LONDON -- The Anaheim Ducks have certainly hit the ground running here in London.
But ever since winning the Stanley Cup, it seems that the club has done everything at warp speed.
“Our summer seemed like it was just the blink of an eye,” coach Randy Carlyle said.
Not that anyone is complaining.
“That’s the way you want it,” says J.S. Giguere, the club’s injured goalie. “A short summer is a good summer because it means you have been successful. That’s what we want.”
So you couldn’t find many complaints Wednesday morning as the team took the ice for the first time at the 02 Arena. Not even the fact that the club did not land until late Tuesday night could put much of a damper on things.
”We are thinking of this experience as a great experience,” Giguere said. “It’s not every day that you get to come to London and represent the NHL.”
As such, it appears that the Ducks don’t want to waste a minute of their time here. First, the team took part in a spirited two-hour practice, which was run at high speed by the always demanding Carlyle. But there was a reward waiting for the players at the end of that torture session. The Ducks’ good friend, the Stanley Cup, was on hand. But he was sporting a new look, featuring the names of the Anaheim players engraved on the trophy for the first time.
So, as they approached an old-fashioned bus parked outside the arena, waiting to take them on a sight-seeing tour of the city, the new-look Cup was waiting. Not surprisingly, the players made a beeline for it.
“Sick!” was Todd Marchant’s take on the Cup alterations. “That’s really cool.”
Corey Perry waited until some of the older players had taken a look for their names before he sidled up to the Cup to find his own line on the trophy.
“That’s when it really sinks in,” he said. “A day with the Cup that is when it hits home; but when you see your name on there, that’s when it will really sink in. It’s going to be on there for the rest of your life. When you have the opportunity at a young age to do that, like I have, and you get to see that, it’s just wonderful. Everything is a little surreal.”
Perhaps not as surreal as carting the Stanley Cup onto the top deck of a double-decker and taking it for a tour of London. Yet, that is exactly what the Ducks did.
The two-hour tour on a 30-year-old double-decker, reserved for special occasions, hit all the hot spots in rapid succession. The Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, the London Bridge, Big Ben, Westminster Abby, Parliament Square and Buckingham Palace were crossed off the to-do list in rapid succession.
But even that wasn’t enough. As the bus returned to the hotel, plans were already being made for the evening. More than a dozen Ducks were keen on taking in a League Cup football match between Fulham and Bolton at nearby Craven Cottage. George Parros was among that contingent.
I’m not an avid fan, but I like to watch it and appreciate what they do,” he said. “It should be interesting.”
Those left behind had a good dinner on their minds.
Plus, everybody was already planning for Thursday, an off-day. A fair number of players were planning to hit some of the famous golf courses in the area. Others had sight-seeing in mind, building off Wednesday’s superficial, yet highly enjoyable, tour. Whatever the plans, they had the blessing of Carlyle, the coach.
“We felt it was important that they get to do something on their own here,” Carlyle said. “It can’t be all about push, push, push.”
Perhaps it won’t be all about push, push, push. But there was no doubt that push, push, push was what Wednesday was about. But you couldn’t find an Anaheim Duck player complaining about the full itinerary.