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|The first day of training camp for the Anaheim Ducks took place on Sunday at The Rinks - Anaheim Ice. |
Before a jam-packed crowd at The Rinks – Anaheim Ice, the Ducks got the ball rolling on the 2009-10 season with the opening of training camp on Sunday morning.
More than 1,000 spectators came out to Anaheim’s practice facility, which quickly became standing room only, to catch their first glimpse of a team eager to expand upon a promising run that came to an abrupt end with a Game 7 loss at Detroit nearly four months ago in the Western Conference Semifinals.
“We knew that it was so close and we fell short a little bit,” Teemu Selanne
said. “Using that as motivation and as a tool to get better, I really believe is going to be a good challenge for us. Everything is in our own hands. That is a good situation.”
Optimism was not relegated to just Selanne, it swirled throughout the confines of training camp, from the players and coaching staff on the ice to the mass of black-and-orange clad fans in the stands. Much to everyone’s joy, the 2009-10 Ducks are finally here.
“With the first practices today, this will basically be a marathon until sometime in the spring or hopefully late in the summer,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “This is all the start of it. We are all in first place on the first day of training camp. We’ll continue to try to put a group together that can be competitive night in and night out.”
|More than 1,000 fans filled the bleachers at The Rinks - Anaheim Ice, as they got their first look at the 2009-10 Anaheim Ducks. |
The first day of camp began with an hour practice, where the large group (only missing Ryan Getzlaf
(sports hernia) and Erik Christensen (shoulder), who are working their way back from offseason surgeries) was split in two between the NHL and Olympic rinks at Anaheim Ice. After a short break, a scrimmage (consisting of two-45 sessions) pitting Ducks in white jerseys against those in black jerseys ensued. On the strength of two Corey Perry
goals, the white squad came away with a 4-3 victory in the game.
One of the more active teams in the months away, the Ducks displayed several new players looking to make an impact on this year’s squad. Early in the offseason, Ducks Executive VP and GM Bob Murray targeted more scoring for the club and was able to come away with Joffrey Lupul (a Duck from 2003-06, re-acquired from Philadelphia in the Chris Pronger trade at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft) and longtime Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu
(signed as a free agent). The presence of that duo along with Selanne could potentially create a dangerous second line to complement the first unit of Ryan Getzlaf
, Corey Perry
and Bobby Ryan
Wearing a different jersey for the first time in his 14-year career, Koivu said he was “a bit nervous” after the first day of camp with the Ducks. His sheer enthusiasm for the new surroundings soon took over.
“I was excited than probably never before,” said Koivu, who signed a one-year deal with the Ducks on July 8. “I’ve waited for this day for a long time now. It’s a lot of fun. There are a lot of new faces. It’s going to take some time to get used to everything. After last year, I wanted to get a new challenge and a new environment for myself and my family. I’m extremely happy to be here.”
|"I was excited than probably never before," said Koivu after his first day of Ducks training camp. "I've waited for this day for a long time now. It's a lot of fun. I'm extremely happy to be here." |
Helping his transition will be Selanne, his friend and fellow Finn, who Koivu has played with in several international competitions over the last decade. “I look at it like he’s a bonus for us,” Selanne said. “Obviously, he has done great things in this league. I’m really excited about it. My expectations are high.”
As camp progresses, there will be heavy “competition for positions” Carlyle said. Several of those openings are on defense where new acquisitions Nick Boynton, Steve Eminger, Steve McCarthy and Luca Sbisa
will do battle with Sheldon Brookbank
, Brett Festerling, Brendan Mikkelson, Brian Salcido and a slew of prospects for spots on the blue line alongside Scott Niedermayer, Ryan Whitney and James Wisniewski.
“The first couple days of camp are always pretty tough,” said Boynton, who played with Florida last season and signed a one-year deal on July 9. “I’m looking forward to an opportunity here and a fresh start. There are a ton of good young players. There are quite a few spots open. It’s a fight and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.”
No competition may be more intense or intriguing than the duel for the No. 1 goaltender’s job between Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jonas Hiller
. The job is currently up in the air and each is more than capable of coming out on top.
“My message to both of them basically was I’m not giving it to either one of them,” Carlyle said. “They are going to have equal opportunity to earn it. That is the only way we can go forward. We’re in the business to win and we have to win. We have to show that respect to Jiggy, with the situation he dealt with last year on a personal level. Jonas came in and did a heck of a job. But we’re starting over and both players have been informed that there is not a given here, you have to go out and earn it.”
|"It's the same as every other year that I've played in this league, you try to make saves," Giguere (right) said. "That is my focus. The more saves I make, the better chance I have to play a lot of games." |
Each supportive of the other, Giguere and Hiller both looked ready for the battle to see who will be in net come Oct. 3 against the Sharks in the season opener at Honda Center. "It’s the same as every other year that I’ve played in this league, you try to make saves," Giguere said. "That is my focus. The more saves I make, the better chance I have to play a lot of games. I took a step back, worked out hard and made sure that I was ready. I feel like I’ve done my homework and my preparation. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance and we’ll see what happens when I get it."
Said Hiller, "I always wanted to become a No. 1. I wasn’t expecting it to happen that fast and probably not here in Anaheim. In the end, I always try to do my best. If I play better than all the other guys here, then hopefully I’ll get that No. 1 job. I had the same situation back home in Switzerland. I had a great run in the playoffs and was facing the same situation. I don’t think too much about it. I know I have to be ready. I think I had pretty good preparation in the summer. I’m ready to go definitely."
The first preseason game for the Ducks will come on Wednesday, when they play host to the Coyotes at Honda Center at 7:05 p.m. It will be the first of four games in four nights for Anaheim and the picture of the 2009-10 club should start becoming a little clearer on several fronts.
“Right now, our focus is to get through these first couple of days of practices and do some assessments on who could possibly play together,” Carlyle said. “We have four exhibition games coming up, four in four nights, which is a pretty taxing schedule in your first week of training camp. We’re going to have an opportunity to get lots of looks at people in different situations.”