By Matt Vevoda
|The Ducks went through drills and scrimmaged in front of a record crowd at THE RINKS - Anaheim ICE.
It was a long wait, more than five months in all, but the Ducks finally returned to action on Saturday at THE RINKS – Anaheim ICE for the start of training camp.
The satisfaction of the group of 50 current and future Ducks getting back to work was not only evident in the players’ jump on the ice, but also in the largest gathering of Ducks fans ever to view a training camp at the practice facility. The standing room only crowd watched intently for the better part of three hours as the team worked through drills and scrimmaged against each other.
“It’s been a long summer, too long for our hockey club,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “Our expectations and demands started today. This is the start of their job. They better take it seriously. We’re going to try to put everything we possibly can into this training camp to get this hockey club as ready as it’s ever been.”
|“It seems like every time we come into training camp, I’m trying something new with this team,” said Ryan on playing center during the first day of camp. “I’ll do it again" |
A big possible storyline surfaced right from the opening faceoff of the scrimmage, when top center Ryan Getzlaf
went up against longtime winger Bobby Ryan
in the middle circle. The coaching staff is going to take a long look at keeping Ryan, the team’s leading goal-scorer one season ago, in that position.
“The way we’re going to go to forward is we’re going to put Bobby Ryan
at center to start and he has to fail in that position,” Carlyle said. “We think it’s a position that suits him and makes him more effective.
The 23-year-old Ryan, who just signed a new five-year contract last Tuesday, said he has no more than a four or five games maximum under his belt playing center (including a couple of games late last season with Anaheim) in his hockey life, but he is ready and willing to do whatever he can to be at his best there.
“It seems like every time we come into training camp, I’m trying something new with this team,” said Ryan, who previously switched from right to left wing during his tenure with the Ducks. “I’ll do it again. I came in and saw that I was playing center and went from there. I talked to Mr. [Mike]Foligno, our new assistant coach, and told him it was a possibility that I need some video and coaching. I think they’ll be more than open to work with me on it.
|“It’s been a long summer, too long for our hockey club,” Carlyle said. “Our expectations and demands started today. This is the start of their job. They better take it seriously. We’re going to try to put everything we possibly can into this training camp to get this hockey club as ready as it’s ever been.” |
“You have a lot more responsibility to take on. You just try to get a feel for things and see where you need to fit in, where you need to be on the ice. The biggest thing is that I have to be aware of everything on all sides. Hopefully, I get comfortable with it over the next couple of days.”
Ryan seemed at ease in his new position when he fired a shot on net that created a big rebound for Trevor Smith to pot the first goal for the Black team in a scrimmage where it trailed the White squad 3-0 after one half (off goals from Kyle Chipchura, Josh Green and MacGregor Sharp).
The comeback on the Olympic-sized ice was in full force for the Black when Matt Beleskey
, who signed a two-year contract extension yesterday, nicely fed 2010 first round pick Emerson Etem
for a goal to cut the lead to one. Moments later, 2009 first round pick Peter Holland
pounced on a turnover and scored unassisted to end the scoring in a 3-3 tie.
“With the way our lineup sits now, it’s leaning more towards trying to have a balanced three units of scoring and maybe have more of a checking/energy line as the fourth,” Carlyle said. “I think our group is made up more of those types of players.”
Between the pipes, Jonas Hiller
also enters camp in another new position, as the unquestioned starter to begin the year. While he fully took the reins over in 2009-10, there was still a question last training camp of whether or not he or now-departed Jean-Sebastien Giguere would be the starter.
|“It’s not enough to play good hockey half of the year, especially in the Western Conference,” Hiller said. “You have to be ready from the first game to the 82nd. That is what we have to do this year. I hope the team learned from last year and we pick it up right off the bat.” |
“It’s easier to come here and already know what is happening and how things are going to go,” said Hiller, who noted that he feels recovered from the back spasms that caused him to miss some games late last season. “That gives you some confidence. It’s a great feeling, but I also know expectations are high. My expectations for myself are high. I know I have to be ready. There is no way you can let go just a little bit.”
The Swiss netminder was among the players and coaches who addressed the necessity for the Ducks to start the regular season strong. Last year’s club tried earnestly at the end of the season, but was never fully able to recover from a 16-19-7 record to begin the year.
“It’s not enough to play good hockey half of the year, especially in the Western Conference,” Hiller said. “You have to be ready from the first game to the 82nd. That is what we have to do this year. I hope the team learned from last year and we pick it up right off the bat.”
Said Corey Perry
, “Right from the last game last year, we began talking about it. We talked about it this morning, the coaches addressed it. If we have that strong start, we can build some momentum and push through those tough times if we have some in the middle of the season.”
|“The team is not happy with last year," Fowler said. "They are going to do everything they can to get the right guys in here. I’m just trying to do the best I can to try to make the lineup.” |
Hoping to aid in getting that accomplished are several young prospects at camp looking to crack the lineup, including 2010 first round pick, defenseman Cam Fowler
. The 18-year-old began his first training camp paired with veterans Andy Sutton and Paul Mara.
“Those guys really welcomed me and took me under their wing,” Fowler said. “They treated me just like a normal player and were talking to me on the bench.
“The team is not happy with last year. They are going to do everything they can to get the right guys in here. I’m just trying to do the best I can to try to make the lineup.”
Said Carlyle, “Obviously, with the turnover and changes that we’ve made, defense is an area that we need some young kids to step to the forefront. If Cam Fowler
can continue to do the things he does best, which is skating and moving the puck, he’ll make it difficult on us and that is what you look for a player to do.”