One by one, the Ducks filed into Honda Center on Friday morning for their physicals, the intensive first step toward the 2010-11 season.
Returning veterans, wide-eyed prospects and newcomers to the team all made their way from station to station set up in the lower level of the arena. Most of the activity emanated from the team’s weight room, where players went through tests with names like rundown-body composition, vertical jump, single leg squat, side plank, pull-ups, VO2 max and anaerobic max.
Around the corner, in rooms normally reserved for recording artists and circus performers, dental and eye checks were set up. And down the hall were stops for pictures and video to use for the upcoming season.
“It’s a lot of painful poking and prodding,” said Bobby Ryan
, fresh off signing a new five-year deal with Anaheim. “It’s just making sure your body is okay. You prepare all summer for this. It’s a long day, but you take it in stride. It’s something you do once a year.”
This year’s date has long been circled on the calendar for the players, a day they had been training for so long this summer, the day the countless repetitions in the gym went on full display for coaches and executives.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” said Todd Marchant, who has been through the day for close to two decades, having turned pro back in 1993. “You’re worried about how you’re going to test, how that reflects on you and how much work you did over the summer. We want to know where we stand as far as the team goes. Every year it seems like the numbers get better. Guys are getting faster, stronger and have better recovery. You have to stay at the pace of these young kids.”
With so much going on, there was little time for socializing among the players. Meeting new teammates and catching up on the time spent away had to wait for training camp, slated to begin tomorrow morning at The Rinks – Anaheim Ice.
“On a day like today, you don’t really get to see many people,” Marchant said. “You see them in passing. Tomorrow will be the first day when we’re all on the ice and competing.”
Echoed fellow veteran Saku Koivu
, “Everybody is excited to be back here, but you’re never having a lot of fun with physicals. It’s a pretty demanding day. Tomorrow, the real camp kicks off. That is what everybody has been waiting for.”
It’s been more than five months since they last took the ice as a unit, and the disappointment of not making the playoffs last season still lingers in the minds of the Ducks. Finally, the time to get back on the ice together for a new campaign is no longer far away, merely a handful of hours.
“A year ago, at this point, everybody was saying great things about our team and how far we were going to go in the playoffs.,” Koivu said. “We didn’t do as well and didn’t make the playoffs. That was a huge disappointment for our team. We have to be hungry. I don’t mind the situation where people are kind of counting us not making the playoffs. Hopefully, we can surprise a lot of people this year.”
Said Ryan, “There is a pretty good group of guys in this locker room. A lot of guys are here to win. The character is certainly there. We just have to put it together for 82 games.”