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Ducks, Angels kindred spirits in success

by Randy Schultz

Angels' manager Mike Scioscia knows the championship feeling the Anaheim Ducks experienced when they were crowned Stanley Cup champions. 
Mike Scioscia remembered the feeling very well. As the final seconds ticked down in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators, Scioscia looked down at the Ducks’ bench and could see the anticipated excitement.

Finally, the horn sounded, the crowd erupted into a deafening roar and the Anaheim bench emptied onto the ice in celebration. The Ducks were Stanley Cup champions.

Scioscia knows that championship feeling. Just three years before he managed the Anaheim Angels to a World Series championship over the San Francisco Giants.

“Not bad with two World Championships in two different sports in just three years,” said Scioscia, in his eighth season as manager of the now Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. “We’re very happy for the success the Ducks have experienced.

“Not bad for a city that a little over a half-century ago was made up of mostly of a farming area.”

Quite true. A little over 50 years ago, the city of Anaheim had a lot of orange groves. Then a guy by the name of Walt Disney came along and built a Magic Kingdom. Then “The Cowboy,” Gene Autry, rode into town with his Angels in the mid-1960s. Finally, three decades later, the Ducks arrived on the scene. Today, with the 21st Century less than a decade old, Anaheim is a city of champions and the Angels are very proud of their neighbor’s success.

“It’s a special time here in Southern California,” Scioscia said. “And not just for the city of Anaheim. It’s more far reaching than that. It’s fun to be a part of it. There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between the two organizations. Just a few years back, both organizations were owned by Disney.

“Both teams have carved out an identity for themselves in a very high profile area like Southern California. Over the past five or six years we’ve managed to turn our organization around into a winning one.

“During the same time, the Ducks have turned their franchise around as well. They’ve become a world-class organization by not only winning the Stanley Cup, but by the way they operate and what they do. It’s been exciting for us to watch them rise to the top of their sport.”

One man who worked for both teams during the Disney-owned era was Tim Mead. Now a Vice President of Communications for the Angels, Mead sees similarities between the two organizations.

“We were very excited here with the Angels to see the success the Ducks have had,” Mead said. “I think those of us who worked for the Ducks at one time were even more excited, especially when they won the Cup. To watch them from their infancy to being Stanley Cup Champions was great. And when you think about it they did it in a very short period of time. It took the Angels 42 seasons to win a World Series. It took the Ducks much less time to achieve their success. I think the Ducks’ success is great for hockey on the West Coast. I think it’s great for hockey all over.

Now that Brian Burke has assembled a Stanly Cup championship club, there are now two world-class organizations in Anaheim.
“I think the thing that impresses me so much about the Ducks is their whole system. Brian Burke and David McNab and everyone else have done such a great job. What shouldn’t be lost on people is that the year the Angels changed their uniforms they won a World Series. The year the Ducks changed their uniform, they win a Stanley Cup.

“The Ducks have now become a club that has been built for now as well as the future. When you have people look at you and say that you are a model franchise, that may almost be a better comment than saying that you are a Stanley Cup champion. That’s what people are saying about the Angels. We are considered a model franchise. That is a very high compliment to pay to a team.”

Mead said two teams, despite not being owned by the same ownership group, are still working hand-in-hand with certain projects.

“I don’t think people realize that Brian Burke and (Angeles VP-GM) Bill Stoneman are very close,” Mead said. “It’s not necessarily an exchange of GM ideas of how each other run their respective franchises. Instead, it’s community endeavors with each other. We had the Cup come over here during an Angels game. When Chris Pronger was signed by the Ducks a year ago, we immediately had him come over to an Angels game and throw out the first pitch.

“If there has been anything they’ve needed to advertise or promote we have worked with them. In turn, when the Angels were World Series champions, the World Series Trophy went over to their arena.

“We don’t compete against the Ducks and the Ducks don’t compete against the Angels. You just don’t find to many places in the country that have a Stanley Cup champion and World Series champion across the street from each other. So, there is that support for each other both on and off the field. And it’s a healthy relationship.

“And the one thing both organizations have in common is that they don’t have to look back any more. We’re both in the books now that we have won championships. Once you win, you don’t have to worry about your past anymore. All the past failures go away. You just keep looking ahead to the bright future.”

Stoneman, who has had a long relationship with hockey, going back to his days with the Montreal Expos in the late 1960s and early 1970s, sees the success the Ducks have had as a plus for the entire state of California.

“One of the things I noticed when attending Ducks games over the past couple of years has been their attendance,” said Stoneman, who pitched eight seasons in the Major Leagues and threw two no-hitters during that span with the Expos. “You could see people in this area getting turned on by the hockey team. Second, there are a lot of people here in Southern California who really understand the game of hockey. They get it. People also forget that the Ducks went to the Cup Finals the spring after the Angels won the World Series. People are now expecting both teams to win and be in the playoffs each year.

“And that success is spreading outside of the Anaheim area. I know that there are people who attend games for both the Angels and the Ducks that travel a great distance. We’re talking about 40 or 50 miles or more to attend games. These teams are extending their territories of support. We are no longer teams that are just taken for granted. The respect these teams now get is great. And these teams continue to build for the future. That future is bright for Anaheim and Southern California and will just get brighter.”

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