By Kyle Shohara
|"We did some good things this year and we made some steps forward. We made it another round in the playoffs and were one win away from moving on. We made some steps and hopefully we can continue on that."
In what always feels like the last day of school save for the joy and excitement that usually comes with it, the Ducks held their end-of-season interviews on locker room cleanout day at Honda Center. The players, most of which were freshly shaven, reflected on the regular season, postseason, the future, and the disappointment of a run cut short in their quest for the Stanley Cup.
“That was a tough loss for us, but as a group it was a great season,” said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who had his two young sons by his side during his interview. “Any time you lose in the playoffs, it’s going to be heartbreaking. To lose that Game 7 was even worse.
“But we did some good things this year and we made some steps forward. We made it another round in the playoffs and were one win away from moving on. We made some steps and hopefully we can continue on that.”
Getzlaf says there was a belief in the locker room all throughout the season that this team could be one on the path to destiny. But in the playoffs, he said, a team has to not only be good, but lucky, as well. “We did some special things, especially winning the Dallas series the way we did,” he said. “We got that feeling that it was going to be one of those years. Unfortunately it ended pretty quickly there in that Game 7.”
After that loss, Corey Perry sat in his locker room stall in full gear long after everyone else had changed. Now, three days later, Perry says it’s about using it as motivation for next year. “Any time you lose in the playoffs, especially at home in a Game 7, that’s a tough pill to swallow. It’s not a good feeling,” he said. “We could see the end of the tunnel, but we just couldn’t get there. Those are things you’re going to think about all summer. On the flip side, you have to think about how well this season went, and what we did as a team. Those are the other things you have to think of, and where this team can go.”
Head coach Bruce Boudreau said he forced himself to watch portions of Game 1 between the Kings and Blackhawks yesterday. “I sort of refused to watch the game, but you always find yourself drifting back and you’re like, Let me just see the score,” he said. “Then you watch for five minutes, and then get mad because you feel you should be the one playing. When you aren’t the one team left standing, everybody has the same attitude at the end of the year.”
Boudreau says the sting of their Game 7 loss still lingers, but knows the players, and the coaching staff, will be hungry and determined to rectify the shortcomings of this season come September. “We were the fifth-to-last team standing, and we’re talking as if we didn’t make the playoffs,” he said. “We didn’t play well in Game 7, and I can’t see me saying that about any other game in the playoffs. We hate it, but at the same time, it is what it is.
“We’re going to start in training camp, and we’re going to be hungry to go again. Everyone as a team will want to do better than they did this year. That’s why you take two months off. You get a chance to regroup and everything. Right now, there are a lot of drained people, coaches as well. We need to get our juices flowing again, and that will come by September. We should be able to do again what we did this year, I hope.”
Today it was revealed that several players were battling through injuries during the postseason, including goaltender Frederik Andersen, who suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee during Game 3 vs. LA. Andersen was close to being ready to play. “We were planning on skating within a week,” he said. “If we were still playing, I’d probably go on the ice this week. It was getting pretty close.” Andersen said he felt a pop when the injury occurred, and subsequently was unable to put any weight on that leg. “I couldn’t do anything in the butterfly position, but everything else is fine,” he said. “I can do lifting and exercises for it. Now is the time to do rehab and get even stronger for next year.”
Forward Mathieu Perreault was playing with a groin injury, while Matt Beleskey had a torn abdominal muscle. It is uncertain at this time if Beleskey needs surgery to repair the tear.
Getzlaf sustained a shoulder strain in Anaheim’s first round series vs. Dallas, forcing him to sit out Game 4. “Nothing ever heals in the playoffs. It’s about working through things, and making sure your body is ready to play,” he said. “I was able to do that for the rest of the way. It didn’t hinder my play. There was no structural damage, so we’re fine.”
Pending unrestricted free agent Jonas Hiller was one of the first players to talk to reporters this morning. The 32-year-old netminder has spent his entire NHL career (seven years) with the Ducks after signing as a free agent on May 25, 2007. Though his status with the Ducks remains uncertain, Hiller shared his thoughts on his season and what lies ahead.
“There is probably a real good chance that I’ve played my last game with the Ducks,” he said. “When I think about it, it makes me feel sad because I’ve had quite a few great years here, and it’s always weird when something like that comes to an end. You’re always hoping, but at the same time, you have to face reality. At the same time, I was fortunate to be with an organization like the Ducks for seven years. They helped me a lot to get where I am right now. It’s going to be a new challenge, and I’m excited about that too. I’m not worried too much about it right now.”
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Veteran forward Saku Koivu is also an unrestricted free agent come July 1, and has been asked throughout the year if this is, in fact, his final season. The 39-year-old just completed his 18th NHL season (fifth with Anaheim), and says he’ll take his usual time off in the summer before making a final decision on his playing career.
“It’s too early right now,” he said. “I feel like I have to get away from the hectic schedule and hockey environment for a couple weeks. You get a better perspective of how you feel and what you want to do next year. I‘ve always felt like it has worked well for me, and I’m going to do it again.”
Koivu says he’ll meet with Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray in the next few days to hear what the team’s plan is moving forward, but says both parties will have to be on the same page if he were to return for another season.
“It has to work both ways,” he said. “At this age, I don’t want to come back if I’m not wanted, like if the role is not what you value and what you’re going for. The team has to feel the same way. If they feel like they want to go in a different direction, then honesty is the word that has to be used. You have to be straight forward about it, and for me, to come back and be wanted to come back, it has to start from myself. I need the desire to push for another year. But if I feel that way, the team has to feel the same way to make things work.”