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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 July 28 at 2:22 p.m.

The fact that "Ducks sign Carlyle to two-year contract extension" was still on the short list of top news stories in the NHL section on ESPN.com, I think it's safe to say there isn't a whole lot to talk about in this space right now. A quick checklist:

- Minnesota re-signs Pierre-Marc Bouchard (getting droswy, eyes slowly closing...)
- Marek Svatos signs with Colorado (eyes closed, head bobbing back and forth as I sit in my chair...)
- Boston buys out final year of Glen Murray's contract (ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ...)
- Thrashers hire two assistant coaches (ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ and drooling a little bit...)

I could mention that I finally saw The Dark Knight last night and it's just as good as advertised (though about 10 minutes too long), and if Heath Ledger doesn't get a nomination, then they might as well shut the Oscars down forever. Just an absolutely mesmerizing performance. Never has such a despicable character been so darn likeable.

Anyway, because we've reached somewhat of a lull in Ducks/NHL world, my vacation this week comes at an ideal time. (Of course, as I say that, you might as well count on Teemu Selanne announcing his return Tuesday, the Ducks trading for Sidney Crosby on Wednesday and the team changing its uniform colors on Thursday.) With that risk in mind, I am heading out tonight with the girlfriend to Boston and New York to visit Fenway Park and (for the last time) Yankee Stadium. And it just so happens the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim But We're on the East Coast This Week are going to be playing the Sox and Yanks while we're there. Even if I owned Angels garb, I don't think I'd be sporting it in those two parks (or "pahks").

It's ironic, but for the one big vacation of the summer, I'd prefer to head to an island somewhere and spend the week drinking Coronas and margaritas on the beach. But in a sort of gender role reversal, the lady would rather visit old ballparks on the East Coast. God bless that girl.

I haven't decided yet whether I'm hauling a laptop on the trip, so there is a strong chance I won't be writing anything in the coming week. If not, when I get back I'll be sure to share the inevitable travel snafus (did you know that word was originally an acronym?) and anything else I might find amusing along the way.

In the meantime, I haven't had a chance to relay this shocking bit of news, that the Bachelor and his temporary fiancee have called it quits. I haven't been this caught off guard since Lance Bass came out of the closet. If you're counting (and I'm not), that makes 10 out of 11 Bachelors that have ultimately broken it off. I guess they've pretty much all decided that courting someone on a reality show for three weeks isn't a fast track to compatibility. Meanwhile, now that they're a reality TV star, swimming in the single girl gene pool is ... ahem ... kind of fun. And they say true love is blind.

Updated July 24 at 11:37 a.m.

I flew back from Chicago yesterday afternoon and came home feeling like it was a very successful trip. I met dozens of website people from all over the league and learned a thing or two about the future of NHL team websites (it looks like this internet fad might be catching on). Among the people from nearly every team I met was Kings Vision talking head Heidi Androl (even better-looking in person, by the way), who gave me the finger within 30 minutes of officially meeting me. (That's a story for another time.)

I also managed to eat pizza for all three dinners I had there, but it wasn't until the last night I had real Chicago deep dish pizza. The first two nights the pizza came courtesy of a sports bar and a White Sox game, so real pizza didn't come until the Atlanta website guy, Kings website guy and I went to the highly recommended Giordano's. There are about 50 of them in the greater Chicago area, but we hit the one in Prudential Plaza, about the only pizza place you'll find that has an hour wait on a Tuesday night.

We were able to skirt that wait by ordering food at the bar, an always-nice luxury that happens to be Chapter 23 in my upcoming book: Why I'll Never Have Kids. The pizza was just as good as advertised, and so thick that if you dare to have more than two pieces, you would end up in the emergency room. The meal also provided the second moment of the trip where I thought I was hallucinating, as I looked up at the TV overhanging the bar to see an actual brawl in a WNBA game. Lo and behold, it actually did happen. By the way, I love how the caption on the video says "Brawl Mars End Of Sparks' Victory Vs. Shock." Mars? I thought it enhanced it.

As far as the post-pizza festivities, I gradually lost the company of Thrashers guy and Kings guy and was joined by a group at the very cool Tavern on Rush that included two Edmonton people, two Vancouver people and two Calgary guys. Needless to say, I fit right in. It was a lot of "eh"s mixed with a lot of "dude"s. (Actually, it wasn't like that at all.)

I'm sure those of you reading this will be disappointed to hear that my flight home came with no complications. Although, there was the moment where the 14-year-old girl sitting next to me (with whom I had exchanged no words) put her head on my shoulder to take a nap. I resisted the initial impulse to jerk my shoulder, and instead kind of sat forward as if I myself was waking up from a nap. That woke her up, and she embarrassingly returned to her initial position of sitting straight up.

I didn't truly feel like I was home until this morning, when on the walk from my car to the office, I passed by several caged tigers, horses and, of course, elephants. Ah, yes, the stench of popcorn mixed with animal droppings fills the air in and around Honda Center. The Circus is in town.

Speaking of a circus, I'm not exactly sure what's going on over there with the Ducks' new affiliate in Iowa. First comes the announcement that they've renamed themselves ... I can barely talk about it ... the Chops. And now there is the "breaking news" that they have offered a contract to the semi-retired Brett Favre. According to team president Steve Nitzel, “Brett is one of the greatest American athletes of the past 50 years and deserves a place to play, so we are extending an offer to him to become the newest member of the Iowa Chops Hockey team of the American Hockey League.” And they say Brian Burke is a media junkie.

Looks like Scott Niedermayer will be more willing to pick up the check at dinner after he got back $490,909.08 he thought he had lost. The NHL changed its mind on the fine they had given Niedermayer for missing training camp last year, even though the Ducks had granted him permission to take his time coming back.

It was good to see Randy Carlyle get a two-year extension from the Ducks, which is believed to pay him in the upper echelon of NHL coaches' salaries. Grumpy McGrumperson is now locked in with the Ducks for the next three seasons, adding a little more stability to a franchise that is looking at no less than 14 free agent players and one free agent GM after this coming season ends. In their conference calls with media after the signing, both Carlyle and Burke were inevitably asked about the status of Teemu Selanne (23 days late and counting).

For about the hundredth time, Burke said, “I have not heard from Teemu.” He then added, “If anyone spots him, please ask him to call me.”

Will do, Burkie.

Updated July 21 at 5:47 (Chicago time)

Yes, you read the above right. I'm in Chicago this week for something called the NHL Digital Summer Meeting, which is a conference involving various league personnel and website guys from all 30 teams. Ever been to Comic Con or camped out in line for the latest Star Wars movie? A collection of NHL website managers is just one level above those guys.

I'm kidding. It's actually a really good group of guys and gals who have gathered at the Hyatt Regency Chicago to discuss the latest in the league's Internet efforts. Even the Edmonton folks have been really nice, though they look at me like they're not sure what to think. One of them, a gentleman named Marc, told me that I was the subject of an Edmonton radio show for three or four days straight. I didn't know whether to be incredibly flattered or horrified. 

Today was the first full day of the event, following a cocktail reception at the hotel last night, and not all of the content has been what you would call riveting. A morning seminar on digital sales strategies nearly put me in my grave from boredom. I got up to take what ostensibly looked like a bathroom break and when I returned 30 minutes later after actually checking some emails, I'm sure people were wondering what I must have eaten.

But things got more interesting when the NHL revealed the look and feel of its NHL.com redesign, coming fall with team sites (like this one) scheduled to be made over by the new year. Trust me. You're going to love this new stuff.

Last night, a group of web guys and I went a few blocks down the street to a sports bar for some pizza and beer, then back to the hotel bar for a couple more. I thought the beers had caused me to hallucinate when I turned my head at one point and saw sitting at a table ... Chris Kunitz and Ryan Getzlaf with some female companions. Kunitz was with his new wife, Maureen, since they just got married over the weekend, not far from his summer place in Chicago. And I didn't even think to ask him why they hadn't left for the honeymoon yet. Suffice to say, it was definitely a random sighting, some 2,000 miles away from Anaheim.

In my apparent quest to see every ballpark in this country, I'm about 15 minutes from heading to the White Sox game with a group of fellow website dorks. I fully expect to see Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger waiting in line for a hot dog.

A few of you have noticed that a center named Eric Boguniecki is listed on the NHL website as being acquired by the Ducks, and he was also automatically dropped into the Ducks roster on the site (before we took him out). It is also listed on his official website (yes, Eric Boguniecki has an official website) that the Ducks signed him. But there is nothing official (yet) on the Ducks acquiring him. As soon as we hear something, we'll let you know.

Twenty days late, Flash.

Updated July 17 at 4:34 p.m.

Well, I guess it's back to reality today. No more writing about girls in white tanks tops and spandex pants. Thankfully, the release of the Ducks schedule this morning offers some other material.

At first glance, the schedule for 2008-09 looks much more enticing than last season. A.) No London to start the season. B.) No eight-game, 14-day road trip. C.) No spot on the calendar when we have to guess when Scott Niedermayer comes back. (Now the other guy is a different story. We're 16 days late and counting, Flash.)

Both the opening game on the schedule and the final game present golden road trip opportunities. The Oct. 9 opener is a Thursday in San Jose, with the Ducks not playing again until the home opener three nights later. Then, the regular season finale is a Saturday in Phoenix, when potentially (and we're looking way ahead here) there could be a little something called the Pacific Division title on the line.

One of the aspects I like about this year's schedule is the fact that the Ducks - like every other NHL team - will play each team at least once this season. The eight games against Pacifiic Division foes has dropped to six games each, and the Ducks will face Eastern Conference teams 18 times.

And the season gets off to a rousing start right off the bat, with that opening date at San Jose, then Phoenix (with that certain former Duck in net) for the home opener on Oct. 12. Two days later the Ducks are at the Kings, and the next night they host Edmonton in what promises to be an even more raucous Honda Center. 

In the three seasons I've been here, we've never had to work games around Christmas. They've always been on the road. But there is always that day-after-Thanksgiving game on Friday afternoon and this year is no exception. This time it's a rising Chicago team coming into the building.

Remember how I've mentioned the old "Columbus on a Wednesday" bit, and how that's the typical label for a game that's hard to sell? Well, to make matters worse, one of those "Columbus on a Wednesday" games is Dec. 31, also known as New Year's Eve. The Ducks were able to move that game back to 6:05 p.m., to give fans a little more time to run home and get blasted before the ball drops.

You have to be intrigued with the way the regular season finishes for Anaheim. Before that closing date at Phoenix, the Ducks play at San Jose, home the next night against San Jose, then at Dallas five nights later. I can already see a division title coming down to those last few games. Again though, that's a good nine months from now. Not-yet-conceived babies could be born before those games are played, yet somehow I'm already looking forward to them.

Moving on, it's too bad to see the Ducks and Joe DiPenta part ways, but as he indicated in the Duck Cast I did with him yesterday, the writing was certainly on the wall with the moves Anaheim had been making this summer. Joe will be missed around here, despite the fact Ducks fans only saw him in 23 games last year. In the three seasons he spent here, there was no Duck that worked any harder on the ice or in the weight room than the aptly nicknamed "Joe Dependable." They're going to love him in Sweden.

As the Ducks lose one player to Sweden, they bring another one in from there, as they picked up winger Joakim Lindstrom from Columbus on Tuesday. Ducks Vice President of Hockey Operations Bob Murray indicated after the trade that Lindstrom will be given a shot to be a top-six forward this coming season. That, of course, is the same thing Brian Burke said about Bobby Ryan a few days ago. Lindstrom's potential at this level remains to be seen, since he only played 25 games with the Blue Jackets last year. But he lit it up in the AHL with Syracuse, with 60 points in just 49 games. What we do know is the Ducks have picked up guys before that didn't get good opportunities in Columbus. Their names? Francois Beauchemin and Todd Marchant.

We'll find out in the fall whether he has what it takes to break into those top two forward lines in Anaheim. The Ducks potentially have yet another guy on the 2008-09 roster who would be a top-six forward. (We're 16 days late and counting, Flash.)

Speaking of No. 8, the Finnish press got this exclusive video of him not playing hockey. I'm dying to know what this story's about. Never in my life could I have foreseen a desire to speak fluent Finnish. I don't recall them offering that at my high school.

The Kings finally got around to hiring a coach, announcing today that former Flyers assistant Terry Murray (brother of former Duck coach and current Ottawa GM Bryan Murray) will take the job. Kings GM Dean Lombardi called Murray's new gig the toughest job in the NHL, because of the Kings' youth and their rebuilding process.

Murray acknowledged that, saying, "This is a very difficult league to play in; this is a man's league. We're young, we're going to get younger. We need to get younger. We need to get the young guys going ... It's going to be hard, I'll tell you that right now."

Now that's how you sell hockey tickets, ladies and gentlemen.

Lombardi praised Murray with these words: "He knows and distinguishes those who are kissing his butt from those who are busting their butt. "

Geez, let's hope so.

Updated July 16 at 4:59 p.m.

Who would have known that sitting in judgment of dozens of good-looking girls in white tank tops and black spandex pants could be so exhausting?

But that was the way I felt after yesterday’s eight-hour day at Anaheim Ice, in which I was among a group that judged potential Ducks Power Players on a number of criteria that included skating skills, interview skills and -- let's not avoid the obvious -- how they would look in the uniform. (And as you can see from the time above, it took me nearly all day to properly put the experience in perspective 24 hours later.)

My first thought when I strutted into Anaheim Ice around 9:30 a.m. and saw that most of the girls were already crowded around the rink lobby was, They actually asked me to do this. And technically, I’m being paid for it.

After all of the girls had laced up their skates (many of them provided by the rink) they headed onto the ice. For many of the girls, it was the first time wearing hockey skates rather than figure skates – and for a few of them, it showed.

As the girls were asked to cruise around the rink as a group, it was quickly evident that there was a wide spectrum of skating skills among them. The skills ranged from a couple of Michelle Kwans (or at least Scott Niedermayers) to something that looked like a baby deer being born. Later the girls were lined up and asked to skate one-by-one to the blueline and back, then around half of the rink. The handful of skilled skaters were able to screech to a stop, kicking up snow with their blades. The others? Their stopping methods including one or all of the following: A) slowing to a stop as if pulling up to a red light; B) catching their balance as they did an accidental 180; C) grabbing on to the girl closest to them; or D) slamming into the boards and grabbing onto the glass.

The skating session ended with them dashing around the rink as a group again, encouraged to show some flair as Ducks Entertainment Manager Chris Brown played various genres of pop songs from a rinkside iPod. It was a refreshing opportunity to see some excitement in the girls, who up until that point had looked mostly frightened to death. As I watched the several dozen girls enthusiastically glide around the ice to music, I mentioned to a fellow judge that we should make that part of the intermission entertainment at Honda Center. “Yeah,” she said, “and then our concession sales would go WAY down.” 

As all of this was going on, the group of judges – which included me, Ducks TV superstar Kent French, four other Ducks staffers and a “retired” Power Player – were scoring from 1 to 5 on everything ranging from speed, starting/stopping and personality on the ice.

Among the small group of spectators was about a half dozen returning Power Players (who were not required to participate in this stage) and assorted onlookers. At one point, that group included Ducks coaches Newell Brown and Sean Skahan and a certain wide-eyed young Duck taking a break from his off-ice workout – Bobby Ryan.

After the skating portion of the tryout, the girls were shuttled back into the lobby, where they filled out extensive questionnaires and then were brought in one by one for short interviews. And as nervous as the girls had earlier looked on the ice, sitting in a chair facing a panel of half a dozen judges while being videotaped for Ducks TV certainly didn’t help. But most of the girls held their own as they were peppered with questions that ranged from the generic (“What do you think you bring to the Power Player position”) to the more specific (“You say Wedding Crashers is your favorite movie. What’s your favorite line?”).

As much as its hard to stand out in such a large group, there were a few girls who were unforgettable. There was the girl who mentioned on her questionnaire that every time she inserts a Q-Tip in her left ear, she coughs. There was the girl who said she was double-jointed in her elbows, and seconds after we asked her to show us, we regretted it. As she twisted both elbows into unimaginable angles, we simultaneously looked away in horror. (Another girl was double-jointed in her knees and that wasn’t quite as appalling to witness, but still pretty weird.)

There was the girl who was the last to show up in the morning (and subsequently waited for several hours to be interviewed) who not only got a speeding ticket on the way, but the officer gave her a police escort the rest of the way to the rink. And because she showed up last, she was the last to interview, meaning she waited nearly five hours before getting into the interview room. There were a few longtime hockey players, one of which admitted she cried the first time she got called for a penalty (for elbowing a guy in the head). There was the girl who admitted she was on Vicodin after falling on her rear while undergoing intensive skating training over the past four days.

At least three girls were performers in Disneyland parades, one girl had been in three different bands, one girl had been on MTV reality shows. They ranged in height from 4’11” to about 6’2” and in hair color from blonde, brunette and redhead, to combinations of all of the above.

And after all was said and done, after we had spent the entire day watching the girls skate and speak, we decided on …


At least, not yet. An undetermined number of girls will be getting callbacks for second interviews, along with the 10 or so from last year’s team who are auditioning again. The survivors from that group will be your 2008-09 Power Players.

And hopefully the rookies will remember the judge who made it all possible.

(The heavily bearded Kent French has another look at the tryouts on a special version of Ducks TV.)

I’ll comment on the Joakim Lindstrom trade and the official departure of Joe DiPenta tomorrow.

Updated July 15 at 8:14 a.m.

Don't you hate it when you send someone an email and you get an almost-immediate reply back and you think, Wow, that was fast! Then you check the reply and it's one of those Out of Office automatic replies? I don't know why, but those always annoy me, especially when the auto-reply says something like "I'll be out of the office for the next two weeks with limited access to email." Great, enjoy your stupid vacation. Meanwhile, I'm sending emails that I won't hear back on for the next who-knows-how-many days.

With that in mind, I want to announce that I won't be in the office all day today because I'll be ... (still can't believe this is true) ... one of the judges at Power Player tryouts at Anaheim Ice. Should be an interesting way to spend a few hours. I'll have a full report -- well, maybe not a full report -- tomorrow.

One last thing. Word from the NHL is that teams can announce the date of their home opener tomorrow, as well as three "at-large" games (extra games against non-conference opponents). The rest of the schedule will be released Thursday morning. 

Okay, gotta go. I have a mandatory meeting with Human Resources before I head to the tryouts.

Updated July 14 at 2:34 p.m.

We try not to make a habit out of lying to you here in Ducks land, but that seems to be the trend lately. Teemu Selanne says he's going to announce his intentions for next year by July 1, and he's now exactly 13 days late on that one. I tell you the 2008-09 schedule could be available as early as Monday, and now I'm hearing that you won't get it until Wednesday at the earliest. Sorry about that.

I can tell you (or maybe I can't) that the Ducks open the regular season on the road and then have their home opener three days later. Beyond that, you'll have to wait until Wednesday. 

As much as I'm dying to see this thing go away, I couldn't resist this one: Looks like I've finally hit the big time and become the focus of an Edmonton Sun online column. (Please tell me this thing didn't make it into the actual print edition.) Among the several objections I have to the story, the most troubling one is this line: "Burke had his over-enthusiastic new media person post a blog taking Lowe to task just a couple of hours before the league said zip it."

It's not the "over-enthusiastic" part I mind, it's the insinuation that Brian Burke actually tells me what to write in this blog. I got a nice laugh out of that one. I had this vision of Burke standing over my shoulder as I nervously transcribe his words and he says something like, "No, Brady, 'classless' is spelled with a C, not a K."

Still in search of a head coach, the Kings are probably feverishly Googling "Ted+Nolan's+agent's+phone+number" after Nolan was surprisingly let go by the Islanders today. Word is that GM Garth Snow felt that the Islanders were an underachieving bunch, but Nolan contended they just weren't a good enough group of players. I imagine their last conversation went something like this:

Snow: "Why can't you get these guys to play better?"
Nolan: "Because they're terrible."
Snow: "I disagree. You're out."

I don't know. Maybe it was more complicated than that.

Updated July 11 at 3:18 p.m.

Just a quick rundown before I head out of town for the weekend:

- I really don't think there is much else to say about the latest in the Burke-Lowe snipe-a-palooza, except that if you somehow haven't seen Burkie's statement from yesterday, here it is. While most of you probably have already read it (and judging by the message boards you loved it), you may not have heard the radio interview he did with the Loose Cannons a few minutes after making this statement. It's almost comical how careful Burkie is to not get fined during this segment. Sample quote from Burkie, when asked if Canadian teams are jealous of American teams since a Canadian team hasn't won a Cup since '93 : "I don't know. I'll let you guys throw the punches. I don't want to get fined."

- The Ducks' signing of Steve Montador today only further reinforces that you can probably put your Mathieu Schneider jersey on Ebay, if you haven't already. Now the resigning of Joe DiPenta, as likeable a guy as there is on this Ducks team, looks sketchy as the Ducks now potentially have more defenseman than they know what to do with.

- The Ray Emery Era in the NHL appears to be over, as he signed with a Russian team on Wednesday. Looks like you might have to put your custom-made Ray Emery Kings jersey up for auction too. By the way, Emery is following the lead of several players who have elected to leave the NHL for more lucrative deals in Europe. Remember what I said a few days ago about so many teams paying 75 percent of their payroll to a half dozen guys? These defections to Europe are unfortunately going to become more and more trendy as this continues and the guys who are normally asking $2-3 million a year aren't getting it here.

- Last night I saw a pre-screening of "Tropic Thunder" with Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. (who plays an Australian actor playing a black man -- just trust me), and a cameo by Tom Cruise that you will not believe. I was part of an audience that hardly stopped laughing throughout the whole movie. One warning: Do not take a first date to this one.

- We've posted the first round of Fan Photos and hope the fans keep them coming. We're especially looking for pictures of fans wearing Ducks gear in far-off lands, like any landmarks around the world. Bring 'em on.

- Look for the release of Anaheim's 2008-09 schedule as early as Monday.

Updated July 9 at 3:34 p.m.

My apologies for the lengthy delay between the last post and now, but I've been busy fielding hate emails from the Great White North. Two of my favorites are the one that started "You're a f---ing idiot..." and the one that was signed, "Have a nice day, d-----bag."

Eloquent in their simplicity.

But I think it's appropriate to move on to more uplifting things, namely the Ducks' signing of Brendan Morrison to a one-year deal yesterday. On paper, bringing Morrison into the fold looks great, but there is a gamble there. Morrison only played 39 games in Vancouver last year when a wrist injury kept him out for three months and a torn ACL on March 26 shelved him for the rest of the campaign. It was the first time since 1999-2000 that Morrison even missed one game, as he had appeared in 542 in a row (the longest active streak in the league). Coincidentally, the first game he missed after that streak was against the Ducks and the knee injury came in a collision with former Duck Ruslan Salei.

Morrison is still rehabbing that knee injury and says if he isn't ready to go by training camp, he'll definitely be ready by opening night. It's because of that injury and Morrison's age (32) that it was surprising to hear that he left some multi-year offers on the table to sign for one year with the Ducks. But Morrison said he wanted to come to the Ducks for the opportunity to win a Cup, since he never got past the second round while in Vancouver. And he said he was willing to take his chances with a one-year contract -- turning down reported offers from Columbus, Minnesota, the Kings and the Canucks -- because of that.

"The easiest thing to do is sign a multi-year deal and not really have to worry about anything," Morrison said. "This puts a little pressure on myself to come in and perform well and I'm embracing that challenge. I have a lot to prove to people. A lot think the way things have gone with my injuries that I can't play at a high level. I want to prove that I can."

Morrison also said, "At this stage of my career I want to win and I think this is a good fit."

Is it just me or even with the Stanley Cup, the eight playoff rounds in three years and everything else, don't you still get a kick out of a free agent saying he wants to come to Anaheim to have a chance to win a title? You people who have been around this team for a long time remember when free agents avoided this place like Palm Springs in August. You have to still pinch yourselves when you hear stuff like that.

The question now is whether Morrison will wear the No. 7 that was worn this past season by two Ducks players -- Shane Hnidy and Marc-Andre Bergeron. Let's just say there is no worry that it's being retired.

In addition to commenting on Morrison's ability, Brian Burke used the opportunity to again give a vote of confidence to Bobby Ryan, whom he said will be with Morrison on that second line. Burke pointed out the monster playoff performance Ryan had last season with Portland, and said, "The couple of games I went to that’s all people could talk to me about on other teams. You’re at an American League playoff game and here there are three, four, five or six pro scouts, GMs and Assistant GMs and they run after me after the game and say ‘Boy, is he coming.’ I think he’s earned the right to be penciled in there."

Burke also said that second line right now is, "Bobby Ryan, Brendan Morrison and a question mark." That "question mark" is now eight days late on his self-appointed July 1 deadline to let the Ducks know whether he's playing or not. There was a recent article on a Finnish website that led with the following:

Teemu Selänne ei kiirehdi jääkiekkouransa jatkopäätöksen kanssa, vaikka viime kauden seura Anaheim Ducksin antama takaraja kului tänään umpeen.

Ducks ei enää varaa paikkaa Selänteelle joukkueessa, vaan etsii pelaajia vapailta markkinoilta.

Hopefully that helps clear things up.

That same article also came with a photo that apparently illustrates what Teemu Selanne will look like in 20 years. My guess is that photo was taken soon after Teemu partied for 15 straight nights after winning the Cup.

If No. 8 does come back, the Ducks have even more scrambling to do than they do right now. As we speak, Anaheim is almost $2.5 million over the  salary cap, let alone the $50 million figure the team has budgeted for payroll in 2008-09. I said it before, but don't go buying any player jerseys right now. Some guys are getting shipped. The names Schneider and Marchant are still prominently mentioned, but there could easily be more.

Breaking news: The new Ducks AHL affiliate has named itself ... wait for it ... the Iowa Chops. "It illustrates Iowa's agricultural heritage while also playing into the definition of 'chops', having nerve, resilience and staying power. The word 'chops' can mean continually defeating someone, and that is the reputation we expect Iowa's new team to gain in the league," said team owner Kirby Schlegel.

I am ... not going to comment. I don't want to bust anyone's chops.


Updated July 7 at 5:01 p.m.

In an effort to make matters clear on my previous blog entry, I want to note that it was posted early this morning prior to the NHL releasing a cease and desist order on the matter involving Kevin Lowe and Brian Burke. My blog entry was posted at 8:53 a.m., and we did not receive word of the cease and desist order until 11:10 a.m. I hope that this helps with any confusion.

Updated July 7 at 8:53 a.m.

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
- Abraham Lincoln

For almost a year, while Brian Burke took repeated jabs at Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe for last offseason’s offer sheet and signing of Dustin Penner, Lowe refrained from firing back. But you know what happens when you let things build up and fester inside – when things finally come out, they tend to get overcooked.

Kevin Lowe’s fiery and often mindless diatribes during radio appearances and interviews late last week were akin to punching your buddy in the shoulder a few times and him waiting a year before running over your entire family with his car.

Normally I would be inclined to react to Lowe’s remarks about Burke by doing nothing. Like a lot of people, I’d really like this thing to go away (especially since Burke remarks repeated in this space helped amplify this thing). I have no interest in attacking Lowe personally here.

But then he got a little personal.

Not once in Burke’s intermittent digs at Lowe did Burke comment on anything beyond Lowe himself. But apparently that didn’t stop Lowe from taking shots at the Ducks organization and its fans.

He went so far as to call Anaheim “a pathetic hockey market where they can't get on any page of the newspaper let alone the front page of the sports, so any of this stuff carries on."

There is no question Anaheim isn’t in Edmonton’s league when it comes to local media exposure. But Edmonton is also a Canadian city with little or nothing (professional sports or otherwise) competing with their blessed Oilers. The Ducks have the Lakers, Angels, Dodgers, USC football and UCLA basketball to name a few, not to mention a number of other pursuits that traditionally draw the attention of Orange County and the rest of the Southland. Despite that, the Ducks are still riding a 77-game sellout streak and their media presence has never been higher. (Admittedly, part of the reason for that is Brian Burke himself.)

But for Lowe to claim that the Ducks can’t get on “any page” of the local sports sections is an idiotic statement that came without any investigation whatsoever. For those of you who live in Southern California, I don’t have to tell you how much exposure the Ducks get in the Orange County Register, L.A. Times and various other newspapers during the season – and constantly on the front page of the sports. The Ducks are on the front page of the Register sports section pretty much every day from October through May (and sometimes June). Sorry, Kev, you just have no idea what you're talking about on that one.

Meanwhile, at no time in his rants about Lowe did Burke ever mention a particular player’s ability (not even Penner). But Lowe felt inclined to throw a rock at Bobby Ryan. In saying the Ducks “have not much coming” in terms of prospects, he called Ryan – whom Burke drafted No. 2 overall in 2005 – “a questionable pick.”

I don’t think this is the time to defend Bobby Ryan and herald his potential with the Ducks (for which I remain optimistic). But let’s not forget that Ryan was drafted behind a once-in-a-decade player in Sidney Crosby, and there are only two or three other guys in that draft who have had an NHL impact that is better than average. (I’d be happy to argue this further some other time.) Meanwhile, Ryan is trying to make his way through a Ducks organization that can offer limited opportunities on a veteran-rich roster coming off a Stanley Cup. And in Portland this past spring, he had 20 points in 16 playoff games, leading the team.

Either way, for Lowe to essentially attack a young player’s ability on another team was completely classless.

And then Lowe really took the high road, calling his former friend “an underachieving wannabe in terms of success in the NHL. He won a Stanley Cup? Great. I've won six Stanley Cups, you want to count rings?”

Underachieving? You know how many GMs would kill to play in eight playoff series in the last three seasons? You know how many would kill to win just one Cup? That includes Lowe. The six he won were as a player – not a GM.

Lowe implied that Burke won his ring because of the Ducks team that was already in place when he got there, saying, “He goes into Anaheim and he inherits an incredible team.” Granted, a nice group was in place when Burke was hired in 2005, but 16 of the 26 players on that Stanley Cup team were picked up under his watch. That includes a few guys named Niedermayer, Selanne and Pronger, not to mention Beauchemin, Kunitz, Marchant, May and O’Donnell.

Lowe even seemed to have a problem with how one of those players were acquired, insinuating that Burke used shady maneuvering to sign Niedermayer in 2005, "Don't even ask me about Scott Niedermayer,” Lowe said. “I've already lowered myself in terms of (talking about) how they acquired him. That's a story for another day."

You know what? You go ahead and keep that story to yourself. I think by now we’ve all heard enough. 

Update at 11:10 a.m.:

The NHL, in response to Kevin Lowe's comments over the weekend, has ordered both Burke and Lowe to cease and desist. Bettman, Lowe and Burke had a conference call this morning on the matter. No fines were handed down.

Updated July 3 at 11:56 a.m.

It's Teemu Selanne's 38th birthday today, so let's start with him. And let me offer a blanket response to some of the emails I've been getting over the past couple of days. Yes, I know that Teemu originally said he would let the team know whether he was coming back or not by July 1 and it's now July 3 and we haven't heard a peep. And no, I don't have any idea if he's coming back. If I were to guess, I'd say he's back next year. But then again, I also once predicted that Rachel McAdams would become a bigger star than Nicole Kidman, and that train seems to have jumped the tracks.

It didn't surprise anyone that the Ducks let Doug Weight get away yesterday, when he was signed to a one-year deal with the New York Islanders. If only it were a bigger story, the headline DUCKS LOSE WEIGHT would have been appropriate. It's a shame it didn't work out with Weight, especially because he was brought in when the Ducks controversially let go of Andy McDonald at midseason to fit Scott Niedermayer into the fold. By all accounts, Weight was a good guy, but he just never seemed to fit into the Ducks system and never really got it going like the Weight of old. And he hit rock bottom when he was scratched from a few games during the end of the regular season and early in the playoffs. I hope it works out for him in Long Island.

I felt the need to clarify something I wrote yesterday about how the Ducks climbed to the top of the list of Cup contenders with the Niedermayer return and Perry signing. What I meant to write was they inched toward that list of contenders, meaning they have to be considered among the half dozen or so teams with the best shot at a title next year. That being said, it goes without saying that Anaheim has a little work to do before it can move to the top of that heap. Clearly, there is a need for more goal-scoring, notably in the second-line center slot. Making that happen is going to be a tough task for a Ducks organization that stands at just over $56 million in salary cap payroll right now and is looking to get to around $50 million.

With that in mind, it should be an interesting next couple of weeks around here. I don't advise investing in any Ducks player jerseys just yet.

The Ducks helping launch a high school hockey league earlier this week is a huge step for the franchise's goal of growing hockey in Orange County. But here's something else I took from that story. How tan is Chris Pronger right now. Think he's spent some time around the barbeque this summer?

I liked this quote from Sean Avery after he signed with Dallas for a ridiculous $4million year, a move that apparently has Stars fans flipping out right now. Avery, when questioned about his antics, said this: "I think what I've done is just learn to manipulate the line (between right and wrong). I like to push it to the edge, no doubt about it. That's how I play. That's how I live. That's what I'm all about. I've learned to do it without hurting the team."

Yeah, Sean. That's why you're with your third team in three years.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th. I'm heading up to San Francisco to see my new nephew for the first time and take the first steps in my inevitable pursuit of being a terrible influence on him. Should be fun.

Updated July 2 at 10:34 a.m.

For the last few months, the constantly repeated answer to "When will the Ducks sign Corey Perry" was "July 1." Because of issues with the salary cap, the Ducks simply weren't able to make a deal until that time. And to Anaheim's credit, when the official start of free agency launched at 9 a.m. Pacific yesterday, the Ducks had Perry's signature on the contract within minutes.

It's a refreshing move by Perry in a professional sports world that for a long time now has been sullied by athletes' self-inflicted reputation for going after the coin. There isn't much argument that Perry could have commanded a few more millions if he had gone swimming on the open market and made himself available to the highest bidder. But he made it clear yesterday that there is something to be said for taking a little less money in exchange for a lot more comfort.

“I really wanted to stay in Anaheim," Perry said yesterday. "It’s home now. It’s a great place to play hockey. You can’t ask for a better organization to play for than the Anaheim Ducks.”

I mean, let's not nominate Perry for sainthood quite yet. He's not exactly going to be struggling. But it says something for this organization that, like J.S. Giguere last year, he took a little less to stay in Anaheim. And its a major move for the Ducks to have Perry, a guy who was on his way to a fantastic 2007-08 season before getting injured with six weeks left, locked in for the next five years.

If ever there was a phone call you'd like to listen in on, it was the one where Perry first called Ryan Getzlaf after signing on the bottom line. There needs to be a fantasy camp that can realistically recreate moments like pouring champagne over your buddies' heads after winning a championship or calling your best friends after signing a contract for $26 million dollars. I don't think it gets much better than that.

While Perry's signing was good news for Ducks fans, I think the opposite might be true of the strange deal that went down this morning, Marian Hossa signing with the Red Wings for one year at $7.4 million. As much as the Ducks might have moved toward the top of the Cup contender list with the return of Scott Niedermayer and the signing of Perry, Detroit gave them a bit of an offseason stiff-arm with this one.

It's a curious deal for Hossa, whom you'll remember went to the Stanley Cup runner-up Penguins (from Atlanta) at the trade deadline and helped lead them to the Final with 12 goals and 14 assists in 20 games. I can't figure out why one of the more coveted free agents this offseason would only sign for only one year, when he could have gotten at least three or four elsewhere, including his own team. In fact, word was that Pittsburgh was willing to offer $7 million a year for five years. I can understand a guy wanting a shot at a Cup, but didn't he have it in Pittsburgh? Is Detroit a finer city to live in than Pittsburgh? Frankly, I think choosing between residing in Pittsburgh and Detroit is like choosing between hospital food and airline food.

I imagine this scenario where Detroit's brass had Hossa's agent on the phone and said, "Well, we can only offer you one year at $7.4 million, but I know you're probably not interested..." and before they could finish the sentence, the agent said. "Done!" I don't really get this one. But hey, Detroit, really happy for you.

The Hossa deal was a bit of a buzzkill on the good news that Pacific Division rival San Jose lost brilliant free agent defenseman Brian Campbell (another deadline acquisition), who signed a monster deal with Chicago. All of a sudden, a young, up-and-coming Chicago team is showing they might be ready to play in the big boys' sandbox, as they also inked  goalie Cristobal Huet to a four-year deal. Huet was yet another deadline pickup, by Washington from Montreal.

The Campbell deal (eight years at $56.8 million) and deals like Wade Redden to the Rangers at $6.5 million a year has to raise a red flag in the NHL. If deals like these continue to be the norm, you're looking at a lot of teams that are dedicating about 75 percent of their payroll to about five or six guys. That means teams can only afford to pay the second-tier guys and role players, the guys who really lead you to playoff glory, relative peanuts. That doesn't exactly promote friendly locker rooms.

And as I'm writing this, I just saw that Dallas signed super-jerk Sean Avery to a four-year deal. Looking forward to having you back in the division, Seany.

Meanwhile, the likes of Mats Sundin and Jaromir Jagr are still on the market. Things are getting pretty interesting right now.

And oh, by the way, opening night is still three months away.

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