It's been a whirlwind past 18 hours for Ben Lovejoy, the 6-2, 215-pound former Pittsburgh defenseman acquired last night by the Ducks
. After learning about the trade late night, Lovejoy was on a plane the following morning to meet the team in Dallas.
Following his first practice with the Ducks, Lovejoy caught his breath for enough time to talk about how thrilled he is to come to Anaheim. First of all, how did you find out about the trade?
I was watching TV last night at about 9:30 and I got a call from the Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero. We had a good conversation and he told me I had been traded to Anaheim. He said he had texted Bob Murray my phone number and that I’d hear from him shortly. When I talked to Bob, he said he’s been watching me for awhile. My first year in Wilkes-Barre (of the AHL), we played a playoff series against the Portland Pirates (former Anaheim AHL affiliate), and he said that ever since then, he’s been trying to get me. It was a very positive conversation and he said he wants me to be aggressive and use my skating, and that they’re excited to have me. I’m excited to be here. What was the process of getting from home to Dallas?
It was crazy. I went and picked up my hockey bag from the rink in Pittsburgh at 10:30 last night. Then I had to hurry and pack everything I need for the next five months into two suitcases. Then I tried to go to sleep and couldn’t. I was pretty excited. I still am. My alarm went off at 4:45, and my wife drove me to the airport. I had a 7:00 flight and landed in Dallas at 9:30. I was on the ice at 1:30 with the team for practice. So how are you feeling right now?
I’m exhausted. I’m debating taking a nap or waiting until this evening to go to sleep. But I’m not real worried. I know the adrenaline of the game tomorrow will carry me. The Penguins have a surplus of defensemen on their roster and in their system. Do you think that’s why they were comfortable trading you?
I think there were a couple reasons. The Penguins as a team expect to win playoff series and Stanley Cups. The past two years, we failed to make it out of the first round, and some of that falls on the defensemen, so I think they were looking to make a change there. There were some talented rookies coming up too. There were eight good d-men ready to play. I thank Pittsburgh for giving me the opportunity to have a fresh start with Anaheim. It’s never fun to be traded, but are you glad it’s an organization like Anaheim?
You think Anaheim, you think the high-end skill guys up front and the amount of talent they have on the ice. It’s pretty special and I’m so excited to be a Duck right now. I had a great six years with Pittsburgh, but I’m looking forward to a fresh start, and this is a pretty good place to be. Not only that, but the Ducks have gotten off to a fast start this season.
I haven’t followed the Western Conference a lot this year, but as soon as I got off the phone, I immediately looked up the standings and was pleasantly surprised as to how well the team has done. It makes it fun to go to the rink every day and be a part of a team that’s winning. Your teammate in Pittsburgh, Chris Kunitz, is a former Duck. Did you talk to him about coming to Anaheim?
I did speak with him. He spoke very positively of everything and said if I needed anything, or had any issues, to give him a call and he’d be happy to help. Your nickname is Rev, after Reverend Lovejoy on The Simpsons. How did that come about?
When I first became a pro hockey player, people started calling me Rev. I watched the show growing up, so I knew it well. All the guys in Pittsburgh called me Rev pretty regularly. We were in Canada one day watching Sportscentre. I made a play and the announced called me “The Reverend!” The next day Mike Rupp, who was then my teammate in Pittsburgh, came in and couldn’t believe the announcer knew my nickname. Rupp wasn’t a Simpsons fan, so he didn’t know. It has very little to do with my religious affiliation. It’s an uncommon name and that character has made it famous, so I’ve embraced that. For fans who haven’t seen you play, talk about what they can expect to see.
My goal is to make my skating a factor. I’m a guy who wants to be difficult to play against by being great positionally and moving my feet. My goal is to not get scored on. I’m not a physically punishing defenseman, though I don’t shy away from it. My goal is to keep players to the outside and play solid defense and use my skating to join in the rush when I can.Is your wife Avery coming out to Orange County with you?
My wife teaches third grade in Pittsburgh, so she’s gonna stick around and finish the school year. That’s important to both of us. I’m sure she’ll spend as much time as she can out West. She’s excited to. Beyond that, I have no idea about my living situation. I think I’ve been to Anaheim once. We’re playing so many games right now, especially on this road trip, so that stuff doesn’t matter right now.