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Adam Brady is the Director of Publications & New Media for the Anaheim Ducks and Honda Center. Email him by CLICKING HERE.

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Updated June 30 at 12:57 p.m.

Tomorrow is going to be a big day around these parts. You know what I'm talking about.

Oh, free agency begins? Signing Corey Perry? No, I was talking about the hands-free cell phone law that's going into effect throughout the state.

In case you missed it, the law requires that all California drivers use hands-free devices when using their cell phones while driving.
And while I'm all for any law that aims to heighten driving safety, this one doesn't make too much sense to me. You've got to take your hands off the phone when you're talking, but it's still okay to dial and send text messages (as long as you're over 18). I don't see how holding a phone to your ear is all that dangerous. I'm not complaining. I've been guilty of sending the occasional (okay more than occasional) text or email when I've been behind the wheel, so if the law was spread that far it would be an annoyance. But I just don't understand putting this law into effect without going all the way with it. 

The other negative of this law? Now that more people are forced to buy the earpieces, there will be an inevitable increase in people who wear them when they're outside their car. I've never understood these people who have that thing clipped to their ear all day long. Is it really that important to be able to tap the button on that earpiece when the call comes in rather than taking the phone out of their pocket and putting it to their ear? That's just a bad look. We're probably only a few years away from a chip that's surgically implanted in your head, allowing you to pull on your earlobe or something to take a call. You know how if you're standing on the wrong side of those earpiece people and it looks like they're talking to themselves? This might make that even worse.

Okay, on to the hockey-related reason to look forward to July 1. With each passing day and each passing comment, it's looking more and more likely the Ducks will re-sign Corey Perry. (And from what I'm hearing around here, you can lock it in.)

There is also this quote from his agent, Mark Guy, which ran in the O.C. Register this morning: “If other teams come to the table July 1, obviously we have an obligation to look at those things, but Corey’s instructions are to try to get the best deal done with Anaheim. He enjoys it there, wants to continue and have a chance to win another Cup. I don’t see any reason why we’re not going to be able to get something done with the Ducks.”

And Guy also indicated they would like to get something done quickly: “We’re expecting to have some very early-morning discussions with Brian [Burke],” he said.

That would be good since it occurred to me over the weekend how this organization is getting quite the reputation. From the Burke contract extension to the Scott Niedermayer and Teemu comeback decisions (both this year and last year) to the re-signing of Perry, the Ducks do more procrastinating and putting off than a teenage slacker with an English paper due in two weeks.

Other than that, I'd be very surprised to see much more on the free agency front from the Ducks, who are more focused on shedding players and salary than bringing more in.  “Right now, having profiled the guys that are there and how much money they’ll get, I doubt we’ll do much on July 1,” Burke said. “Second-line center is a void, but we might have to get this player the old-fashioned way, and trade for him.”

Last thing. If you're really bored today, you can read this interview with me on the blog site called Bleacher Report. All I wonder about it is, why did I ever give them that picture of me? This interview was pasted into the Ducks news clips that are emailed to the staff every morning. I'm already hearing about it.

Updated June 27 at 1:10 p.m.

Carrying on their apparent goal to lead the league in making news (even in the offseason), the Ducks grabbed their third headline of the week this morning by placing Todd Bertuzzi on waivers. Should Bertuzzi not be claimed by any team before 9 a.m. Pacific tomorrow (and I don't think at $4 million a year he will be), the Ducks will buy out his contract.

Here's how that works: The Ducks will have to pay 2/3 of his remaining salary, which at $4 million a year is $2.67 million. According to the collective bargaining agreement, the Ducks can pay that over the next two years, which means it will only hit their salary cap figure for $1.33 million over the next two seasons. That gives Anaheim more room to sign Corey Perry and in turn make any other moves they want to make.

It's an unfortunate way to go out for Bertuzzi, who just never seemed to get it going with the Ducks this season. There were spurts, but not enough of them to warrant keeping a guy making that kind of money. In 68 games he had 14 goals and none in the six playoff games, a far cry from the guy who with Vancouver in the early part of this decade was one of the best power forwards in the game. People will point to the downfall of Bertuzzi's game following the Steve Moore incident in 2004, and the suspension that lasted 17 months (partly because of the '04-05 lockout). But I don't think that's telling the whole story. He actually had a nice 2005-06 season with Vancouver, with 25 goals and 71 points while playing all 82 games. (That kind of production with Anaheim this season might have kept him around.) But injuries limited him to just 15 regular season games with the Panthers and Red Wings in '06-07, and kept him out of 14 games with the Ducks last season. And who knows how many games he played hurt this season.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the 33-year-old Bertuzzi, since it's not inconceivable that he could hang it up. If he does, it's a somewhat regretful end to a solid NHL career that has him just seven short of 800 games, in which he's scored 240 goals.

To make things even more complicated, I'm also hearing there is a slight chance that after the contract buyout, he could be signed at a significantly lower salary by ... that's right, the Ducks. We'll see how that develops in the coming days. (Update: Brian Burke says there is no way that will happen.)

And of course the Ducks aren't nearly done with their dealings. There is speculation that the team's other big free agent signing of a year ago, Mathieu Schneider (39 years old and making $5.75 a year), is on the trading block with yesterday's return of Scott Niedermayer. Todd Marchant's name has also been bandied about. I'd be sad to see either one of those guys go, but it's clear the Ducks have to make some tough moves to fit Niedermayer, Corey Perry and possibly Teemu Selanne under the umbrella.

Speaking of Scotty, I was struck by just how energized he seemed to be yesterday when he was here to meet with Brian Burke and take care of media obligations. (By the way, how good is the guy asking the questions on yesterday's video interview?) On the outside, Scotty looked like his typical laid-back self, rolling through here with hair that hasn't been cut in months, a double t-shirt, shorts and a visor with a surfer logo on it. For a guy who grew up in British Columbia and spent a dozen years living in New Jersey, I'd say the guy fits in pretty well down here.

But he wasn't so laid-back if you hear him on his conference call with media yesterday. I wasn't in the room when he was on the call, but he almost sounded ... I don't know ... pumped up. I think he might be ready for opening night to be tomorrow. “I'm looking forward to the season starting,” he said. “I guess after a short year, and a shorter playoff run, I feel energized and ready to go. Physically and mentally, I feel a lot fresher than a year ago at this time."

Jeff Miller has a nice column in today's O.C. Register on the dramatic effect Scotty's announcement had yesterday: Suddenly the Ducks are contenders again. Suddenly it looks all the more likely that Teemu will come back. Suddenly the bad news that started the week is softened a bit. Suddenly the Ducks have to scramble with other personnel to fit Scotty (and possibly Selanne) into their plans. Who would have thought a shaggy-haired guy in a t-shirt and flip flops could have such an impact on a major league sports franchise.

(I'm listening to some XM Radio online while I type this and I'm wondering: Could Nickelback possibly suck any worse? I don't think I've hated a band this much in my lifetime.)

On to a couple of lighter topics. In response to my wondering two days ago if Barry Melrose would bring the mullet back when he coaches in Tampa Bay, a reader named Sasha sent me an email with the subject line: "Bringing Sexy Back." And attached was a photo of this 1990 trading card. I don't know what's worse, the mullet or the fact that he's wearing his cap back that far on his head. Tragic, Brad May. Tragic. (By the way, did you know that all of the letters in the name Brad May can be used to form the name Adam Brady? I'm reminded of that every time I type his name and accidentally type "Brady" first.)

Remember how a few days ago I spoke to fourth graders at Laguna Niguel Elementary School about what it's like to work for the Ducks? Well, just yesterday I received in the mail a homemade bound book of thank-you notes from the kids. In addition to the one that was signed, "With all due respect," and then the girl's name, there were plenty of highlights:

"I bet everyone in the fourth grade loved you."
I'm sure not everyone.

"I learned that Disney used to own the Ducks, and now the L.A. Kings own them."
Uh, I don't remember saying that. Wait, is that TRUE?

"I learned that where the Ducks stadium is, it used to be a pond."
Um ... sort of.

"Dear Mrs. Brady..."

"I think the Ducks got better when you started working for them."
And that's NOT a coincidence.

"Thank you for buying us towels, pictures and posters."
Well, I didn't exactly BUY them, but I'm okay with them thinking that.

"Thanks for showing us your championship ring. I didn't know that when you win the Stanley Cup, you win a ten thousand dollar ring."
Wow. I didn't know that either.

"I think it is very cool that you work for the Ducks and you like your job. But I don't want to work for the Ducks when I grow up. I want to be an investment banker."
Fourth grader, ladies and gentlemen. Fourth grader.

Um. Yeah. You too. 

"You have the best job ever. You're sooo awesome."
Now THAT'S true.

Updated June 26 at 12:05 p.m.

And, there it is.

In what has become one of the worst-kept secrets in hockey, the Ducks made it official today by announcing that Scott Niedermayer will indeed return to the Ducks next season. It goes without saying that this is tremendous news, and I think we're all blessed to be able to see him skate for another full year. Now if and when Teemu Selanne returns and if and when Corey Perry re-signs, you've got to have the Ducks and Detroit as the two favorites to win the Cup next year. I don't think there is any question about that.

Scotty is scheduled to come in here at any minute to speak with the media via conference call, as well as record some comments on camera. We will have all of that for you later this afternoon.

Updated June 25 at 2:36 p.m.

I'm not going to get into the other topic on the table in Ducks land, but I will say that the buzz around here is that we will be hearing word from Scott Niedermayer as early as tomorrow morning. And while it's well-documented that I don't have a good reputation with this sort of thing, I think you can book it: He's coming back.

And with Scotty coming back, you've got to feel like No. 8 won't be far behind. But let's not count those chickens before they ... have a bird in the hand. Or something like that.

I will say that Brian Burke told season tickets holders at Select-a-Seat on Monday night that he feels that both players will come back. It's funny watching Burkie address the half dozen or so groups that came in every half hour to the event, using the same lines and same jokes over and over again. It was almost like he was a touring comic and he told me later he felt sorry for the staff people who had to hear the same bits all night long. Among those lines:

- Regarding Scotty's newborn, going back to the well for the joke he originally told last season about Teemu Selanne's new daughter, saying "let's hope the baby cries a lot." 

- Saying he's confident Corey Perry wants to stay here and that should be a no-brainer for him for a couple of reasons. He plays with Ryan Getzlaf, who Burke said has assisted on something like 82 percent of Perry's 59 career goals. He also said he told Perry that if he signs a multi-million-dollar deal, he'll be dating girls in Orange County that "he used to be afraid to talk to when he was in junior high." Well played.

- Reiterating that despite the fact the salary cap will be higher this year, the Ducks are still sticking to a budget of $50 million and they will still lose money at that figure. He pointed out that the lower bowl of Honda Center (which is where the real money is made) contains significantly less seats than other arenas around the league, making it even tougher to turn a profit.

Aside from Burkie's comments, I got a kick out of hearing that a fan named Paul approached Kent French as asked him why he lets me get away with labeling him "the Poor Man's Ryan Seacrest." (Frenchie claims he hates that nickname, but I think deep down he likes it.) Paul emailed me to say that Ducks/Honda Center head honcho Tim Ryan overheard the mention of the nickname and immediately shouted it in Frenchie's direction. I don't think he was too pleased.

I was happy to see Barry Melrose get back into coaching for the first time in 13 years when the Tampa Bay Lightning gave him a job. Let's hope he brings this back. Melrose told reporters that he estimates he watched about 90 percent of the Lightning's games on TV last season. Which begs the question -- Why? You think when he told the Lightning that in the interview they considered not hiring him?  I was also interested to see Melrose quickly hire Phoenix coach Rick Tocchet as an assistant. Tocchet apparently was taking wagers at 2-1 odds that he would be hired, so I hope that paid off for him.

I somehow came across this interview on the NHL Arena Program blog site with Kings website guy Thomas LaRocca. (For the record, they ran an interview with me first.) One of the items in LaRocca's interview was his answer to what he would do if the Kings ever won the Cup: "I am not really sure what all I would do when that finally happens…I know the first thing I would do is call the Ducks website manager Adam Brady…For the last year, every time I have called him he has purposely answered the phone 'Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks, this is Adam, how may I help you?' so a little vengeance would be nice."

I really did used to do that, but only when he called. Thank you, Caller ID.

Last night I went and saw "Get Smart" with my dad and enjoyed it, even though it got off to a rocky start. An elderly woman in the row behind us was talking to her companion in an incredibly loud voice during the trailers and just as loud during the silent part between trailers since apparently the high volume of surround sound had rendered her completely unaware of her own volume. It got to the point where Dad literally had to stand up in his seat, turn around, lean toward her and ask her (somewhat politely) to keep it down. I think he scared the hell out of her, because there was nary a peep during the entire movie.

And that certainly helped our enjoyment of what I thought was a pretty good film. It's one of those comedies you have to go into with the expectation that it's going to get a little silly, and with that in mind, I really enjoyed it. There were at least two dozen snicker-out-loud moments and a few more genuine belly laughs. Steve Carell was at his usual high level, though there were times where you couldn't help but think it was Michael Scott as a secret agent. Even The Rock (oh,  it's Dwayne Johnson now) was genuinely funny. Meanwhile, my already-strong crush on Anne Hathaway was dramatically intensified in this one. She looked fantastic. Thank God she made this movie too. There are only so many times you can watch "The Devil Wears Prada" on HBO before people start questioning your masculinity. And there are only so many times you can watch the nude scene in "Havoc" before they start questioning both your taste and your creepiness level. 

(By the way, my girlfriend does read this blog and politely endures my ever-growing list of celebrity crushes. God bless that girl.)

Updated June 23 at 2:51 p.m.

In my never-ending quest to make traveling as sweat-inducing as possible, I managed to inadvertently provide myself with a deja vu moment on my way out of Ottawa yesterday. I had the luxury of a 12:43 p.m. flight time, meaning I could take my sweet time getting up in the morning. Unfortunately, I took it a little too far, and got in the cab for the 20-minute ride to the airport around 11:30. It was right before I left my hotel room that it occurred to me that Ottawa to the U.S. is an international flight and aren't you supposed to arrive at least an hour early (is it two hours?) for an international flight?

So, I was mildly stressed as I rode in the cab to the airport and the driver told me his life story about growing up in Ottawa, moving to Boston for his formative years and then moving back to Ottawa for college (or "university" as they call it there). It was an interesting flashback to the last time I headed to the Ottawa airport, yet another time when I was worried I'd miss the flight back to the States.

I was mildly stressed when I got out of the cab and exchanged a rare handshake with the driver before heading into the terminal. And that mild stress turned into genuine frustration as the one Delta counter girl was taking her sweet time running through the half dozen people in line. I finally got up to the counter with a pretty good level or perspiration going -- partly from the tension and partly from the crappy hotel room coffee I was drinking in line. Despite how long she seemingly took with each of the people before me, she took about 30 seconds checking me in and printing my ticket, and I was through to the other side.

So, I worried for nothing (and now I'm realizing this story sucks.). And unlike the last time, there were no coaches or GMs sitting in the front of the plane judging me. There was a little more sweating during my layover in Atlanta (don't ask), where the trek to my connecting gate was complicated and lengthy even before they changed the gate and no one seemed to know where it was. However, I did learn something from this experience. If you're ever walking through an airport (or even when you're on the plane) and you have an iPod with you, I highly recommend listening to the soundtrack from "Garden State." I swear it makes you feel like you're in the middle of a movie.

Aside from the internet access dying for extended periods of time on both days, I thought the Draft was a pretty successful one. Of course, the Ducks won't know just how successful they were for at least a couple of years, but when you come away from any Draft with 10 players, you've got to be pretty satisfied. And first among those players was Jake Gardiner, who you can read a little more about in this story, which was sent to me by the author herself.

I also can't say enough good things about the city of Ottawa, which has to be one of the more underrated places in North America. When you consider the sites around the downtown area (including the Parliament building and a number of cool little sidestreet mall areas) and the abundance of great places to eat and drink, it's really not a bad place to spend a few days. If we had to come back here for, say, another Stanley Cup Final, I wouldn't be too disappointed about that.

There is still no word from Scott Niedermayer so far today. I love how I get emails from fans asking if I have anything to report about him or Teemu. Don't you think if I did you'd see it here first? It's almost like they expect me to write back, "Well, don't tell anybody, but I'm hearing..." Funny stuff.

Apparently, Brian Burke told season ticket holders at last night's first night of Select-a-Seat that he hopes to hear from Scotty by the end of the week. He also apparently indicated he feels both Scotty and Teemu will be coming back.

Speaking of Select-a-Seat, our resident celebrity Kent French just came by my office and told me a fan approached him thinking he was me. They told him they loved his blog and that they hoped he made it back from Ottawa okay. And instead of correcting them, he just nodded along. So, my apologies to the confused fan. But I'm extremely flattered you thought I was as good-looking as Kent French.

I will, however, be at Select-a-Seat tonight if anyone wants to come by and say hello and tell me they love me on Ducks TV.

Despite the reports suggesting the Ducks were interested in the Sedin twins, I'm hearing that Vancouver has no interest in trading them. Even if they were, fitting them under the Ducks cap would be nearly impossible. The suggestion I read that there were talks of packaging them for the Ducks' No. 12 and Bobby Ryan was beyond ludicrous.

Here's a piece of news you would have never expected to see a year ago at this time: Ray Emery just cleared waivers after no NHL teams claimed him, and the Senators have bought out his contract. How sad is this little quote from Ottawa GM Bryan Murray, who said he attempted to trade Emery this week, but couldn't get anyone to bite? "And I wasn't looking for much," Murray said. Ouch.

Hear that, Kings? You interested? They surprised nobody by putting once-good-but-not-anymore goalie Dan Cloutier on waivers. That move you could have seen coming, but I was a little surprised they let Michael Cammalleri go to Calgary during the weekend in exchange for draft picks. Cammalleri and the Kings apparently had some ugly contract negotiations last summer, and he was hurt for much of last year (only scoring 19 goals). But I've admired his game the past two seasons. Here was his take on the trade: "There were a lot of rumors, so I was a little more tuned in on the draft than usual ... They said, 'We have a trade to announce.' Then when they did, it was like, 'Hey I know that guy.' "

I can't believe I hadn't seen this before, but I came across this commercial for Kings player figurines. I honestly don't know what to say about this. I can't figure out why this team hasn't made the playoffs in five years.

I've gotten a couple of emails from women wondering if I'm going to be watching this new hockey-themed soap opera called "MVP" on SoapNet. Come on, people. I may watch "The Hills." I may watch "American Idol." I may admit to enjoying the occasional Carrie Underwood song. But I'm not a woman, for the love of God.

Last thing. I was more than a little shocked to hear of the passing of 71-year-old George Carlin from a heart attack yesterday. He was unquestionably one of the most introspective funny guys who ever lived. I've poured through a few of his books and while they provided endless laughs, they also made me fascinated by the way his mind worked. He'll definitely be missed.

Updated June 21 at 2:08 p.m.

Stop the presses. The Ducks have picked up Philadelphia's seventh-round pick in exchange for the Ducks' seventh-round pick in 2009. Not exactly a blockbuster. Anyway, the Ducks use it on defenseman Nick Pryor of the U.S. Development Program and originally from Woodbury, Minnesota (which sounds like the kind of town where you know your mailman's name).

Minutes later, we hit Detroit's pick, the final one of the final round and 211th overall. And even though they take their sweet time making it (citing B.S. computer problems), they finally take ... again, who gives a damn? I'm not all that sad to say it:

This ... thing ... is ... over!

I feel like I just finished a marathon. Except I'm not sweaty. I'm not even winded. And I'm not any thinner. In fact, I ate a turkey sandwich while it was going on. But I am drinking water. 

We'll have more on the Ducks Day 2 picks later.

Updated June 21 at 1 p.m.

The Ducks made what should be their final selection of the Draft (they have no fifth and sixth round picks) by taking defenseman Stefan Warg of Sweden, who has to have one of the top-five names in this Draft.

Meanwhile, the older I get the younger these draftees look.

Actually, this kid is one of the 30 assigned to each team's table to serve as runners, trash thrower-awayers, etc.

So, it appears the Ducks are done, since I'm staring at our table and the guys appear to be sitting back in their chairs chatting with each other. Something tells me the conversations are not revolving around the next available Swedish winger.


Updated June 21 at 12:22 p.m. (Ottawa time)

So they finally managed to wake up the hamster in the wheel here in Scotiabank and we have restored the internet connection. This time I'm confident it will last. (And now it will go down within minutes). That being said, there isn't really enough interesting stuff going on here to warrent a Day 2 live Draft blog. So, any thoughts that come to mind the rest of the day I will jot down here.

You'll see the Ducks made six picks in the second and third rounds, including three centers, a d-man and a goalie. In the first round it seemed the Ducks' needs were all about the blueline, but they've gone a slightly different direction on Day 2.

When you consider the picks the Ducks got from Edmonton, combined with the recent trade of Marc-Andre Bergeron and yesterday's deals, Anaheim turned the loss of Dustin Penner into picks Jake Gardiner, Nicolas Deschamps, Eric O'Dell, Justin Schultz and Brandon McMillan. (I can explain the Bergeron connection in more detail, but I'll hold off). We won't know if that pans out for a couple of years for any of them, but for now that looks promising.

The most intriguing development of the fourth round came when Carolina took Michael Jordan at No. 105. I found that pretty curious until I realized it was actually Michal Jordan of Zlin in the Czech Republic. What is it with Czech people having names similar to athletes? I once briefly dated a Czech girl named Jana (pronounced YA-na), and on our first date I had forgotten her last name from when I had met her days before. At one point she said, "Do you remember my last name?" And my memory triggered the only Jana I had ever heard of, tennis player Jana Novotna. So, I jokingly said, "Novotna?" And she said, "Yeah. You did remember!"

I admitted I was kidding when I guessed that, but she showed me her driver's license and sure enough her name was Jana Novotna. Strange.

Updated June 21 at 10:36 a.m. (Ottawa time)

After yet another problem connecting to the internet at Scotiabank Place, we’re back at it today, in what feels like just a few hours after we ended things last night. Things will be much different today, as we’ll roll through the picks much faster than yesterday.  No one’s coming to the stage and posing for pictures and each pick will be within a minute of each other. And, unlike yesterday, half as much of you will be following along, considering we’re past the first round and you’re not looking for an alternative to actual working at your desk.

Since the connection is so dicey again today, I'm putting the live draft blog on the shelf for now (for the six of you still paying attention). But you can follow this thing with live streaming video.

Updated June 21 at 3:01 a.m. (Ottawa time)

Now, that's what you call a long day.

I knew we would be in trouble during the first round when about 1 1/2 hours had gone by and only six picks had been made. Part of the delay was caused by NHL general managers making more trades than two hyperactive 12-year-old boys with brand new packs of baseball cards.

Of the 30 picks in the first round, only 12 were made by the team that originally held that slot, and the Ducks were guilty of contributing to that trend -- twice. They dealt their 12th pick to the Kings for the 17th and 28th, as part of that deal that saw L.A. deal a very good player in Mike Cammalleri to Calgary for a couple of picks. (I'm still shaking my head over that one.)

Then after the Ducks took cool-named Jake Gardiner (see the well-written feature on him) at 17, they dumped the 28th pick to Phoenix for the 35th and 38th.

Meanwhile, as all this was going on, I and the rest of the members of the media area (including rival website guys) had an internet connection that went from spotty to non-existent. And, you know, having an internet connection is a fairly important part of my job. It's one of those things you don't truly appreciate until it's gone. And as you can tell midway through my live Draft blog, I wasn't too pleased.

Many of us publicly wondering how the Sens and/or the NHL wasn't prepared for hundreds of media and execs trying to connect to the internet simultaneously. Eventually, the guy sitting next to me from Atlanta somehow discovered a public Wi Fi connection we could hook up to, which we kept to ourselves so as not to cause the traffic jam that plagued us the first time. That allowed me to finish strong, or at least stumble to the finish line when the thing finally ended just short of 11 p.m.

Here's hoping things are a little better tomorrow, when people care a lot less.

I'm sure I have much more to say about today, but if you take a look at the time listed at the top of the page, you can imagine the screen is getting a little blurry for me. I need to head to bed while resisting the urge to pick up the phone for room service and subside on the three cold chicken fingers I snagged from the Ducks suite at the arena. (Man, what is it about chicken fingers? Are they just the best food in the world or what? That and a really good room service club sandwich. Heaven.)

Okay, I really need to get to bed.

Until tomorrow.

Updated June 20 at 6:50 p.m. (Ottawa time)

We're just about to start this thing, so I'll move you over to the Live Draft Blog for the rest of the night. Just before this thing starts, I'm hearing that the Ducks will move down from the 12th spot and get an extra pick in the first round. Stay tuned for more on that.

One last thing: Luke Scott Niedermayer was born this afternoon to Scott and Lisa at 9 pounds, 1 ounce.

Updated June 20 at 6:14 p.m. (Ottawa time)

We're coming to you live from Scotiabank Place, where the NHL Entry Draft is set to begin in less than an hour. Here is a look at the draft floor just a few minutes ago.

Getting here was, to go along with my history, a bit of an adventure. I stepped on the bus only to find Randy Carlyle sitting in the front seat. I commented to him something like, "Can't I get on a freakin' bus without seeing you in the front seat?" He responded something about how I didn't get the memo about what time we were leaving (even though the bus didn't roll out for another 10 minutes).

Then, what was supposed to be about a 30-minute bus ride turned into an hour with the rush hour traffic. It's hard to believe it, but traffic in Orange County at 4:30 is better than in Ottawa. We finally arrived at just before 6, and that's when the reminiscing started. The loading dock area where the Ducks bus pulled in for Games 3 and 4, drew some flashbacks. The fenced area above the ramp where Senators fans yelled at us a year ago. The players parking area where Ray Emery's car sat back then, a bright orange "hey-look-at-me" sports car that kind of reflected him. Flashy, but low gas mileage.

By the way, that reminds me of a joke I keep forgetting to write: Are the Kings allowed to sell Ray Emery jerseys yet or do they have to actually wait until they sign him?

Anyway, walking through these halls definitely brought back some memories, then arriving on the floor brought back memories of ... last year's Draft in Columbus. It's amazing how they make it look exactly the same.

On my way here, I got a phone call from a friend who doesn't have a tremendous hockey knowledge and the conversation went something like this:

Him: "Where are you right now?"
Me: "I'm in Ottawa."
Him: "Did they trade you?"

My live draft blog will be located on a separate page from this one, and I'll hit you with a link when we get closer to starting this thing. Also, just want to clarify something from before. The preview show, which is going on right now, is streaming live video. But the actual draft will only have audio.

Back later.


Updated June 20 at 11:10 a.m. (Ottawa time)

After four-and-a-half hours of flight time to Atlanta and another three to shoot up north, I finally made it to Ottawa at around 11:30 last night. Strangely enough, it was my first time flying since traveling with the team in April (trips to Monterey and Vegas this offseason have been all driving), so it was my first time flying commercial in several months. And I first started to realize that when I waited in the security line -- and the people in front of me weren't professional hockey players. I noticed it when I actually had to share my row with two dudes on the first flight, as I spent most of it trying not to touch the leg of the guy next to me with my leg (especially after he ordered the double Jack and Coke). I noticed it when they asked us to pay for food on the flight, and I shelled out eight bucks for a lousy chicken sandwich and something that I think was cole slaw. And I noticed it even more when the kids behind me kept banging into my seat as they played loudly behind me, and when I turned around to ask them to stop, I was surprised to see their mom was instigating the whole thing. She apologized ... and it was a whole 5 minutes before the seat kicking started up again.

The one positive of that first flight was that each seat came equipped with TVs, and I flipped between "Seinfeld" and the ESPNews ticker, wondering if I would see a news flash involving the words "Scott" and "Niedermayer" in it. Alas, it never came.

During my layover in Atlanta, I was pleased to check my ticket and see that I was in the 12th row, which made me think my boarding and disembarking would be easier than the last flight, when I was in the 36th. Imagine my surprise when I noticed the plane was a tiny jet that only had 12 rows (14 on the other aisle) and that I was in prime real estate, butted up against the bathroom. 

After finally arriving in Ottawa and going through customs, I got my first indication that I was indeed in the right place. Near the luggage carousels was a giant banner that read, "Welcome to the 2008 NHL Entry Draft." I must have looked like the strangest tourist Ottawa has ever seen when I took a picture of that banner.

The trip to the hotel came via one of the nicest cabs I've ever had the pleasure to ride in. It's also the first cab I've seen that had XM radio in it. When I mentioned that to the driver, he told me in his heavy French accent that all the cabs in Ottawa had it now. He also pointed out the dashboard camera that was installed recently, and I wondered if I was on the Canadian version of HBO's "Taxicab Confessions." But he said it was put there for security reasons, in case a driver got attacked and because "one driver was accused of sexual assault not too long ago." It was at that point that I checked my door to make sure it was unlocked. The driver then proceeded to tell me he didn't like the camera because "it makes it hard to pick up girls ... and hookers."

I mentioned I was in town for the Draft and that I worked for the Ducks and he quickly said, "Oh, we hate the Ducks here," since they beat the Sens in the Final last year. He said he cried at the end of Game 5 and said that series would have gone a lot differently if the Sens had held their lead in Game 1. I couldn't argue with him there.

It was strange to head the other way down the same roads I was on a year earlier, through rain and rush hour traffic, hoping to catch the rest of the Ducks at the airport. (For an explanation of that, see yesterday's post.) This time it was just a little more of a relaxing ride.

I arrived at the official hotel and was greeted by a bellman wearing a red polo with the NHL Entry Draft logo on it. Meanwhile, the front desk had five jerseys hanging on the wall behind it, which included the Sens and one with the NHL Entry Draft logo. The other three were the Ducks, the Kings and the Blues. I spent most of the night trying to figure out the significance of that combination. I'm wondering if when I go down there this morning they will have different jerseys up there. I'll keep you posted on that development. (Update: I think it's because people from those organizations are staying here. You'd think I would have figured that out.)

I spent the rest of the night getting a couple of beers with Ducks staffers and others. Going to bars at the Draft is a strange sensation, since you never know who you're going to see next. You look to your left and there's Dallas coach Dave Tippett sitting at a table in the corner. Then Mike Babcock is standing next to you at another bar, laughing with some of the Ducks staffers he worked with in the purple and jade days. And then there are even stranger sites. Since I hadn't eaten since lunchtime, I grabbed a Polish dog at a permanent stand near one of the bars, and it was served by an attractive woman in her 30s. When was the last time you saw an attractive woman working a hot dog stand after midnight? When was the last time you saw an attractive woman working a hot dog stand at any time? And no, I'm not counting the teenagers in the silly hats that work at Hot Dog on a Stick at the mall. (I'm such a tool that I actually Googled "Hot Dog on a Stick" to see if the word "On" is capitalized. If they ever tracked my Google searches at Ducks headquarters, it would make their head spin.)

With that healthy late-night meal still in my stomach, and this incredible view of the Parliament building out my hotel window, I sit here with eight hours until the first pick is made at 7:00 local time tonight. And as you can guess, still no word from Scott Niedermayer, though you might not want to hold your breath today. You may have already seen this, but since Scott's wife Lisa is giving birth to their fourth child at any moment, Burke has extended the deadline. "I told Scotty to take the weekend," Burke said. "He has to look after his family right now. We can wait until Monday. The operative date for us is July 1."

So obviously the Ducks' Draft strategy today can't hinge on whether or not Niedermayer comes back or retires, but regardless, they will likely be going after a defenseman in the first round. Niedermayer turns 35 in August (I know because I turn 35 three days earlier), Chris Pronger is 33, Sean O'Donnell is 36 and Mathieu Schneider is 38, the writing is on the wall for the Ducks to bring in some young blueliners. Mock drafts show at least five or six going before the Ducks pick at 12 (at least that's where they stand right now). But this Draft is heavy with defenseman, so chances are the Ducks will get a quality one. But I don't think you can rely on mock drafts, since TSN has the Ducks picking Swedish d-man Erik Karlsson with their 12th pick, and ESPN.com doesn't even have Karlsson going in the first round.

The Ducks will have some new blood at their Draft table tonight -- and another former Vancouver GM -- as Dave Nonis has joined the team as a senior advisor (we'll have an official announcement later). Nonis and Burke worked together with the Canucks, and Nonis is apparently being given a deal that will allow him to leave Anaheim if he receives a better offer elsewhere. (Brian Burke has no such deal -- for this coming season at least.) Nonis spent six years with Vancouver as senior vice president and director of hockey operations before taking over for Burke as GM in 2004. But he was relieved of those duties after the Canucks missed the playoffs this past season.

You know how girls always want to tell you about the dream they had last night and how weird it was? That's when I usually tell them that to me, dreams are like photographs: If I'm not in them and no one's having sex, I'm not interested. That being said, I had a strange one last night. The Ducks were getting ready for a game, stretching and warming up, and Teemu Selanne walked by me and said, "You ready for this one, Adam?" A few minutes later, Niedermayer walked by and introduced himself to me as if meeting me for the first time. Even in my dreams I'm being humbled.

Again, we'll have good coverage of the Draft starting today, with live streaming video of the Predraft Show, audio of the first round (video is not available then because of rights issues) and my live blog (which I will link to later today). Stay tuned for more here later in the day.

Updated June 18 at 3:51 p.m.

Just a reminder that I will be at the NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa starting late tomorrow night, doing a full report from over there. That will include a live blog of the goings-on during the first round Friday and subsequent rounds Saturday. For a taste of what it looked like during the draft days last year, take a look (and make sure you read from the bottom up). I'll also have daily postings on anything that is of interest around Ottawa.

As you could probably guess, it will be my first time in Ottawa since the Ducks won Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final there 3-2 on a Dustin Penner third-period goal. Two days later they won the Cup in Game 5 at Honda Center. This time around, I hope to arrive in Ottawa a little less frazzled than how I left it. The morning after that Game 4, I misjudged the time we were leaving the hotel for the airport, only to get a frantic "get on the bus!" call from a co-worker while I had a face full of shaving cream. I rushed out of my hotel room only to watch through the third-floor window as both busses pulled out of the parking lot. I jumped in a courtesy shuttle as the driver weaved through the rush-hour traffic, following two busses that had the distinct advantage of a police escort. We made the airport just in time, and while still sweating through my suit, I tried to quietly slide into the security line, hoping only a few people had noticed.

That hope was squashed when I walked on the plane and was immediately met by the faces of Brian Burke and Randy Carlyle sitting at the front of the plane, both of whom just shook their heads at me like disappointed fathers. "What's the f---in' fine for that one?" Burkie said to no one in particular.

Two nights later the Ducks won the Cup, and everyone on the staff celebrated in a VIP tent in the Honda Center parking lot. At one point in the night, I saw a champagne-soaked Randy Carlyle walk through the tent, wearing a Stanley Cup Champions t-shirt under his suit. I walked up to him and congratulated him on winning the Cup. He looked me right in the eye, and with a fake look of disgust on his face said, "You sure you didn't f---in' sleep through it?" The picture we took 30 seconds later still hangs on my office bulletin board, and I think of that line every time I look at it.

Things will be a little different in Ottawa this time around, as instead of securing their place in history, the Ducks will be building on their future. Regardless, I'm looking forward to seeing that place one more time, and doing some serious reminiscing.

Updated June 17 at 4:09 p.m.

I just got back from speaking to four different fourth-grade classes at Laguna Niguel Elementary about what it's like to work for the Ducks. Want an ego boost? Try speaking to 120 fourth-graders about something they're interested in, as they sit on the floor looking up at you. You ask if there are any questions and countless hands shoot up at the same time. And those questions ranged from "Do you get to go to every game?" to "How much did Honda pay for the naming rights to the Pond?" (I'm paraphrasing, but I'm not kidding. I told that kid I had to look that one up and I'd get back to him.)

A few others:

- "Why do the Ducks fight all the time?" (I had trouble with this one, since I worried about encouraging kids to settle their differences by grabbing someone's shirt and punching them in the face several times.)

- "How many losses did the Ducks have last year?" (I couldn't quite remember, beyond the four they had in the postseason. One kid raised his hand and said, "It's 27." He also later told me that he determined through researching the website that I have written 247 stories since I started working for the Ducks. I wasn't sure what to think about that one.)

- "Why did they change from Mighty Ducks to Ducks?" (The words "because Mighty Ducks was silly" never left my mouth.)

- "How did the Ducks choose their colors?"

- "How do they count the number of fans who come into the arena for Ducks games?"

- "What made you want to become a writer?"

- "You said you wanted to be a baseball player when you were in fourth grade. Why did you stop?" (Because they asked me to.)

- "Um, my friend and I play hockey."

When I was done about 20 of them surrounded me, some to ask more questions, but most to get ahold of the Ducks-logoed foam pucks I brought as rewards for answering questions. And here is where I felt like a celebrity, because as they kids were practically nose-to-nose with me, I took a step back. And they took a step forward. A few seconds later, I took another step back. And they took another step forward.

But aside from that slight fear for my life, it was a great experience (the second time I've spoken to kids at that school). So a big thanks to the fourth-graders and teachers at Laguna Niguel Elementary for making my day, if not my month.

I was sorry to hear that Al Coates will be leaving the Ducks for the position of director of player personnel with Toronto. Al is just about the nicest guy you would ever want to meet and was a big part of this franchise for the last six years. You hear nothing but good things about him around the Ducks offices. It doesn't appear that Coates' position will be replaced in the Ducks front office, which maybe is appropriate. You'll definitely be missed around here, Al.

And for those of you who are looking at this move as a sign that Brian Burke is headed to Toronto, think again. There are plenty of other signs (as much as it hurts to admit it), but this isn't one of them. Nevertheless, it's fueled speculation (huge surprise) from Canadian media, just as the Leafs' coaching hiring of old Burkie buddy Ron Wilson did a week ago. But interim GM Cliff Fletcher worked with Coates for more than a decade in Calgary, so it's an understatement to say they go way back.

Burke was in studio on the NHL Live radio show this morning (simulcast on XM and the NHL Network) and was inevitably asked about the Toronto job. He repeated there is absolutely no problem in Anaheim and that he is honoring the last year of this four-year deal. But he did say that with his kids on the East Coast, he has to consider opportunities to get closer to them. "My family comes first and I won't apologize for that," he said.

Burke on being able to re-sign Corey Perry: "We're at risk for an offer sheet starting on the 1st [when the free agency period begins], but Corey Perry has been pretty empathic that he'd like to stay, and we're comfortable and confident we'll be able to get something done. There is no question we're at risk for an offer sheet, but he's got to sign that offer sheet. He's got to want to go there. Everything he has told me and that his agent has told me is that he wants to stay. He gets to play with Ryan Getzlaf and that's a pretty special thing."

Burke also said that he expects to hear from Scott Niedermayer in the next two or three days, since he gave him a June 20 deadline (the first day of the Draft) to make a decision on whether he's coming back or not. He also maintained that Teemu Selanne can't be given a deadline because he's once again a free agent. My gut feeling? They're both in Ducks uniforms come the fall.

Details have emerged on just how the Red Wings dented the Cup last week, which apparently was a lot more than a dent. And, get ready for this, there was alcohol involved. Apparently Chris Chelios stood with it on top of the bar in his own Cheli's Chili and dropped it. But I mean, cut Chelios some slack. That thing weighs 35 pounds. I'd like to see your grandpa lift something that heavy.

The story also points out that George Parros somehow damaged the Cup right before the Ducks victory parade last year, and that it "had to be disassembled and rebuilt in a matter of moments. There's apparently something called 'The Parros Dent' still visible on the Cup."

I remember hearing something about the Ducks denting it, but I hadn't heard that story until now. Update: Reader Karen reminded me about this photo, which brings to light some pretty damning evidence.

And finally, Ducks play-by-play guy John Ahlers just got married last weekend (sorry, ladies). Don't you think this is a shady way to pay for the wedding?

Updated June 16 at 11:22 a.m.

I've been out of town for a few days, so my apologies for the lack of production. I'll get back to it Tuesday.

In the meantime ... Come on, Rocco.

Updated June 12 at 11:07 a.m.

The NHL will announce the winners of its end-of-the-season honors tonight at the 2008 NHL Awards Show in Toronto, which will air live on VERSUS at 7 p.m. Eastern. (Sorry I didn't mention it sooner so you could set your DVRs.) There will be as many Ducks represented at the ceremony as will be in my living room tonight. Though Anaheim was represented last year by Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Sammy Pahlsson, none were nominated this year for the awards that include the Hart Trophy (league MVP, which I think you can give to Alexander Ovechkin), the Vezina (top goaltender), Norris (top defenseman), Calder (top rookie) and others.

If the NHL were to give out an award for Stupidest Thing Written About the NHL ... Possibly Ever, the hands-down winner would be this story printed Monday in the National Post (which is pretty much the USA Today of Canada). The story, which curiously had no byline attached to it, contends that the NHL shouldn't get too keyed up by the positive momentum it's generating with attendance figures, T.V. ratings and revenue that reached their highest points in years. Despite this, the anonymous writer argues, the NHL needs to become "smaller" by shutting down some franchises and relocating others to -- big surprise -- Canada. "Until the league gets smaller -- pulls franchises from two or three cities, and relocates two or three others -- the sport will never be as profitable as it could," it says.

But wait, there's more. It points out that while T.V. ratings were way up for the marquee Detroit-Pittsburgh Final, that could easily have been a fluke. It says, "Last year, when the Ottawa Senators were being swept in four games by the Anaheim Ducks, softball bettered hockey among American viewers." And then a few lines later: "If next year's final feature the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Phoenix Coyotes, for example, expect ratings to go right back into the tank."

Should you be allowed to write about the NHL if you clearly know nothing about hockey? First of all, I think we all know the Ducks didn't sweep the Senators last year. Secondly, it's highly unlikely Columbus and Phoenix will face off in the Final in the near future. Not because they're not very good teams, but BECAUSE THEY'RE IN THE SAME CONFERENCE.

The story goes on to claim that, "Professional hockey is still the only major sport without a lucrative TV contract in the United States."

Are you sure about that? What's your definition of lucrative? Why do you think the NHL insists on getting into bed with VERSUS for the past several years? For the exposure?

Here's where the story gets personal. It claims that "Hockey does not play well in these hot-weather locations," though it does list California and Tampa Bay as an exception. But, it says, those cities "count on plenty of ex-pat and vacationing Canadians to fill seats." Really? Last time I checked, the Anaheim Ducks sold 15,000 season tickets last season and were sold out for every single game. I don't recall a bunch of fans on vacation from Manitoba walking around Honda Center. And I can tell you the same is true in L.A. and San Jose.

Granted, you can make a case for the struggles of organizations in warm-weather locales like Phoenix, Florida, Nashville and Atlanta. But the tie that binds those teams is that they all -- to put it in layman's terms -- suck. Among them, only Nashville has been to the playoffs more than once since 2002, and the Preds have been undergoing some uncertainty about their ownership and whether they will even be in Nashville in the near future. The bottom line is, if you're not very good, people don't come to see you. It is interesting the story didn't mention the lousy attendance for teams like the Islanders. But I guess the fact that Long Island isn't in a "hot-weather location" hinders the already-weak argument the story makes.  

The underlying theme of the piece is that for the good of the league, a handful of teams need to be moved to Canadian cities. If Canada is such a strong base for NHL teams, why don't you ask the people of Winnipeg and Quebec City how their teams are doing?

Look, I know the NHL still has a very long way to go to catch the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball. And getting close to those three could be a long way off. But the progress the NHL showed this season was a major step in the right direction, and it bodes very well for the state of a game that just three years ago couldn't have been in much worse shape if all the pucks in the world had been melted down.

So hey, National Post, leave the NHL alone for the time being. And if you can't, at least do some freakin' research.

Speaking of the future of the league, I got a laugh out of this photo NHL.com used as part of its NHL Entry Draft coverage. It's for a story on the top goalies in the Draft, but doesn't this photo scream Four Youths Kill Local Homeless Man to you?

There has been plenty of news in Ducks land over the past couple of days, starting with the trade of Marc-Andre Bergeron to Minnesota for a third round pick. Though he didn't have a lot of time here to show it, Bergeron is a good offensive defenseman with a rocket of a shot, but I don't think he has enough in him defensively to fit into the Ducks' plans. And could the shipping out of one Ducks defenseman indicate anything regarding the possible return of another Ducks defenseman? We'll see. What is obvious is that trading Bergeron (who made $1.197 million this past season) appears to be a move to free up money to sign a certain blonde winger next month.

Interestingly enough, Bergeron came to the Ducks on Feb. 26 from the Islanders in exchange for Anaheim's third-round pick. That pick turned out to be the 83rd overall, and the pick the Ducks got from Minnesota for Bergeron on Tuesday is the 85th. So essentially, the Ducks borrowed Bergeron (who came in handy when Chris Pronger was suspended at the end of the year) for the right to drop just two slots in the draft. Not bad.

Meanwhile, I was quite pleased to see Jonas Hiller locked up for the next two seasons after there was some discussion that Hiller could be signed away by either an NHL team or one overseas. After Hiller got a feel for the NHL life last season, you could make the argument that he was one of the best goalies in the entire league. Don't believe me? His .952 save percentage and 1.55 goals against average in the last month of the season was second among all NHL goalies. He proved himself to be a more-than-capable backup to J.S. Giguere, who turned 31 last month and hasn't played more than 60 games the last three seasons. That leaves 20-something games a year where the Ducks lean on their No. 2 goalie, and they have to be very comfortable that Hiller will continue to be that guy.

The one person not all that thrilled with the news of the signing? J.S. Aubin, whom the Ducks picked up at the last trade deadline and might have gotten a shot up here if Hiller had departed. And Aubin took his anger out on Ryan Miller after he heard the news. 

Making a little less of a splash yesterday was the re-signing of Andrew Ebbett, whom Ducks fans only saw up here for a very short time last season. But Ebbett was the leading scorer for a very good Portland Pirates team and was sixth in the AHL in assists. You'll be seeing him up hear a lot more in the near future.

I still cringe seeing the Red Wings haul our Cup around, but this story about Chris Osgood bringing it to the Corona Del Mar home of exercise industry pioneer Augie Nieto was a nice one. Nieto is a former weightlifter who has become slowly paralyzed by ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease), and Detroit Owner Mike Illitch had promised him some time with the Cup if the Wings won it.

On an unrelated note, the latest sign that the world might be coming to an end is the announcement that Jo De La Rosa and Slade Smiley, formerly of "The Real Housewives of Orange County," will star in a spin-off entitled, "Date My Ex: Jo & Slade." The show, which premiers July 21 with a "sneak peek" on June 30, will feature the former couple, who now live separately in L.A. after once sharing a place in Coto de Caza. "The new show will feature several suitors who go out on setup dates with De La Rosa. In a bizarre twist, the men must all live with Smiley, who will grill each one and help decide which one is most suitable for his ex-fiancée."

Apparently the loser each week will be forced to listen to a loop of that godawful song Jo recorded during her final season on the show. Okay, that part's not true, but reportedly her "singing career" is in full gear, and she has a sound the story calls, "a highly produced blend of pop and R&B, with an urban, contemporary edge." Emphasis on the words highly produced, which is code for, "You won't even recognize her voice when we get through with this thing. It will make the vocals on 'Mr. Roboto' sound like a folk ballad." Apparently, there is a summer release planned for her first single, "You Can't Control Me." I guess "You're Not the Boss of Me" was already taken.

Today's latest edition of the self-indulgent photo is of my new nephew Brady, who was born Tuesday. First day of his life and he's already got more hair than half of my friends. This item has already been purchased.

Updated June 10 at 1:14 p.m.

Don't you hate it when the plot points of a movie are so unrealistic, so utterly outrageous, it just ruins the whole thing?

Take, for example, the soon-to-be-released "The Love Guru," starring Mike Myers and Jessica Alba. Myers plays Pitka, a "love guru" who devotes his life to helping couples. His challenge in the film is to "settle the romantic troubles and subsequent professional skid of a star hockey player whose wife left him for a rival athlete." Pitka is asked to serve as guru to Toronto Maple Leafs star Darren Roanoke, who struggles on the ice after his wife begins dating an L.A. Kings star played by Justin Timberlake. The Leafs owner is played by none other than Jessica Alba (before she ruined herself by having a baby) and is coached by Verne Troyer, a.k.a. Mini Me. Meanwhile, Pitka comes equipped with some mystical gifts, including (as seen in the painfully unfunny trailer) the ability to put both of his feet behind his head

But those aren't the really unrealistic parts. How about the fact that the movie depicts the Kings and Maple Leafs playing in the Stanley Cup Final. Take a look at this picture of Rob Blake, who supposedly has a cameo. A Stanley Cup Playoffs patch on a Kings jersey? That's preposterous. Doesn't look right, does it? I think it would be less bizarre to see a daisy on the front of an Oakland Raiders jersey.

I didn't get a chance on Friday to comment on Brian Burke being named GM of the T...

...eam USA. It's obviously a well-deserved honor for Burkie and one that obviously left him humbled when he spoke about it afterwards. "To get that phone call is one of the greatest thrills of my life," he said. "I was never good enough (as a player). Having not been a gifted enough player to represent the United States internationally, this is a great thrill to be able to do it at the management level. I was thrilled, honored, proud, flattered, grateful, all of the above."

Now the question is, will he still be a GM of an American team in 2010? Let's pray he is.

I only have one response to this piece of news: What took you so long? Maybe if the Kings had dumped him a few weeks (or even months) ago, they could have gotten a proven coach in Ron Wilson, who just signed a four-year deal with Toronto. (I wonder if Alba was a tough negotiator on that one.)

Love him or hate him, the NHL is just slightly less fun with the retirement of Wings goalie Dominik Hasek after 16 seasons. “I don’t feel today that I’m ready to compete on the highest level,” Hasek said. “Not because of the physical things, but because I need motivation every day. ... Right now I don’t feel it’s there, and I don’t want to disappoint anybody.” Hasek was replaced in net by Chris Osgood, who quickly became one of Detroit's heroes during their run to the Cup.

Our most recent memories of The Dominator include the late goals he let through in Game 5 and the rest of that conference final in '07. I'll personally miss that helmet that made him look like The Great Gazoo from "The Flinstones."

He's also part of one of the coolest Ducks photos from the past season.

Enjoy retirement, Dominator. And make sure you keep Chris Chelios' cell number. Something tells me he might be free for golf soon as well.

Speaking of Chelios, his Cheli's Chili Bar was the site of a Wings celebration in which the Stanley Cup was dented. Again, what the hell are these guys doing with our Cup? Something tells me, and I could be wrong, but I'm thinking alcohol may have been involved. The dent was apparently smoothed out (what do they use for that, like a plunger?) and according the NHL spokeswoman Bernadette Mansur, "the Cup has seen worse." Indeed it has. For being the most venerable trophy in sports, that thing has been treated worse than Tara Reid's liver. It's bad enough the thing has had to spend the last few nights in Detroit. I wouldn't wish that on anybody.

I just want to run this photo one more time. No reason.

On yet another personal note, I just had a nephew born today, to my sister Rachel and her husband, Dave. The boy's name is ... Brady. I can't wait to become a bad influence on him.

Updated June 6 at 10:49 a.m.

As anniversaries go, this one will always be a little bittersweet for me.

Two years ago on this day, my mom passed away after a year-long battle with cancer. One of my reasons for moving down here and taking this job in 2005 was to be closer to her and my dad in her final months. And I know she would have loved to see what I experienced in this building on the night of June 6, 2007. 

So you can imagine that when I watched Chris Pronger carrying the puck from behind the net with the seconds ticking down to zero, Ryan Getzlaf shaking his gloves off his hands like an excited little boy and jumping into J.S. Giguere's arms, the crowd noise reaching a level like none I'd ever heard before, fireworks popping, black and orange confetti falling from the sky and the victory song from "Rocky" coming on ... well, you can imagine it was a little emotional for me.

And my father -- the guy who grew up on the East Coast rooting for Gump Worsley, Rocket Richard and the New York Rangers, who played hockey through high school, who went to some of the first Mighty Ducks games in 1993 and remembers thinking the Pond was too pretty for a hockey arena -- was here that night. He was part of that roaring crowd, he saw the fireworks, picked confetti out of his hair (and still has some of it under glass at home), saw the Stanley Cup being passed around by the players on his favorite team -- his son's team. When all of it finally died down that night and he was heading out of the arena, I called him on his cell phone. He answered it with one word: 


For a nice reminder of that night and all that led up to it, take a look at this. I'm trying to see if there is a way that I can have this video looping on my office TV for the rest of my life.

Let me move on to something a little less stirring, since it's gotten kind of dusty in here (if you know what I mean). Last night I was able to attend a "Grand Opening Gala" for the great Strike bowling alley at The District in Tustin, which looks like a very cool place to not only bowl but eat, drink and watch games (definite Ducks watch party potential). The appeal of the event for me -- along with the free food and booze -- was the fact that the event was hosted by none other than Lauren Conrad of "The Hills," along with a couple of her castmates.

Although she was tucked away from the crowd for most of the night, I was able to take this picture with her. It's a rare shot of the two highest-profile Ducks bloggers. Enjoy.

And yes, I know I look a little creepy.

I hate to mention the Tiger-NHL battle again, but I couldn't pass this one up. D.J. Gallo of ESPN.com has a great reaction to it , though my first reaction to the letter is that I was upset I didn't come up with some of that stuff myself.

Scott Cullen has a very thorough examination of the Ducks' offseason game plan on TSN.

Last thing. As I walked in this morning, our receptionist had the Red Wings victory parade on the TV in the lobby. As she looked angrily at the screen she said, "What are they doing with our Cup?"

I'm with her. It was definitely hard to watch.

Updated June 5 at 2:54 p.m.

At 7:42 Pacific time last night, the inevitable became official: the Ducks are no longer the Stanley Cup champs.

And that which had seemed inevitable 10 days ago (or maybe longer) was finally made formal: that the Detroit Red Wings would take down the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Final. But in carrying on the theme of the last four games of what amounted to one of the most thrilling series in years, it came down to the wire again. The 3-1 lead Detroit carried into the final minutes of the game was nearly erased, as Marian Hossa slammed one through with the Pittsburgh net empty with 1:27 left to pull within a goal. Then with just seconds remaining and Detroit holding on for dear life, the Pens quickly made a last-ditch effort to shuttle the puck from their own zone into Detroit's, where they somehow ended up with a 2-on-1. Sidney Crosby's desperation backhander actually slipped through Chris Osgood, who dove for the loose disk as it trickled just wide of the net. Marian Hossa's follow-up attempt, which skittered across the crease, came just after time had expired.

It was a fittingly breathtaking ending to another fierce battle between the two teams, though the result was disheartening. How phenomenal would it have been if that last shot (by the most famous player in the game, no less) had gotten through with just a second left and forced overtime. Let's say somehow, like they did two nights prior, the Pens get another one in overtime to win it. You think Game 7 in Detroit wouldn't have been epic? You think the rest of the country, those who don't normally watch hockey, might tune into that one?

Alas, it just wasn't to be. And there was one other disappointing result of the end of that game: the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup.

I think I speak for most Ducks fans when I say I don't care for the Wings. I just don't. That being said, there wasn't a more deserving team this year than Detroit, and they showed even more what they're made of last night. That grinded-out victory meant that the Wings clinched every playoff series this year on the road. It's ironic that last year's champ (I forget who it was) clinched every series at home.

And that brings to mind what is probably our last instance this year of really appreciating what Ducks fans had last year. As the Red Wings skated the Cup around the Mellon Center ice to assorted boos and mostly polite applause, it made me truly appreciate even more that the Ducks won that thing at home last year. Ask any Ducks player last year and he'd tell you he didn't care where they won it, as long as they won it. But if you had your choice, there is nothing like winning that thing at home, holding it up in front of 17,000 screaming fans in an arena that has been prepped with lights, music, fireworks, etc. to bring such an occasion to life. Take a look at this video and you tell me if it would have been as electric if they had won that thing in Ottawa. Now take a look at this video, starting at about the 2:30 mark Not quite the same, is it?

I was initially surprised last night to see just how many white-clad Pittsburgh fans stuck around to watch the celebration, most of them still recovering from what went down in the closing seconds of the game. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. How many chances do you get to see a team, any team, hoist the Stanley Cup? How many chances do you get to just see the Cup itself? And you had to imagine those fans were standing there watching that and thinking, This could be our guys soon. Very soon. 

J.S. Giguere again provided some poignant commentary for the L.A. Times website and there is some good stuff in there. It's a reminder of what a bright, thoughtful guy he is. I've found that to be true in the handful of conversations I've had with him, and it's nice that he's been able to display that in another way during this Final.

Speaking of bright guys, the NHL Arena Program blog has an interview with me that was put up this morning. My apologies to anyone who went on there this morning expecting to see some thought-provoking commentary about last night's game and found my interview on there instead. I also apologize for the goofy picture (I knew I would regret sending them that one) and to anyone who saw the Cup this summer and were told they weren't allowed to lift it over their head. 

Last thing for now. I have been asked to remind those of you who are interested in renewing your season tickets that the deadline is tomorrow. Interesting that the deadline happens to be the one-year anniversary of...

We'll get to that tomorrow.

Updated June 4 at 12:38 p.m.

I'm not exactly motivated to write about hockey today since, according to Tiger Woods, nobody watches it anymore. Tiger was casually asked during a press conference about who he was rooting for in the Final and he laughed and said, "I don't really care. Let's talk about the Dodgers. "I don't think anybody really watches hockey anymore."

Talk about the Dodgers? Uh, let's not. I think I liked Tiger better when he was boring and noncommittal. I love how the NHL felt that it needed to respond, with league spokesman Frank Brown issuing this statement: "The National Hockey League has enormous respect for Tiger Woods, for all his accomplishments and for his work with the community. We think he's a great golfer."

I think they edited out this part: "That being said, we believe in this case he's being a tremendous d-----bag."

(P.S. How about some love for that Photoshop job on the right? Jack of all trades, ladies and gentlemen.)

Despite Tiger's opinion, I'm still not discouraged and there is plenty to talk about today. Game 6 of the Final should be a dandy tonight (although I'd hate to be wrong about that prediction too). Remember that despite their loss in Game 4 there last weekend, Pittsburgh is still 9-1 at home in these playoffs. And although I don't put much stock in momentum in the days between games, the Pens certainly have it now. All I know is, I would love to see a Game 7.

I liked this quote from Mike Babcock, who was 34.3 seconds away from the Cup on Monday night, only to see it snatched away. Babcock was also the Ducks coach when they lost in Game 7 of the Final to New Jersey in 2003.

"It's nice to be close to it," he said. "Be nicer to have it."

I've thought about this a few times in the last couple of weeks, but I believe I neglected to write it until now. As we speak, the clock is ticking on the Ducks being defending Stanley Cup champions. As soon as the final horn sounds on either Game 6 tonight or Game 7 on Saturday, the Ducks will just be the 2007 Stanley Cup champs, not reigning champs. And frankly, it's slightly depressing. 

Jeff Miller touched on this in a nice story in the Los Angeles Register of Orange County, which included this quote from Sean O'Donnell about watching Game 5 on Monday night: "They showed them bringing out the Cup and polishing it. "It was like, 'Hey, that's my Cup! You can't take that!' You start feeling jealous. You almost get angry."

I love that quote. The story also revealed that the 36-year-old O'Donnell got engaged this summer, a little piece of news that has elicited two disappointed emails to me from female readers so far this morning. It reminded me of the sentiment I wrote about last month when I heard that Scarlett Johansson got engaged, that my first instinct was to be crushed, as if I had a shot with her had she still been single.

I didn't get around to commenting yesterday on the Ducks moving their AHL affiliation from Portland to Iowa. Obviously it's a shame to have to move the team out of Portland, a city that has been great to the Pirates these last few seasons, and from what I can tell the Pirates have been good to them. But it's no secret the Ducks want to move the minor league teams further west, and Iowa is certainly a start. It's also no secret that this move is a steppingstone for what the Ducks ultimately want to do, which is move them out to California (possibly San Diego). So, thank you, Portland. It was a hell of a run. Hopefully you understand.

Now the next step is to get that logo and team name changed from Stars to ... we'll keep you posted on that later this summer. I personally would like to see them named the Ducks, like a handful of teams do with their affiliates. I just think it spreads the exposure of the parent team that much better. That being said, a reader named Charles brought to my attention the dangers of the parent club having too much influence on their affiliate's logo. Take a look at this one from the days when the Cleveland Barons were the affiliate of the ... actually, I think you can figure that one out on your own.

Dan Wood has a story in the Register this morning focusing on Brian Burke's busy offseason, which included announcing that affliation yesterday. Just prior to that, Burke was part of a series of meetings with NHL GMs at the Stanley Cup Final in which part of the focus was on the upcoming Entry Draft and what the Ducks want to do with that 12th selection. “We’re looking at trading up , trading down, roster moves. We’re looking at what we consider a lot of things," Burke said. "I don’t think you’re doing your job if you’re not exploring every avenue.”

Meanwhile, there are apparently rumors that Burke is doing more than just his job. A Toronto Sun columnist alleged yesterday, in light of the Leafs offering Burke's old friend Ron Wilson their coaching job, that Burke "may be unofficially calling the shots behind the scene for the Leafs."

Burke was asked to comment and simply said, "It's an absurd suggestion."

Maybe, but I was up in Burkie's office the other day asking him a question about the Ducks' salary cap for next season and he said, "Well, it depends on if Sundin comes back next season or not." When he saw I looked a little confused, he quickly said, "I mean, Niedermayer! NIEDERMAYER! Sorry about that."

Okay, that story was completely made up, but what is true is that Burke said about that rumors, "I don't think people in Anaheim are paying the slightest bit of attention to it."

Well, maybe a little bit of attention.  

Moving on to much more pressing issues: As if guys weren't already fond of Kristen Bell after her striking turn in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," here comes this interview from NHL.com in which she discusses what a huge hockey fan she is. Bell reveals that her first childhood crush was on ... wait for it ... I couldn't make this up ... Detroit goalie Chris Osgood. "Brad Pitt be damned," she says, "he had nothing on Osgood's rookie skill and sad eyes. There was actually a day in high school when I wrote on a name tag 'Mrs. Osgood' and wore it the whole day. I really thought we were perfect for each other."

That typing sound you hear coming from Osgood's hotel room is him Googling the words: Divorce Lawyers.

Bell was also asked what she would do if she had the Cup for a day. "I would start by eating an entire box of Fruity Pebbles out of it," she said. "Then I'd take an afternoon sponge bath in it."

I'm not envisioning that. I'm not envisioning that. I'm not ... dammit!


Updated June 3 at 1:48 p.m.

At the very last minute, turns out the fat lady was told to sit down and rest her voice for another day.

With the entire Red Wings team getting ready to rush the ice, with the Stanley Cup being lifted out of its case, with 18,000 red-clad fans ready to lose their minds, the Penguins shocked everyone when Max Talbot punched in a goal with just 34.3 seconds left to tie it 3-3. That was the payoff of the Pens pulling super-goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater, as they attacked the net for seemingly the first time all game. And 2 1/2 overtimes later, former Duck Petr Sykora won it with a power play goal 9:57 into the third extra session.

If this game didn't boost the popularity of NHL hockey to the fringe fan, then nothing will. You already had two marquee teams with plenty of talent doing battle with the Stanley Cup on the line. Then you have the underdog find a way to slip in a goal with less than a minute left. After that, you're looking at three thrilling sessions of the best pro sports has to offer -- the playoff overtime -- where one goal by the home team gives them the most cherished trophy in sports.

As if that wasn't compelling enough, the guy who scores the game-winning goal had been ratted out by the NBC announcers earlier as "calling his shot" and playfully predicting he'd be the hero. "Something stupid I said. Just, 'Guys, I'm just going to get one, so just don't worry about the game. I'm going to get the goal," Sykora said with slight embarrassment later.

That goal had to look familiar to Ducks fans, who might remember Syki bringing a 5 OT affair to a merciful end in Game 1 of the second round in '03. Ironically enough, Sykora's coach that year was Mike Babcock. "I hated to see Petr Sykora get that puck late," Babcock said last night. "You just know it's going in. He's that kind of guy. He won a game for me like that in Dallas in five overtimes."

Sykora was dealt by the Ducks about a month before the trading deadline in 2006 with a fourth-round pick to the Rangers for Maxim Kondratiev (who, you might remember, didn't exactly pan out). Nevertheless, Sykora was at the time an underperforming forward making $3.1 million and starting at free agency after that season. Brian Burke trading him was about as surprising as Tatum O'Neal's recent relapse.

Soon after Sykora's prediction was revealed on the broadcast, he committed a hooking call in front of the net late in the second overtime that I thought was pretty questionable considering how the game had been called up to that point. Thankfully it didn't cost Pittsburgh the game, as did Jiri Hudler's high-sticking that ironically came after Pittsburgh defenseman Rob Scuderi badly whiffed on an attempt to move the puck up ice and kept the puck.

That small blunder followed by a huge opportunity for the Pens was almost emblematic of Pittsburgh's ability to steal that game. Few in their right mind would disagree that Detroit deserved that one last night, as their 58-32 shots advantage was only one indication of how they were and are the better team. They move the puck better, they attack the puck better, they crash the net better. They did almost everything better than Pittsburgh last night -- except win. Meanwhile one of Pittsburgh's go-to guys, 21-year-old Evgeni Malkin, looks like he's out of gas, and that was unmistakeable last night.

The contrast in styles and aggression was especially evident last night, especially when you notice that Pittsburgh's defensemen seem to be afraid to roll the dice and pinch in the attacking zone under any circumstances. They're almost like dogs with those training collars on, where if they venture too far inside the blue line, they'll get a shock to the neck.

Meanwhile, their passive ways on defense made them lean heavily on their goaltender, who thankfully held up his end. Fleury had to wake up with vicious back soreness this morning, which is excusable for a guy who carried 19 guys on his back for several hours. Detroit had more scoring opportunities than Brad Pitt at a sorority mixer, but Fleury turned them away time and again, notably in those overtimes. His 55 saves included 24 in the overtimes, and Detroit's 58 shots were the most in a Stanley Cup Final game since 1998. Thanks to Fleury, the Pens dodged more bullets than Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix" and still came out unscathed. (Although, I was disappointed to find out that Fleury's nickname is "Flower," which is the English translation of the French word from which Fleury is derived. Not exactly a nickname that screams, Tough Hockey Player. To quote Chris Webber when he was playing at Michigan and found out the other team had a player named Tony "Slam" Duncan: "Man, if someone gave me that nickname, I'd give it back.")

As much as Detroit seemed to control this game, give Pittsburgh credit. Good teams win games they don't deserve to win, especially this time of year. That's exactly what they did last night. Of course, it's ironic that as many times as Fleury saved them, his team saved the game when he had already skated to the bench. The one time Fleury didn't look spectacular was when Detroit flipped the game on its side by scoring twice in a span of 2:40 in the third. That was when the "We Want the Cup!" chants started to pick up from the Joe Louis Arena faithful. Then with that astonishing goal near the end of regulation, their mantra switched to, "We Want ... to throw up."

I took some satisfaction in thinking that last night had to look slightly familiar to the pumped-up Detroit fans. It was a little more than a year ago when they were all set to take a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference Finals series with the Ducks when Scott Niedermayer flicked in a goal with just 47.3 left to tie it. Then of course Teemu Selanne won it for the Ducks in overtime. Of course, it was a different stage of the playoffs, a different stage in the series, but it's still two Game 5s seemingly stolen from the Wings at crucial times in the last two postseasons. Last year Detroit reacted by losing Game 6 and the series. We'll see how they bounce back this time.

I again got my share of emails last night and this morning with lines like of "You were wrong again!" or "Do NOT go to Vegas" or "You are a huge disappointment to me and always have been." (Okay, that last one was from my father. And he sends that a few times a week.) But yeah, I still think Detroit wins this thing. They're simply the better team. They just didn't do it last night. They might not do it tomorrow night back in Pittsburgh. If not, they'll probably do it in Game 7.

Let's just hope we get the chance to see that.

And by the way, I wasn't the only one to be fairly certain Detroit would take it last night. Brian Burke was part of the general managers meetings during the Final last night and was one of the few who stayed when most of the GMs headed out of town before the game. Burke insisted on staying, but not for the whole game. "I'm leaving after the second period," he said before the game. "I didn't say I was staying to see Detroit skate the Cup around."

Among the items discussed in those meetings was whether injuries should be better disclosed to media (and thus fans) and whether the league should adopt the "no-touch icing" rule that is used in international play. Both items were denied by the GMs. I have to agree with their decision on no-touch icing, which would only lead to more game-halting icing calls and would eliminate that often exciting battle between opposing players to chase down a puck heading behind the net. They broached the subject because of the fear of the injuries that scenario can cause, but those injuries are rare enough that I don't think it's worth eliminating that part of the game. It was slightly disappointing to see the GMs vote down the issue of disclosing injuries, which means we're dealing with at least another year of a guy twisting his knee (or was it his ankle) and it being reported simply as a "lower-body injury.

One last thing about Game 5. J.S. Giguere was again the guest commentator for the L.A. Times website, and with all due respect to Chris Pronger and Ryan Getzlaf, his report on Game 5 was the best of the Ducks commentaries so far. That was evident right from the top, when Jiggy, a hero of that 5 OT marathon in Dallas five years ago, wrote: Those games are fun and they're not fun. It's such a classic that by the end of the game, it almost doesn't matter whether you lose or win. You still have memories of it for the rest of your life. You battle so hard to win, but it's so exhausting.

I also enjoyed how candid he was with this line: I can remember from last season that the fifth game of the Stanley Cup finals was probably the only game all season where I was nervous. Because you know if you win, that's it. And I had a hard time shaking it off.

Lucky for all of us, he did shake it off. We'll see which of these teams this year does that best in Game 6 tomorrow night.

Updated June 2 at 1:36 p.m.

Okay, now this thing is over.

As much as it looked like Pittsburgh could make a series out of this Stanley Cup Final, Detroit stomped all over that possibility with a stingy 2-1 victory in Saturday night's Game 4. I'm not saying Detroit will wrap it up tonight, but they will wrap it up. And as much as it pains me to say it, you couldn't find a more deserving team this year.

These Red Wings are so solid throughout the lineup, on every part of the ice, so talented and so experienced, that it's almost a wonder they've lost at all this postseason. When you factor in the fact that aside from losing Todd Bertuzzi and Mathieu Schneider, and having Chris Osgood in net instead of Domink Hasek, this is pretty much the same team as last year -- if not a little older. I don't know about you, but I think that makes the Ducks' conference finals victory over the Wings last year look all the more impressive.

It harkens back to a couple of the thoughts that I've expressed in here since Anaheim's first-round ouster this season. One thought was that it made us appreciate what the Ducks did last year all the more. The other was that you have to sometimes subconciously root for certain opponents because their success makes your team look that much better. Look at what Detroit is doing this year, and what they do pretty much every year. Beating them in Game 5 in overtime in their place, then taking them down in Game 6 here last year? I thought it was noteworthy at the time. Now it looks darnright extraordinary. 

Speaking of last year, I have to say I've enjoyed that NHL commercial that depicts the handing off of the Stanley Cup by using split-second clips of different teams from different years (including several of last year's Ducks). Then there is this ad I came across in Sports Illustrated this weekend. Check out Scotty and Andy Mac in front and Teemu on the back right.

Although Detroit's crowning appears inevitable, you have to at least root for Pittsburgh tonight, just to extend this dream of a Final series. I mean, who doesn't want as many games as possible between these two teams? How great would a Game 7 on Saturday night be? Unfortunately, that's looking like a longshot.

It occurred to me over the weekend that this perfect matchup between the traditional power and the up-and-coming group of talented youth -- a matchup of two blue collar cities and great sports towns -- is just the latest in near-ideal final matchups we've seen in pro sports this year. Just think about it: While a Super Bowl between the Patriots and Dallas Cowboys might have had a little more flair, you can't go wrong with the undefeated Pats against a New York team led by the underappreciated little brother of an NFL great. In the NBA Finals, we're looking at Lakers-Celtics, the West's best against the East's best, Kobe against Garnett and Pierce. The NBA couldn't have drawn it up more perfectly (of course, in that league, that does rouse suspicion). So with this roll we're on, I guess we can expect Tampa Bay-Arizona in the World Series.

Helene Elliott had a story in the L.A. Times on how businesslike the Wings remain, despite being on the cusp of hoisting the Cup. In commenting on how Pavel Datsyuk rode the bike after the Game 4 win, Elliott wrote "He looked for all the world as if his team had just beaten Columbus on a random Thursday in February..."

That line made me laugh because it seems like Columbus is frequently the target of that kind of remark. For example, around these offices when we talk about marketing the Ducks, you'll sometimes hear something like, "Yeah but how do you sellout Columbus on a Wednesday?" It made me think about the goals of different organizations. Teams like Detroit, Anaheim and San Jose are looking to win the Cup every year. Other teams are just hoping to make the playoffs. But Columbus? Their first goal is to stop being the butt of that joke. The day they overhear someone say something like, "Yeah, it's like playing Phoenix on a Tuesday," there will be high-fiving all over the Blue Jackets offices.

Our own Ryan Getzlaf was the guest commentator on Game 4 for the L.A. Times website and he did a decent job with it. There was one line that confused me though: "I think that five-on-three power play in the third was a big thing for me." For you? He sounded like Randy Jackson on that one. 

I myself don't have too much to say about Detroit's win in Game 4 since I missed most of it while at the Angels game on Saturday night, part of of an unbelievable string of walk-off wins for the Halos. And as great as the Anaheim fans are, I couldn't help but be disappointed in their pregame and postgame turnouts that night. You've got a respectable bar/restaurant within steps of the stadium in J.T. Schmid's and the place was a relative ghost town before and after the game. It was even more astonishing after. The Angels had just pulled off a dramatic victory in the bottom of the 10th, a game that ended somewhere around 9 p.m. on a Saturday night. And yet when we walked over to the bar for a postgame beer or two, we were disappointed to find no more than a couple dozen people on the patio.

Seriously, what's with these people? Where are they going instead? When we were celebrating a year ago after Game 5 of the Final and the rumor went around that they had to throw tear gas into the rowdy crowd at J.T.'s, I remember being almost tickled to hear that. Obviously a near riot is not a good thing, but I remember thinking it made this place feel like a real sports town. Not to condone it, but that's the kind of stuff that's supposed to happen after your team wins a championship. But a near-empty bar within a short walk of the stadium on a Saturday night after a big victory? I can't understand that.

Two Ducks on the air notes to pass on. Sean O'Donnell will resume his stint on the "Loose Cannons" show on KLAC 570 AM tomorrow afternoon, which airs from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Meanwhile, Joe DiPenta will be on the KTLA morning show June 16 at 7 a.m. to promote the very-cool event coming up on June 19 in which he will serve as a guest lasagna chef at the Anaheim White House restaurant. Chris Pronger, George Parros and Kent Huskins have already committed to chipping in as servers at the event.

The news of the death of Vancouver rookie Luc Bourdon struck me two different ways. Without question, I was saddened to hear of the passing of a 21-year-old with a seemingly bright future ahead of him. But it is that same bright future that made me also  extremely aggravated by the news. How many Ben Roethlisberger or Jason Williams (of Duke and the Chicago Bulls) or Kellen Winslow Jr. stories do we have to hear before these guys are convinced to stay away from motorcycles? Bourdon had apparently just gotten his, having received his license only two weeks before his fatal crash. His friend, Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang, had this to say soon after the accident: “We knew it was dangerous, but he had fun with it. I knew he didn’t, like, speed with it. He just had, like, a bad move or something. Those things, you know, you have, like, no second chance.”

And unfortunately, this one could have been easily avoided.

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