IRVINE, Calif. -- There is a very real buzz around the team these days, a renewed sense of optimism and a level of excitement that Jakob Silfverberg can feel in his bones. Whether it's the brand new practice facility at Great Park Ice, new head coach Dallas Eakins, a talented crop of young players looking to take the next step, or the chance to get back into the playoffs, this is an exciting time, and it has Silfverberg raring to go.
"Everyone has asked me how I feel coming into the season, especially after last season being what it was," Silfverberg says, looking as fit as he's ever looked. "This is probably the most excited I've been going into a season in my [seven] years here. I can't put a finger on exactly what it is, but everything feels fresh. We have a new coach, some new management and a brand new facility. Lots of young guys looking really promising. It's going to be fun to see how they do."
Though it's the early stages of training camp, the 28-year-old Gavle, Sweden native likes the makeup of the team - a solid blend of youth and experience, he says. "It's a great mix. We still have key veteran players, but we have a young, exciting team. We saw a few new faces at the end of last season." [One of them being Sam Steel, who served as Silfverberg's center at the end of the season.] "I thought they came in and did a great job. Those guys got another year under their belts."
Silfverberg has read the stories and watched the TV segments that have the Ducks near the bottom of the standings this season. Though he says he doesn't have a chip on his shoulder, he feels confident that this team can surprise some people.
"I think we can go far," he says. "If you look at the experts' lists, I don't think we're going to be on the top of those lists. At the same time, with all the stuff that's gone on, and the excitement, I think you saw it towards the end of last year. When we got it together, we played as a team. We worked hard and we were tough to beat. We played some really good hockey. I really think we can surprise a lot of people. It's going to be an exciting time."
As one of the leaders of this team, professionalism is something Silfverberg takes very seriously. Leading by example off the ice, he says, is just as important as the work he puts in on the ice. It's something he's done for years now. "I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing on and off the ice," he says. "If you start overthinking stuff, that's when you get in trouble with being yourself. The biggest part with me is just being myself. We have a lot of young players, and they're going to learn from us, the older players."
The start of the season is less than a month away, but it can't come soon enough for Silfverberg.
"We have an exciting team," he reiterates. "New coaches, new faces around management. There's a lot of exciting stuff going on around here. It's going to be a fun year. [My] body feels in good shape. I'm ready to go."