother and other Dartmouth guys?
I am. Every week I play in what’s called the “College Pro-Am.” We’re two-time defending champions and we have our final regular season game tonight. It’s always fun. It allows me to have a competitive game once a week. The talent level has gotten better every summer. We’ve had the same team the past four or five summers. It’s been a great group of guys. Some guys are starting to graduate and become older college hockey players, and hopefully they’ll go pro someday soon. It’s fun for me to stay competitive and stay sharp. I’m able to try moves during these games that Bruce would absolutely frown upon me making.
Have you kept in touch with any of your Ducks teammates?
Yes. I had a great time at Nick Bonino’s wedding. I know he’s no longer a Duck, but he was special guy. He had seven or eight Ducks at his wedding, so we were able to hang out and spend some time and celebrate him getting married. And it was almost like saying goodbye. Now he’s one of our arch enemies. [Laughs]. He’s a good player who will be missed in the locker room. It was fun to spend some time with some of the guys at his wedding.
The Ducks made several offseason moves, including the acquisition of Ryan Kesler from Vancouver. What were your thoughts when you heard the news?
I think that everybody’s thought on the team was that the Ducks are all in. We were absolutely disappointed with how last season ended. Bob Murray went out and got the best player he possibly could, a move that will absolutely make us a better team. This puts pressure on the players. This is our time to win. We felt we had all the pieces last year, and this year we’ve upgraded even more. From Day 1, I expect – and I know the whole team expects – to win.
At the same time, it must’ve been tough knowing Bonino and Luca Sbisa were going the other way.
Those two guys are very special individuals. They’re both great human beings, great guys in the locker room and great hockey players. But this is how it works. We will miss them on- and off the ice, and I wish them nothing but the best. Murray and a lot of people – including myself – feel like Kesler can be a difference-maker for our team. Everybody is excited to add a piece like that to the lineup. He’s so dangerous on the offensive side, but also so good defensively. He’ll make us even harder to play against. That’s so important, given the division and conference we’re in.
Looking ahead, what excites you about the upcoming season?
Everything. Training camp is a difficult time. It’s a lot of work, but I’m excited to get back and be competitive. We all left last season with an awful taste in our mouth, and it’s still there. We are desperate to get back on the ice and play that first game, that 40th game and that 82nd game. I want to get back in the swing of things. I’m ready to go. I love summer, but I’m over it. I’m ready for training camp and that first game. I’m ready to get competitive again.
You get to face your old team right off the bat on Opening Night. Although you made your return to Pittsburgh last season, does this game carry extra significance for you?
It was last year, but this is another game for me now. There are very few people from when I was a Penguin. Times have changed there. It’ll be cool to go back because I still know a lot of people in that city, and I have a lot of good friends and good memories. I got the butterflies out with that game last year. This will be another game against a very good opponent with two of the best players in the world. I can never say I’m looking forward to matching up against Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but I’ll be excited because it’s the first game.
|"There are a lot of things to do in Southern California, and Ducks fans choose to spend their time on us. It’s such an honor to play in front of a packed Honda Center. It’s so cool that we live in such a great place and there’s still so much passion for the Anaheim Ducks." |
You guys were a game away from advancing to the Conference Finals last year. What needs to change in order for the Ducks to take that next step?
We had an incredibly successful regular season, but we didn’t play our best in Game 7 when it mattered most. We can talk all we want about being really good to start the season, or being really good down the stretch, but it won’t matter until it comes down to crunch time. Guys will have learned from the mistakes we made in the playoffs. We need to have more of a killer instinct. We need to knock teams out when we get the chance. We’ve had that problem the last two seasons. We can say all the right things, but until we do it, it doesn’t matter.
Lastly, we’ve talked about the fan support and how much of a boost they give you on the ice. Why should Ducks fans be excited about this team and what’s to come?
Growing up in New England, I’m surrounded by Boston Bruins fans who think they’re the most passionate fans in the NHL. They’re great, but often times they don’t give Ducks fans the respect they deserve. I defend Ducks fans all the time. I think they’re so passionate and so into the game. There are a lot of things to do in Southern California, and Ducks fans choose to spend their time on us. It’s such an honor to play in front of a packed Honda Center. It’s so cool that we live in such a great place and there’s still so much passion for the Anaheim Ducks.
There is a lot to cheer for this year. We have two high-end superstars in their prime who are playing the best hockey of their careers. We have young guys who are on the verge of superstardom who are going to be impact players. We play a fun game with so much speed. It’s fun to be a part of and fun to watch. Everybody is just so excited to get back to Anaheim and get back to work.