While the trio of Ducks captains for the 2014-15 season has yet to be announced, the Ducks at least unveiled the captain of this year’s Wild Wingers Kids Club presented by UC Irvine – defenseman Ben Lovejoy.
And there may not be anyone more excited about this selection than Lovejoy himself.
“I’m very excited. It’s absolutely an honor,” said Lovejoy during a break in Ducks training camp. “I love it here. I love being a Duck and I love playing here. I want to do everything I can to help grow the game.”
This year’s membership features all that a family could need to get connected with Ducks hockey, including a Lovejoy jersey t-shirt, a Wild Wing bobblehead, a ticket voucher to a select 2014-15 Anaheim Ducks home game, and free admission to exclusive parties throughout the season.
Lovejoy recently got the opportunity to check out some of the items in the kit and was impressed with this year’s offering.
“I think that at that age, the age the Ducks are trying to attract, trying to grow as fans, those are pretty cool items,” said Lovejoy, who just became a father last New Year’s Eve (he and wife Avery had a daughter named Lila). “I think as a grade school kid, even into high school, I would’ve thought those were pretty cool.”
Lovejoy understands his role with the Ducks extends beyond the ice and into the community, something he will be able to take an active role in as Kids Club captain. Whether it’s signing autographs or meeting Kids Club members at the End of the Year Party at Knott’s Berry Farm, Lovejoy looks forward making an impact on young fans.
“One of the coolest things for me as a professional athlete is being able to interact with kids,” said Lovejoy. “As a young fan, I was so impressionable with professional hockey players. I held them in higher regard than everyone else, and they were almost unattainable heroes. Anything I can do to make that experience and their impressions of both professional athletes and the Anaheim Ducks better, I’m all for it.”
Lovejoy says that parenthood has given him a new perspective when it comes to how important programs like the Wild Wingers Kids Club are to investing in kids and growing the sport of hockey locally.
“I am much more aware now of how impressionable kids are, how important things like this are to children,” Lovejoy said. “I would always think it’s cool to have kids in the stands, have them wanting my autograph. But now, I will go even further to make things like that happen.”
Lovejoy recently got the chance to see another way the Ducks are growing hockey in our community, as he participated in “Hockey Day in Southern California” at THE RINKS – Anaheim Ice, where the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League kicked off its season.
Lovejoy joined the newly retired Teemu Selanne at center ice for a ceremonial puck drop prior to one of the league’s games and was overwhelmed at the fans and the enthusiasm behind local high school hockey.
“Leading up to it, and even while I was there, everybody involved would always comment on how California high school hockey isn’t what I would be used to coming from the east coast,” said the New Hampshire native. “And they were right. It was above and beyond anything that I ever experienced as a high school hockey player in New England.
“The whole atmosphere was above and beyond what I had expected. It’s very impressive here and I think that the grass roots effort that the Ducks have made to grow hockey in Southern California has been ultra successful. I think that both the Ducks and the people of California should be proud of how far the game has come here.”
As the Ducks put in their final preseason preparations before the puck drops on October 9 in Pittsburgh, Lovejoy’s role in helping engage kids in this great sport won’t be far from his mind.
“I think that [Orange County] is such a special place and if we can get more and more kids involved with the Anaheim Ducks, I’m all for it and excited to be a part of that.”
or stop by Section 214 at Honda Center during any Anaheim Ducks home game to purchase this year’s Wild Wingers Kids Club membership for just $25.