Among the Ducks’ moves to shore up their defense on Sunday's opening day of free agency was the important signing of veteran blueliner Bryan Allen. The 31-year-old Allen is a big stay-at-home defenseman who played all 82 games for Carolina last season and ranked fourth in the league in blocked shots with 188.
The 6-5, 226-pounder was taken fourth overall by Vancouver in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft and has played in 601 career games with the Canucks (2001-06), Panthers (2006-11) and Hurricanes (2011-12). In Carolina, he earned a reputation as not just a gritty d-man, but one of the leaders in the locker room, attributes he’s looking forward to bringing to Anaheim.
From his offseason home in South Florida, Allen talked about coming to the Ducks. What is your reaction to signing with Anaheim?
I’m excited. It’s definitely something new. We’ve been in the east since just after the lockout. Every time you go somewhere on the road, you always wonder, Is this a place I could someday play? And now I’m in Anaheim and I’m thrilled. What do you know about Ducks, having played in the Eastern Conference the past few years?
I don’t know a lot. I know their star players and what they’re built around. I know Bob Murray a little bit from when we were both in Vancouver. But after that, not a whole lot. There are no former teammates. How did the negotiations go?
There were various teams that were interested, but Anaheim was higher on my list of places to eventually go. When they called with an offer, it didn’t take long to accept.
What appealed to you about Anaheim?
|"I’m more or less a stay-at-home defenseman. I’m also someone who plays with a bit of an edge. I’m not necessarily fighting all the time, but I’m a team player who stands up for my teammates and plays with an aggressive style." |
They have a history of winning the Stanley Cup and the core players they’ve built around is exciting. For my family, being a little bit older and having a couple of kids [4-year-old Layla and 1-year-old Brenner], anyone you talk to says it’s a great place to live. How would you describe your game for Ducks fans who haven’t seen you?
I’m more or less a stay-at-home defenseman. I’m also someone who plays with a bit of an edge. I’m not necessarily fighting all the time, but I’m a team player who stands up for my teammates and plays with an aggressive style.In Carolina you were thought of as a leader in that locker room. Is that something you pride yourself on?
Definitely. It just goes along with character and being comfortable having played in the league for several years. It comes a little easier, especially when I was in Carolina and Florida. We had some pretty young teams, so you kind of get into that role naturally. You were fourth in the league in blocked shots last year. Is that something else you take pride in?
Yeah, that’s something you try and focus on. I think playing a number of minutes on the penalty kill, that’s something that’ inevitable. But it’s definitely something I take pride in. I’m obviously not a points guy or a guy who is going to be on the power play, but I’ve always viewed being on special teams as a privilege. I think the penalty kill is just as important as the power play. You’ve dealt with injuries a bit during your career, so was it a big deal for you to play all 82 games last season?
Yeah, it was a rewarding thing in a way because I’ve dealt with injuries, and I even had one year where I had knee surgery and missed every game but two. Things follow you around and people think, He’s been hurt, so he’s always hurt. There’s that stigma. In the last three years, I think I’ve missed less than 20 games. I feel as healthy as ever, and it definitely meant a lot to play all 82 games last year.
Have you started doing some research on Orange County yet?
|"Anytime I’ve come to Anaheim to play, it’s always such a great city and one of the best spots to go to on the road. We can’t wait to get there." |
We’ve definitely tried. I’ve talked to a few guys who played there before and I’m seeing where guys lived. It’s definitely high on our list of priorities the last few days. Probably the biggest thing is to find a house and a preschool for my daughter. Not having spent that much time there, you don’t know the city too well, so it’s a bit of a process. You’ve been on a few teams in your career. Is it tough to move cities?
It’s definitely a challenge, especially when you have kids and a lot more comes along with that, whether it’s finding schools or the right place to live. You want everyone to be comfortable and happy when you are, so we take the time to make the right decisions. In the same sense, we’re excited. Anytime I’ve come to Anaheim to play, it’s always such a great city and one of the best spots to go to on the road. We can’t wait to get there. What are your plans the rest of the offseason?
To be honest, we’re not exactly sure. We’re trying to get there as soon as possible, but I think it will be around the 23rd of July. We’re actually spending some time in South Florida right now, which is where I lived when I played for the Panthers. My wife and I are from Kingston, Ontario, and we usually spend time there each offseason. But right now we’re actually we’re working on getting our green cards. It’s a long process with paperwork and filing, and it’s basically a lot of time and money. We’re in the last stages, and that’s the reason we have to stay in the States. It’s a little easier doing it that way. We’re getting some travel documents and taking a trip to Canada this weekend. Other than that, it’s just a waiting process. But we’re definitely looking forward to getting out there and we’re excited about it.