By Kyle Shohara
Close Is Not Good Enough
That is the new slogan as the Anaheim Ducks opened their 2015 Training Camp at THE RINKS – Anaheim ICE on Friday.
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With 64 skaters attending camp, three separate sessions were held from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
A busy offseason re-tooling of the roster gave fans a chance to catch the team’s newest players on the ice, including forwards Carl Hagelin, Shawn Horcoff, Mike Santorelli and Chris Stewart.
“You look at the lineup and you know there are a lot of good players,” said Hagelin, who skated on a line with Stewart and Ryan Getzlaf in the first session of the day. “I think we’re going to make some damage this year. I’m extremely excited. This is a great organization and team.”
Hagelin joins fellow Swedes Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg. The foursome immediately gelled in the days leading up to training camp.
“When you’re a new guy, it makes the transition that much easier when you know a guy,” Hagelin said of Silfverberg. The duo helped their country win silver at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Stewart, a former first-round draft pick (18th overall) in the 2006 NHL Draft, signed a one-year contract with the Ducks on July 11. The hulking power forward, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 231 pounds, split the 2014-15 season with the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild, collecting 14 goals, 36 points and 88 penalty minutes in 81 games.
“It’s been a long offseason, so getting back here, it’s like a kid on Christmas,” Stewart said. “I’m excited. At the end of the day, this team was one game away from going to the Stanley Cup Final. This is great opportunity for me.”
The 27-year-old calls this a “fresh start” after spending the first half of last season on a team clearly in a rebuild. “You can tell by the way everyone approaches every day,” Stewart said, of the Ducks. “It’s business. Coming to a team like this is refreshing.”
And if the Toronto native needs any additional motivation or inspiration, Stewart says he’ll look no further than the team’s leaders.
“The more elite guys you see, the more you get to see why they’re elite,” he said. “The first thing that comes to mind is work ethic. The work they put in on the ice and in the gym is contagious.”
NEW MEMORIES FOR BIEKSA
After spending 12 years in the Vancouver Canucks organization, 34-year-old Kevin Bieksa is now a new face in a new city on a new team. It’s a new chapter for the rugged defenseman, who joins longtime friend and teammate Ryan Kesler in Anaheim.
“You battle for so long, usually there are teams that are going to want you on their side,” Bieksa said earlier today. “These guys were at the top of my list when I was looking for a new team. We always knew it was going to be a tough, physical team. It’s fun to be on this side now.”
Kesler was all smiles when asked about being reunited with the man known as “Juice.” “We grew up together in this league,” Kesler said. “To be a year apart was weird. For him to get traded here was awesome. We’re both excited and happy to be on the same team again.
“He just brings that leadership, accountability and meanness. He’s going to be good for this group.”
Training camp continues with scrimmages scheduled for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. In addition to the three scrimmages, the camp schedule includes group practices on Saturday from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Sunday from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. and Monday from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. THE RINKS - Anaheim ICE.
Saturday, Sept. 19: Group B & C Scrimmage 12 p.m. on NHL rink; group practices from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 20: Group A & C Scrimmage 12 p.m. on NHL rink; group practices from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 21: Group A & B Scrimmage 12 p.m. on NHL rink; group practices from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.