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New-Look Ducks

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Matt Vevoda

Ducks Report on New Players

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Wisniewski said. "You get a phone call, then you're packing and on a flight. Now, you're here practicing. I haven't settled in yet. It's pretty hectic, but in a good way."
Gathered at Honda Center for the first time in two weeks, the Ducks that graced the ice surface for practice on Thursday looked markedly different than the bunch that left the building for a now-completed six-game, 13-day road trip.

Gone are the recognizable faces of veterans Travis Moen, Samuel Pahlsson, Kent Huskins and Chris Kunitz along with offseason acquisitions Steve Montador and Brendan Morrison. Filling their locker room stalls now are the crop of newcomers (all 26 years old or younger) in defensemen Ryan Whitney and James Wisniewski and forwards Erik Christensen and Petteri Nokelainen. Even Bobby Ryan, one of the cornerstones of the team, has a new look as he will now be donning No. 9. 

“I’ve never been a part of a team that has made five or six trades like this,” Chris Pronger said. “It’s a little bit different. Whether 15 guys got traded or nobody got traded, we have to come with that same mindset that we’re going to win every night and come to work. I like the makeup of our team. I think we’re going to surprise some people.”

Said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle, “I can’t remember the last time we had that many players, specifically added to your lineup for the next game. It’s somewhat unique.”

While Whitney has already played in three games with Anaheim since being traded from Pittsburgh one week ago, the newest members of the team were acquired within hours or even minutes of each other during yesterday’s trade deadline. They discussed their reactions to finding out they were among the 45 players and 21 draft picks that were dealt during a frenzied day in the NHL.

“I didn’t expect the trade,” said former Bruin Nokelainen. “But it’s the day when a lot of people get traded, so you can’t be sure. I think it’s a really good thing for my career. It’s about a good, new challenge.”
"I didn't expect the trade," Nokelainen said. "I think it's a really good thing for my career. It's about a good, new challenge."
Said former Thrasher Christensen, “I had a feeling it might be me. Being in limbo for that day and a half before the deadline comes and then when you get the news, it’s hard to describe how you feel. It hits you. Even if you expect it, it’s still a weird feeling. I’m a little tired today, but excited though.”

After receiving word of their deals, the three players all had to quickly make plans to get to their new home in Anaheim for this morning’s practice. That meant a frantic scramble to quickly get some things together before boarding lengthy flights from Chicago (Wisniewski), Atlanta (Christensen) and Boston (Nokelainen).

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Wisniewski said. “You get a phone call, then you’re packing and on a flight. Now, you’re here practicing. I haven’t settled in yet. It’s pretty hectic, but in a good way.”

Interestingly enough, the trio of new players have each had a close look at the Ducks recently, as Atlanta (Feb. 15, Christensen had an assist in 15:49 of playing time), Boston (Feb. 26, Nokelainen did not play) and Chicago (Anaheim’s most recent game on March 3 that Wisniewski played 16:35 for the opposition) have all been on the schedule in the last eight games. Even Whitney, as a member of the Penguins, played against the Ducks back on Jan. 16 (one assist in 29:39 of time).

"This team easily has one of the best defensive cores in the league," Christensen said of the Ducks. "There are a lot of really good players here. They have had success with the Stanley Cup banner and with good teams throughout the years."
They all agree that the Ducks present a difficult matchup with plenty of superior talent on its roster. “This team easily has one of the best defensive cores in the league,” Christensen said. “With Getzlaf and Perry, you have two of the best young guys in the game. There are a lot of really good hockey players here. They had had success with the Stanley Cup banner and with good teams throughout the years.’

Now on the other side of the fence as members of the Ducks, each hopes to aid the team’s quest for a fourth consecutive playoff spot. As of Thursday, Anaheim was tied with Edmonton and Nashville for seventh place in the Western Conference with 68 points. With 17 games to go and a whole bunch of new faces, the Ducks should provide plenty of excitement over the final month of the 2008-09 season.

“It will be an interesting 17 games,” Pronger said. “We’re still in the middle of everything and we have a nice little home stretch here. It’s up to us now to lay it all out on the line and make sure that we’re winning the games we need to.”
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