Ducks Radio Analyst
DETROIT – Just three and a half months after having been selected 12th overall in this year’s NHL entry draft, defenseman Cam Fowler
stands to become the second-youngest player in Ducks history.Watch Fowler last Tuesday discussing his NHL debut
Fowler will be 18 years, 10 months and three days old when the Ducks take on the Detroit Red Wings in their NHL regular-season opener Friday night at Joe Louis Arena. Only defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky, who was 18 years, eight months and 13 days when he made his Ducks debut on Jan. 21, 1995, was younger than Fowler.
Even more amazing, despite his baby face and boyish charm, Fowler has already defied his youth in the eyes of a generally tough critic – Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.
“You don’t look at him as an 18-year-old kid. You look at him as a hockey player,” Carlyle said Thursday after the Ducks went through their final pre-season practice at Joe Louis Arena.
“He’s done everything to earn the opportunity to play,” Carlyle said. “We think he’s a special kid, but we always have to caution ourselves. You don’t want to put him in situations that he can’t possibly survive in. It’s a feather in his cap that he’s made it this far. For him not to play, something drastic would have to happen.”
Had Fowler been one of the top three or four selections in the entry draft, as nearly everyone had expected, perhaps it wouldn’t be such a surprise that he is on the verge of cracking the NHL so soon. Inexplicably, however, Fowler dropped to near the middle of the first round, a development that more than one observer has already predicted will wind up haunting the numerous teams that passed on Fowler.
“We think this is just the tip of what we can see, because he’s that special,” Carlyle said.
Fowler, who certainly did not look out of place while appearing in six of Anaheim’s seven pre-season games, is dealing not only with his impending NHL debut, but the fact it will come in his hometown.
“It’s obviously a really exciting time for me and for my family and friends. You dream of the day you can suit up for an NHL hockey club. Now I get a chance to do it in front of my hometown and in front of my friends and family. It’s just an unbelievable feeling. I have some nerves going right now, some jitters, but it’s a huge opportunity for me, so I’m really excited.” - Cam Fowler
Though born across the river in Windsor, Ontario, Fowler grew up in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills. After having spent two years with the U.S. National Team Development Program in nearby Ann Arbor, Fowler played last season for Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League, helping the Spitfires capture the Memorial Cup as champions of major-junior hockey.
Not only will Fowler have friends and family at Joe Louis Arena for the opener, but the Red Wings have graciously arranged for the entire Spitfires team to attend.
“I just heard about that,” Fowler said. “That’s awesome.
“It’s obviously a really exciting time for me and for my family and friends. You dream of the day you can suit up for an NHL hockey club. Now I get a chance to do it in front of my hometown and in front of my friends and family. It’s just an unbelievable feeling. I have some nerves going right now, some jitters, but it’s a huge opportunity for me, so I’m really excited.”
Being from the Detroit area, and having played at Joe Louis Arena “three or four times” while growing up, Fowler naturally knows all about the Red Wings and their unparalleled success during his lifetime.
“I’ll just look over during warm-ups, see guys like Nick Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk, guys that I grew up watching and really admiring,” Fowler said. “But now I get a chance to be on the same ice with them. It’s pretty mind-blowing to me. Nick Lidstrom was a huge idol for me, and somebody I really looked up to, and now I’m going to be competing against him. For an 18-year-old kid like me, it’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Carlyle had a conversation with Fowler early this week, reminding the youngster to “be selfish” and do everything possible to minimize the distractions of being besieged by family and friends.
“First and foremost, he has to go out and play,” Carlyle said. “It’s a special night. He’s acted nothing but professional through everything, so I don’t suspect that would ever change because he’s playing in his hometown. He’s going to be a little bit more nervous, but we might as well start him, get it over with.”Notes
Defenseman Toni Lydman
, who is still recovering from bouts of double vision, did join the Ducks on this road trip that will take them through Detroit (tomorrow night), Nashville (Saturday) and St. Louis (Monday). Lydman skated with the Ducks this morning but did not participate in contact drills. His his immediate status remains up in the air, though Lydman told reporters he is feeling "significantly better" than he was two or three weeks ago.