On Tuesday, Jan. 17, Mighty Ducks players, coaches and staff made a historic appearance on Ottawa’s famous Rideau Canal. The longest outdoor skating rink in the World, the Ducks were believed to be the first NHL team outside of the Senators to hold a scrimmage on the canal. The canal (five miles long) only opens for public skating when the ice is several feet thick and temperatures remain below zero Celsius.
The Ducks gathered at the team hotel and split into two teams, before boarding the bus and heading to the canal. Players were surprised to find 500+ fans and hordes of media waiting for the team upon their arrival, some fans apparently sneaking out of work on a weekday afternoon, where temperatures fell to minus 10 degrees Celsius.
“I thought it would just be us out here,” said Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer.
Thanks to the National Capitol Commission of Canada (NCC), a makeshift rink had been setup and roped-off privately for the team. Fans and a packed media contingent gathered around the ice surface as the players dressed in winter gear and pulled out tennis balls to play a game of “shinny,” with the Parliament Building serving as a picturesque backdrop.
“This is the root of the game of hockey,” said head coach Randy Carlyle, who skated a regular shift in the game. “It’s a day to bond as a team and have some fun.”
Teemu Selanne and Todd Marchant coached the two teams, with assistant coach Newell Brown and Massage Therapist James Partida playing goaltender. J.S. Giguere even scored a goal playing forward.
“I had a bunch of chances and finally got one,” Giguere said enthusiastically.
At the end of the 45-minute scrimmage, the Ducks gathered for a team photo and thanked the fans in attendance with a lap around the configured rink.
“A great team-bonding day, hopefully it carries over to the Ottawa game Thursday,” said Teemu Selanne (Anaheim beat the Senators 4-3 two days later). “Our goalie (Newell Brown) was the MVP, but our shifts were too long,” he quipped.