Considering it's late June and the start of the hockey season is almost four months away, it was a pretty eventful day here at Ducks headquarters. This morning came the official release of the 2012-13 schedule, which has the Ducks opening the season at home against the Sharks. This afternoon came an announcement that had been speculated for the past several days -- that the Ducks have changed their AHL affiliation to the Norfolk (Va.) Admirals.
First the schedule, which rolls out with four straight games at home against San Jose, Dallas, Carolina and Edmonton. Unlike last year, there are no mammoth eight-game road trips, the longest being four different five-gamers. The first of those is an intriguing one in late October/early November, when the Ducks hit Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Philly and Ottawa. The latter two being back-to-back weekend games with 10 a.m. Pacific puck drop times (love that). That's followed by the longest homestand of the season, a six-gamer against Vancouver, NYI, Buffalo, Columbus, Tampa and LA.
Speaking of LA, the Ducks end the season against them at Staples Center on April 13 and host them here at Honda Center on November 18, January 2 and March 6. Meanwhile, we have the traditional day-after-Thanksgiving matinee against Chicago on November 23 and the now-traditional New Year's Eve game against Colorado on ... you know when New Year's Eve is.
Here's the rest of the schedule, which includes a link for downloading it to your Outlook calendar, iPhone and more.
Now, the AHL affiliation. The Admirals were admitted to the AHL as an expansion franchise for the 2000-01 season, and they were affiliated with the Blackhawks until 2007. They were the Lightning's affiliate the last five years, including this season when they went a ridiculous 43-3 in their last 46 games (including 28 in a row) and rolled to the Calder Cup championship.
And they have some great fans as well, as attested to in this Puck Daddy piece as well as this video in which the crowd helps an 8-year-old anthem singer when the sound in the arena failed during the song.
Trent Yawney, who took over as associate head coach of the Ducks' affiliate in Syracuse in January last season, led the Crunch to a 15-3-1-1 record in the last 20 games and a berth in the playoffs. Yawney will be the coach in Norfolk, where he previously helmed the Admirals from 2000-05. His 24 years of experience in pro hockey include serving as a Ducks scout in 2007-08 and part of last season. Marty Wilford, who was an assistant coach with Syracuse last season, will serve that same role in Norfolk.
The Admirals play in a pretty cool-looking arena called Norfolk Scope, which happens to feature the world's largest concrete dome.
- - -
Those who are still fans of Sammy Pahlsson will be interested to know that the 34-year-old who last played with Vancouver has signed a three-year deal to play with Modo of the Swedish Elite League. Pahlsson, who was with the Ducks from 2000 through 2009, played previously for Modo from 1994 through 2000.
I've told this story before: I was always a big Sammy Pahlsson fan when he was with the Ducks, so much so that when he was traded away in '09, someone dropped on my desk an autographed photo of him that had "Goodbye Brady, My Love" scribbled on it (here's the photo). It's still on my bulletin board and to this day, I don't know who did it.
I just know it wasn't Sammy.