"We know that we have to win to make our owners, management and fans happy," Kunitz said of the upcoming 2008-09 season. "That is something that we have to turn the corner on and get back on track with is winning."
In his time away from Anaheim this offseason, Chris Kunitz has been considerably active. Immediately following the end of the Ducks’ season, the left winger (along with fellow Duck Ryan Getzlaf) helped Team Canada win a silver medal at the 2008 IIHF World Championships held in Halifax and Quebec City. A few months later in July, Kunitz and his longtime girlfriend Maureen were married in a ceremony held in Chicago, where the two have a summer home.
Returned from his honeymoon to the Windy City, Kunitz (en route to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game) took some time out on Thursday to discuss the past few months and what lies ahead for both him and the Ducks with training camp slated to begin on Sept. 19.
You and your new wife Maureen were recently married. How was the big day for you? Kunitz: It was the best day of my life so far. It was a lot of fun to have all our families together and everybody meeting each other, like different worlds colliding. It was definitely a great day. We look at our pictures now and try to relive the day. We wish it didn’t go so quick.
How quickly were you able to move on from the heartbreak of losing to Dallas in the playoffs last season? Kunitz: It was definitely very disappointing at the time. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to keep playing for Team Canada in the World Championships. That took some of the burden off of not getting to where our team should be. To be able to go play for Team Canada for the first time ever in my life, it was an honor for me to be able to put on that jersey and go out and play. Unfortunately, we ended up losing in the final, but it was definitely something my family and I enjoyed.
This offseason has been longer than you and the rest of the Ducks have grown accustomed to over the past few seasons. Has the extended time away been difficult at all? Kunitz: We were done on the 20th of April. I went out to the World Championships for 23 days and skated 21 of those days. It takes you into the third round of the NHL playoffs, timewise. Obviously, the hockey wasn’t as physical and the preparation wasn’t the same, but getting out there skating and not having so long to think about the next year made it easier.
"I went to the World Championships for 23 days and skated 21 of those days," Kunitz said of the longer Ducks offseason. "Getting out there skating and not having so long to think about next year made it easier."
What do you make of the moves the Ducks have made in the offseason? Kunitz: I’m definitely excited. Every year it changes. You can never measure one year to the next year because guys move around a lot. You figure out it’s a business early in your career. If you’re not winning, there are going to be changes. Last year, there wasn’t enough winning on our side. It’s very exciting to have a couple more forwards and defensemen come in and change things up. Brendan Morrison is a phenomenal player. I think it will be really exciting to get to play with him and watch what he can do when he’s healthy because we all know he’s a great player. How much have you been able to talk with your teammates over the summer? Kunitz: I talked to Getzy and Perry a few times. I text messaged Moen and a few others. Sometimes you just keep in touch in little texts, nothing too intense. You just try to make sure everybody is feeling good and stuff like that.
Have you started preparations on your own yet for the 2008-09 season? Kunitz: I don’t really think you don’t prepare. Pretty much the whole time, ever since we left, I work out a couple of days a week. I started skating last week. That would be my skating preparation. Other than that, it’s a year-round job. You don’t really get time to take off and not workout and not be in shape. You have to be in tip-top condition all the time.
It looks like the Pacific Division and Western Conference will be even stronger in 2008-09. What are your thoughts on the upcoming year? Kunitz: It’s going to be even tougher than it has been in years past. It seems like a lot of teams have loaded up with really good players. There is always going to be a surprise team, even though there are a few powerhouse teams out there. Obviously, we’re not going to take anybody by surprise, so we have to go out and play every single game. We have to go out and focus on our goal and that is to be first or somewhere in the top to get home-ice advantage. I think those are expectations that are probably throughout the organization and the team.
"It's going to be even tougher than it has been in years past," Kunitz said of the Pacific Division and Western Conference. "We have to go out and focus on our goal and that is to be first or somewhere in the top to get home-ice advantage."
Is it going to be easier this season with not having to deal with some of the pressures that were around in 2007-08? Kunitz: I don’t think so. I think those were some excuses. Every situation is different and nobody really knows how to react after a season that you win. We’re all professionals. We know that we have to win to make our owners, management and fans happy. That is something that we have to turn the corner on and get back on track with is winning. Winning is the main goal and objective every season.
Do you have any idea of what Teemu Selanne may do in 2008-09? Kunitz: I don’t. I haven’t kept in touch with him. We played golf a few times before we all left for the year, but that’s about it.
We are less than a month away from the start of training camp, what are your plans for the rest of the offseason? Kunitz: I have a few charity golf events I plan to attend. I have one tomorrow. Other than that, just packing up and getting ready to come back out to Anaheim for the year. Next week will be my first full week of skating and a pre-training camp. It’s right into the season this next week pretty much.