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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 Aug. 27 at 12:04 p.m.

It’s my birthday today, and since I’ve spent a good portion of my life either apologizing for or otherwise making up for mistakes, I might as well continue that trend.

First of all, based on your emails, the answer to the (actually rhetorical) question I posed yesterday was, “Yes, it is just you.” I won’t go into the additional remarks made in some of the more vitriolic emails that poured in yesterday. Who would have thought one sentence could generate such anger. I might as well have written that I hated puppy dogs, babies and ice cream.

Secondly, I apologize to our Ducks/Honda Center IT guys for the comment made in Thursday’s blog about workplace annoyances. To be honest, I really didn’t have our IT guys in mind when I made that remark (though I can’t say the same for IT guys at past jobs I’ve had). Our three guys are outstanding, and this was a lousy way to repay them for the messes they’ve cleaned up for me (mostly Blackberry related). So, my apologies, boys. Please don’t take my computer away.

And no, they had nothing to do with the technical difficulties on the Ducks site this morning. That was a league-wide issue.

Hey, how ‘bout returning to some … I don’t know … actual hockey talk? After mentioning the Devils as a possible destination for Mathieu Schneider (ironic considering the defenseman we nabbed from them three years ago), E.J. Hradek started a series on ESPN.com that lists the top forward, defenseman and goalie in each NHL franchise’s history. He kicks it off with the teams of the Pacific and lists Teemu Selanne as Anaheim’s top forward, Scott Niedermayer as the top d-man and J.S. Giguere as the top goalie. Scott Niedermayer? Really? Uh, E.J., ever heard of a guy named Ruslan Salei? 

In all seriousness, it’s got to be a good thing for Anaheim that all three guys who are indisputably the best in the franchise’s history are current players. Hear that, Teemu? Current players. Teemu?


One of the many Ducks hoping Selanne returns is Brendan Morrison, who would likely center a line with the Flash on the right wing. The O.C. Register has a story on Morrison getting ready for his move to Orange County, where his recovery from ACL surgery and immediate effectiveness will be one of the top stories of Ducks training camp and the start of the season.

Morrison told the Register that his knee, “feels really good. Better than what I thought I would feel at this point … I've got a little ways to go – I'm not going to fool anybody. But my doctor did as good a job as possible to get me ready."

Morrison also indicated that he wants to wear No. 7 with the Ducks, like he did during his eight seasons in Vancouver. Considering that number has been worn in Anaheim by Ducks legends like Pavel Trnka, Milos Holan, Alexei Kasatonov, Bruno St. Jacques and last season by Shane Hnidy and Marc-Andre Bergeron, I’m guessing Morrison doesn’t have to worry it will be hanging from the rafters when he gets here.

Speaking of former Canucks who were injury question marks for the Ducks in training camp. Todd Bertuzzi had his first press conference with his new team in Calgary yesterday. Among a couple of remarks he made about his home last year was this one:

“In Anaheim I thought it was going to be a good opportunity but I just didn't fit into the mode there with ice time - playing 10 to 12 minutes a game, it's kind of hard to perform."

That’s true, except Bertuzzi actually averaged 16:27 of ice time last season.

Finally, I want to thank the birthday well-wishers on the Ducks message board, including someone very close to me. How she was able to get the screen name “adamssister” without it being already taken I’ll never know.

Updated Aug. 26 at 2:59 p.m.

Is it just me or is Michelle Obama kind of hot?

That's all.

Updated Aug. 25 at 12:37 p.m.

We're 45 days away from the opening of the 2008-09 regular season, 25 from the start of training camp and still no word from Teemu Selanne. But the prevailing wisdom is that you're not going to hear anything from Teemu (nor the Ducks on his status) until the fate of another 500-goal scoring veteran from a Nordic country is decided.

Mats Sundin still hasn't indicated what he plans to do next season, whether he's coming back to the Toronto Maple Leafs or returning to hockey at all. And his plans for 2008-09 indirectly affect what the Ducks can do with Selanne. Here's why: The Ducks clearly can't fit Selanne into their plans until they free up some salary cap room by moving some players out. The name that comes up most often in starting to make that happen is Mathieu Schneider and his $5.625 million salary. But the teams that would be most likely to have the room to take Schneider are the same teams that are interested in using that room to pick up Sundin, should he decide to play and leave Toronto, where he has spent the last 13 seasons.

Sundin can still get it done at 37, evidenced by his 32 goals and 46 assists last season, and several teams (including Toronto) have expressed interest. That includes the ever-changing Vancouver Canucks, who reportedly dangled a two-year contract thought to be as high as $20 million. The Rangers and Montreal are also in the mix, as is Philadelphia, whose GM Paul Holmgren said the other day, "Other than kicking the tires and sticking our toe in the water, that's all we're doing right now ... All we're doing is putting our name in the hat. If he decides to play, then we would have interest." Think you could use a few more cliches there, Paul? How about saying that you're "in the mix" or "taking it one day at a time"?

Meanwhile, Toronto has apparently offered to bring Sundin back for one year at $7 million. (That should give you an idea of what Selanne could command on the open market, though all indications are that he is willing to give the Ducks a major discount should he elect to come back.)

Until Sundin makes a decision on where he will play this season (and that where could be Sweden's best golf courses), that puts the Selanne situation in a holding pattern. Until those teams who can afford to add big salaries are officially out of the running for Sundin, they can't make a move.

And, as a result, either can the Ducks.

Moving on, there hasn't been anything official about this yet, but there is talk that several NHL teams will be adopting third jerseys for the 2008-09 season. I can tell you with 100 percent confidence that the Ducks will not be one of them. However, several clubs  will apparently be following the Ducks' (and several other teams') lead by adding black jerseys, including the Kings (though they already have black jerseys), Bruins, Hurricanes, Sharks, Blackhawks, Senators and Coyotes. Let's just hope the Kings don't bring this one back:

Although, we really don't have room to make fun, since we had this beauty going during a brief-but-embarrassing time in our franchise history (1995-96).

Never has a facial expression better conveyed the pain of wearing a uniform like this one. Anyway, a blog called Icethetics has published a rundown of the rumored third jerseys. Although I happened to like the last third jerseys the Ducks had, I think you'll usually find that third jerseys are often like deleted scenes in movies (the ones you find in the DVD extras). Nine times out of 10, there is a reason they weren't used in the first place.

You may have already read it in the O.C. Register on Friday, but the Ducks have reached the 14,000 mark in season ticket sales for 2008-09, despite the disappointing finish to last season. As an employee of the Ducks, it really is something I take pride in, especially considering that number was around 7,000 just before I started here in 2005 (just a coincidence, by the way). It just goes to show that no matter how many shots this market has taken over the years (and still sometimes endures), the support of this team through its core fans is stronger than ever.

There is no arguing that the cost of attending a Ducks game, like any other pro sport, is -- for lack of a better word -- pricey. But I've always appreciated the fact that despite the cost of living in Orange County ranking among the 10 highest in the country (second-highest in California), the Ducks still charge an average ticket price of $40.65, which is 11th-lowest in the league (according to Team Marketing Report). That is well under the league average of around $50 per ticket. (Meanwhile, the Ducks are one of just 10 teams in the league to give away their game programs for free. )

Pricey? Sure. Pricier than other teams in the NHL? Not even close.

Updated Aug. 21 at 3:49 p.m.

At the inevitable risk of alienating half the people I work with at Ducks headquarters, here are some workplace annoyances I could do without:

People who use the expression, “At the end of the day…”
I’m not talking about using this literally, like “At the end of the day I’m going to get in my car and head home.” I’m talking about people who use it as a way to summarize their point. It’s another way to say, “When all is said and done” There was a time when this was a catchy phrase. But then again, so was “Whasssup?” At the end of the day, I think we need to eliminate this one.

Meet lovers
People who call meetings for every little work-related decision, when a simple phone call or email would suffice. I’ve had meetings called where we discuss what we’re going to talk about in a future meeting. I’m not a fan.

When people take a last bit of coffee from the pot and don’t make more
This is acceptable at 11 a.m., but close to first thing in the morning? Inconsiderate. It almost makes me feel bad when I do it myself. I’ve more-than-a-few times justified it to myself by saying, “Eh, it’s 9:23. No one wants coffee anymore, right?” Is it really that hard to put a bag of coffee into a filter and pour some water in the top? It’s like a 30-second task, right?

People who type really loudly
Okay, that one’s me.

“Reply to all” email trains
This happens when several people are copied on an email, and every subsequent response to that first email is made by people clicking that Reply to All button. Next thing you know, you’re running through 26 emails about a topic you lost interest in after the third email.

People who wish you Happy New Year anytime after January 2
We’ve covered this one before.

People who type “LOL” in emails
This is a barely excusable practice for women, but for men it’s completely forbidden. Really? Are you really laughing out loud? If you’re not, you’re just lying. By the way, the LOL ban for men applies double t
o :) or :( and especially ;). I'm not exactly a big "BTW" fan either.

People who send emails that simply say “Thx.”
An email replay with simply the word “Thanks” is usually superfluous, but it becomes slightly more irritating when people use the abbreviation, as if to indicate that typing all six letters of the word “Thanks” was too much to handle. Seriously? I went to the effort to double-click your email to get “Thx”? Thx for nothing. 

People who have too many conversations on speaker phone
Again, I think this is a laziness issue, as if picking up the phone receiver and putting it to your ear has become an arduous task. (I’m guilty of this too, by the way.) But there are certain phone conversations that don’t need to be shared with the entire office. Especially the personal ones. (Not that people ever make personal calls when they’re at work.) By the way, I do this all the time.

People who call Wednesday “Humpday”
Thankfully, this trend has slowly faded away. I think because people like me, who have the mind of a 13-year-old, couldn’t help but giggle when they heard it.

People who say “I haven’t had my coffee yet”
This is often used as an excuse for people to be absent-minded or a little slow between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., as if a cup of coffee is going to suddenly make them much smarter. I hate to tell ya, it’s not the coffee that’s the problem.

People who complain that it’s Monday
Didn’t this lose steam when people stopped reading Garfield?

People who race their emails
These are the people who send you an email, then either call or come to your office to see if you’ve read it yet. How about giving me a couple seconds?

People who press an already-lit elevator button
How much elevator button-pushing experience do you have in your life? Twenty years? Thirty? Have you not figured out yet that when the button is lit up that pressing it again isn’t going to change anything? These are the same people who apply their parking break when they’re on a flat surface.

People who ask how your weekend was
More often than not, this comes from co-workers you don’t know all that well. Because if you were close enough friends for them to actually care how your weekend went, they probably would have spent part of that weekend with you. Invariably, when I respond with a 15-second recap of my Saturday and Sunday, I think to myself, Am I now obligated to ask how their weekend was? Because, I really don’t care.

The “Sorry to interrupt” people
These are the people who poke their head into your office when you’re in mid-conversation with someone else, and politely say, “Sorry to interrupt” before actually interrupting. Really? Are you really sorry about it? Then why did you do it? I’m pretty familiar with this one because I do it all the time to people.

IT guys
IT is the one department in every company where the employees are certain that no one else in the entire company could do their job. Marketing guys? Accountants? They pretty much know their jobs could be done with anyone who had a little training. But the IT guys, they seem to think they are the only guys in the company who know how to do what they do. And, while they’re usually right, do they really have to act like it? Raise your hand if you’re not actually scared of your IT guys. See, I thought so.

Guys with the dead fish handshake
One of the first things my father taught me is to always use a firm handshake. I can’t say other guys’ fathers gave them the same advice. There are few things worse on this earth than shaking hands with a guy who barely grips your hand back. It gives you a very brief creepy sensation, like watching someone blow their nose and then look at it. I hate that.

People who use the word “Vacay” for vacation
I don’t think this needs any explanation.

People who after a private work meeting say, “Don’t blog about this.”
Okay, maybe that only happens to me.

Updated Aug. 19 at 3:31 p.m.

Last night I did something I’m really ashamed of, and to come to terms with it, I thought it best to share it with the public.

After promising myself I would never, ever do this, last night …

(This isn’t easy…)

Last night I watched the “The Hills” alone. No girlfriend watching with me, no gal pal, no female of any kind anywhere around me.

I know (shaking my head). I know. It won't happen again.

But I do have to admit this: As appalling as that show can be at times, it remains compelling television. Though in the few months since the last new episode aired, not much has changed. Lauren is still a constant victim (though a hot one at that), her friend Lo is a petty b----, Audrina is dumber than dirt, everybody says the word "like" way too much, and on the dysfunctional “celebrity” couple scale, Heidi and Spencer make Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love look like Mike and Carol Brady. At the heart of that is the increasingly detestable Spencer, whose sole purpose seems to be to test viewers' capacity for hate. His flesh-colored beard has reached the 12-day growth phase, and I’ve seen on-screen vomiting that was easier to look at than that monstrosity.

But since the Anaheim Ducks and the NHL have mandated that I write no more than 250 words at a time on either “The Hills” or “American Idol,” I’m going to cut this off here. But I will say that if you haven’t subjected yourself to “The Hills” before, right now it’s at least a nice TV respite from the constant presence of Michael Phelps or pretending you’re not looking at gymnasts’ butts.  

Then again, you could always read a book.

I’m totally kidding.

Speaking of the Olympics, as engaging as the events themselves are, I find myself constantly drawn to the work of one of my all-time idols, Bob Costas. The seemingly ageless Costas (did you know he’s 56?) remains the best in the business while seemingly nobody notices. And his segments have been even more entertaining when he sits back and listens to Bela Karolyi freak out about the latest gymnastics judging catastrophe.

For you Canadian readers out there, thank goodness your country stepped up in the last four days and racked up 13 medals. Prior to that, Canada had as many medals in these Olympics as I did. They had as many medals as Canadian teams had Stanley Cups in the last 15 years. Even Togo and Uzbekistan had more medals than Canada, before Canadians came through in the triathlon, diving, track and trampoline.

Although I have to admit that as much of a sports fan as I am, I have no earthly idea what trampoline is. Frankly, I can’t quite understand how it’s still an event when the Games are dropping baseball and softball after this year. Trampoline? Isn’t that something you did in your friends-with-rich-parents’ backyard? Is Slip-n-Slide an event too? Swingset jumping?

One of our Ducks staffers, Ariana, went with her family to Beijing and sent back this picture. So, the Ducks are being represented at the Games. Meanwhile, a reader emailed me to say he saw a fan holding an orange Ducks towel in the background of a "Today Show” segment in Beijing. Turns out that was Ariana’s brother.  

Speaking of Ducks staffers, I just want to mention the team was well-represented in the City of Yorba Linda softball league this summer. The season for the Quack Addicts (and their godawful name) ended last week with the team going an impressive 1 and 9. Although, that one win is under protest because we used four ineligible players (recruited from games that had just ended before ours) when nearly half our team couldn’t make a game last month.

I saw “Pineapple Express” last week, and while it was the most shockingly violent movie I’ve seen since “The Departed” (I’m not kidding), it was very, very funny. Definitely worth seeing, mostly for James Franco's performance. By the way, the funniest thing on TV right now is "The Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget" (replayed tonight, I believe). Be warned: Despite the bleeped-out curse words,  it's not for the faint of heart. Let's just say there are about a dozen wildly inappropriate Olsen Twins jokes.

You know the most surprising part of the news that Phil Collins is getting divorced? It's not that it's his third divorce. It's not the fact that his $46.68 million payout is $1 million more than Paul McCartney paid Heather Mills. And it's not the fact he broke up with his second wife via fax. It's the fact that Phil Collins is apparently worth $280 million. Seriously? When did that happen? The guy who recorded "Sussudio" is worth $280 million?

I feel obligated to get some hockey news in here, so I'll mention that Adam Proteau in The Hockey News ranked the six divisions in the NHL and listed the Pacific as the toughest. I couldn't agree more, with the Ducks, Stars and Sharks remaining the class of the division and the Coyotes and Kings both up-and-coming teams (allegedly).

I’ll also say it’s good to see the Ducks keep it in the family and hire Gord Dineen as the head coach of the (I can still barely utter it) Iowa Chops. First order of business for the Chops: Take a better head shot than the one the Portland Pirates provided us (if you didn't see it earlier, my apologies. I just can't put it up again.). When the Chops sent over pictures from this morning's press conference announcing Dineen's hiring, I couldn't change out the old photo fast enough.

You know what today is? It's the 19th, which means training camp starts exactly one month from today (with players hitting the ice for the first time on Sept. 20). And while I've enjoyed the summer, that date can't come fast enough. At the very least -- and I think I speak for all of you on this -- it will thankfully give me something better than "The Hills" to write about.

Updated Aug. 14 at 12:14 p.m.

The timing couldn't have been better.

I was sitting here in the dark, with seemingly nothing to write about, the Ducks regular season opener still 56 days away and nothing going on in the NHL more exciting than "Kings sign Drew Doughty."

And then with the "ding-dong" of my email came a ray of light, as I received the official announcement of the NHL's national television schedule for 2008-09. A quick scan of the planned telecasts on NBC and (yes, for another year) VERSUS revealed that the Ducks have exactly one national television game scheduled this year. That's right, the team with Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Teemu Selanne (possibly), Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and J.S. Giguere, the team that plays as exciting a brand of hockey as you will find in all of hockey, the team that won the freakin' Stanley Cup two seasons ago, has just as many national TV games as the Columbus Blue Jackets and Phoenix Coyotes.

Of course, you'd think with just the one Ducks game scheduled on VERSUS' 56-game slate, it would be a classic matchup between Anaheim and, say, San Jose or Los Angeles or Detroit or even Edmonton. But no, it's an epic clash between the Ducks and ... wait for it ... the Buffalo Sabres. I guess the league viewed the potential Drew Miller vs. Ryan Miller matchup as viewer-friendly. Or maybe they assumed the Ducks and Sabres were natural rivals because of this.

Meanwhile, the league continues to prove it's unaware that hockey exists west of the Mississippi River, since the Sabres, Minnesota Wild, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins will appear eight times each on VERSUS, while the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals will be on seven times apiece.

Granted, NBC has again employed "flex scheduling" for the final eight Sundays of the regular season. So, the Ducks could potentially be featured on one of those if the league and the network deem Anaheim more TV-worthy in February, March and April than they apparently do in August. But hey, there's always potential TV time in the playoffs. And, oh yes, there will be playoffs.

As if the NHL national TV schedule didn't provide enough blog fodder, later this morning came an instant message from my fellow NHL website guy in Atlanta, Ben. The IM simply said, "Have you seen this?" and contained a link to this eye-opening video. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Dallas Ice Girls have struck again. (Be patient for the 10-second Stars season tickets ad urging you to "Get On Board." I promise it's worth the wait.)

But unlike the last Ice Girls video we linked to in this space, there are no entertaining interviews with the ladies. This one is simply a glorified music video (with an incredibly annoying song I can not get out of my head) of the girls prancing around in tiny bikinis on a yacht and in the lake. (I love the fact it's the only video on their site that's in HD.) I've seen movies on Cinemax after 10 p.m. that weren't as blatantly gratuitous as this thing. And that thought totally occurred to me the seventh time I watched this, but the eighth and ninth times weren't as bad.

I know I've used this line before, but I'm bringing it back: I'm not sure where the Stars find their Ice Girls, but I'm guessing it's a place where if you ask for change for a 20, they give you 20 $1bills.  

Updated Aug. 11 at 4:03 p.m.

For whatever reason, I sprung awake at 5:30 a.m. yesterday, but wasn't anywhere close to being ready to get out of bed. So, I checked the bedroom DVR for something interesting and noticed that it had recorded FSN's re-airing the night before of two of the biggest games in Ducks history. That would be Game 5 of the 2007 Western Conference Final in Detroit and Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against Ottawa.

I like how FSN had the presence of mind to air Game 5 of the Detroit series and not the clinching Game 6. It's admirable since (and I've written this before) if not for Scott Niedermayer's goal with 47.3 seconds left in that Game 5 (which opened the door for Teemu Selanne's overtime winner), the Ducks don't win the Stanley Cup.

Regardless of the significance of both games, I wasn't really in a state of mind to watch them in their entirety. Instead I fast-forwarded to the closing minutes of each one, starting with that Detroit game that I was able to attend in person. I moved to the final two minutes, when the Ducks were frantically trying to score their first goal of the game and tie it 1-1.

With 47.3 seconds left in regulation, Scott Niedermayer's deflected shot fluttered over Dominik Hasek's glove on a power play to tie the game and force overtime. I had almost forgotten that not only did the Ducks have a man advantage with Giguere pulled from the net, but they were 6 on 4 because Pavel Datsyuk took an interference penalty with 1:47 left. Then the Ducks scored what could easily be called the biggest goal in franchise history, when Teemu Selanne fed Scott Niedermayer (acting like a forward) in the left circle and Niedermayer desperately slapped a shot on net that clicked off Nicklas Lidstrom's stick and flipped past Dominik Hasek's shoulder into the top right corner of the goal ( here's the video). The thrill that goal with 47.3 seconds left gave me at the time overshadowed things I've noticed while watching it on replay since then. Notably, the way Niedermayer raised his hands in the air while on one knee, then showed he was human by losing his balance and falling on his face like a little kid before being grabbed by Andy McDonald.

Another thing I had forgotten about in that closing minute was Johan Franzen had a chance to clear the puck out of the Detroit zone and send it the length of the ice, but didn't get all of the puck and Chris Pronger dumped it back in the zone just before it cleared the blue line. Coincidentally, Franzen could be seen on the telecast hurling his stick against the board after Niedermayer's goal went in. It actually ricocheted back and hit Selanne in the skate, who was too busy rushing toward Niedermayer to notice it.

I then fast-forwarded to around the 8-minute mark of the ensuing overtime, when Andres Lilja was hounded enough by Andy McDonald to turn the puck over to Selanne in the Detroit zone. Although I've seen it several times I almost shouted out while sitting up in bed as Selanne sent the puck to his backhand and flipped it over a flailing Hasek ( here's that video). I'll never forget NBC analyst Eddie Olczyk describing the replay by saying, "Forehand, backhand ... nothing but water bottle."

I went from the end of that telecast to Game 5 of the Final, but again fast-forwarded to just before Corey Perry scored the sixth Ducks goal. I actually wrote down some notes so I could remember them later. Here they are:

- Just before the Perry goal, with the Ducks seemingly on their way to the Cup title, play-by-play guy Mike Emrick reflects on the road to the Cup by commenting, “You have to play eight weeks and win 16. Two wins a week seems easy, but it’s only easy for the guy who doesn’t have to do it.” (Ducks fans were reminded of that last April.)  

- With exactly 3 minutes left, Daniel Alfredsson (who had become Public Enemy No. 1 for Ducks fans for shooting the puck at Niedermayer earlier in the series), turns it over and Perry absolutely rifles a one-timer (
video) past Ray Emery. I remember at the time, despite the Ducks being up three goals with just over three minutes left, I never truly felt comfortable until Perry scored that goal and then was quickly drilled with a bear hug from Sean O'Donnell.

- In the closing minutes, on-ice reporter Pierre McGuire comments on whether this will be Selanne's last game: "I’ve got a feeling if they win the Cup, Teemu Selanne’s days as a player in the NHL are probably over."

- Emrick talks about the now-famous t-shirts that Todd Marchant created for the team: "The words through the four rounds were Passion, Sacrifice, Heart and Destiny. They had them all. And they’re about to win it all." (I get chills).

- As the clock runs down from 3 seconds to 2 seconds to 1 to 0, Emrick yells out, "The Anaheim Ducks are the Stanley Cup champions" as Ryan Getzlaf shakes the gloves off his hands to jump into J.S. Giguere's arms, soon followed by Corey Perry and then the rest of the team as the victory music from "Rocky" can be heard on the telecast. It suddenly gets very dusty in my bedroom.

- During the celebration, two different camera shots reveal Selanne hugging Scott Niedermayer for about 10 seconds straight

- Brad May and Ilya Bryzgalov lock eyes, and May holds out his arms with a "Can you believe it?" look in his face before they embrace.

- A wide shot from behind that shows the Senators leaning on their sticks, waiting patiently as the Ducks celebrate amongst themselves on the other side of the rink.

- Niedermayer and Alfredsson spend a little longer on their handshake than the others, with Niedermayer seemingly offering his forgiveness for the incident in Game 4.

- Seconds later Teemu Selanne stops to give Alfredsson a hug, patting him on his shaved head and whispering something in his ear.

- The announcers speculate on who will get the Conn Smythe, with Olczyk saying, "I think Andy McDonald."

- When the Conn Smythe and the Cup is brought in by Bettman (responding to boos by saying, "It's okay. I've brought gifts") the song "Love Comes Walking In" by Van Halen can be heard playing through the Honda Center speakers. (I had forgotten that.)

- After a short speech, Bettman invites Scott Niedermayer over to get the Cup. But he doesn’t hand it over to Scotty right away, apparently wanting them to both hold it for a quick picture. Scotty doesn’t get the message, almost wrenching the Cup from Bettman’s hands as if taking a rattle away from a baby. To make it even more awkward, the mic that Bettman had placed on the table rolls off and hits the ground with an audible thud. What a moment!

- It’s quickly forgotten as Niedermayer thrusts the 35-pound Cup to the sky as the crowd goes ballistic, then nods to someone off-camera to take it from him. Viewers quickly see that it’s his brother Rob, who repeatedly pumps the Cup over his head to show the crowd.

- Wide shot of Honda Center shows the confetti still falling from the rafters.

- Sammy Pahlsson takes the Cup from Andy McDonald and NBC microphones just barely pick up the normally silent Pahlsson screaming, “Yeaaaaahhhhh!”

- Kunitz gets the Cup from Pahlsson and Emrick says, “Now get to some of the younger guys. The future, and the future hope they can someday do this yet again.”

- The guys in the booth prepare to send it down to McGuire who has Teemu Selanne, but before the shot changes to down on the ice, McGuire says, “Teemu is a little emotional right now and I can’t get through to him.” The shot transitions into Teemu with his arms around his wife Sirpa, as he’s weeping and whispering in her ear. If you don’t get a little misty over watching that, you might want to check for a pulse. Although, apparently the scene didn’t affect one of the Selannes’ young sons, whom you can just barely see peeking around McGuire’s head to get his face on camera.

- McGuire finally gets Teemu alone and asks him if the Cup felt heavy or light. Selanne says, “It was quite heavy actually.” Video then flashes back to Teemu on the bench during the closing moments of the game, as he pinches the bride of his nose to hold back the tears. (Meanwhile, I'm doing virtually the same thing as I watch this.) He says, saying “What an unbelievable feeling. I’ve been waiting so long for this. I’m so proud of these guys.” McGuire asks him if this is the end. “I don’t know,” he says. “I’ve always dreamed about retiring at the top. We’ll see.”

- NBC comes back from commercial to show the team posing on the ice for a picture we’ve all seen hundreds of times in the year since it was shot.

- Cameras show Brian Burke holding the Cup, described by Emrick as "A guy who has been extremely innovative in getting this team in the marketplace. It is a difficult one. It is competitive with professional and college teams all around. But nothing makes an impact like a championship team, and he’s got one now."

- McGuire talks to the Niedermayer brothers and concludes the interview by yelling, “The Niedermayers! Stanley Cup champs!” They use that as a cue to hug yet again.

- Emrick ends the telecast by saying, “Two favorite phrases: Stanley Cup champions. No practice tomorrow.” (He obviously doesn’t know Randy Carlyle very well.)

- But it was a line from Emrick during the closing seconds of the game that really resonates. As has become a tradition for him in the last game of the Final, he quoted late Harrisburg Patriot-News hockey writer Steve Summers: “The episodes in life that last so many years in memory are often measured in fleeting minutes as they happen.” Then Emrick added, “In minutes, this won’t last very long, but the memories sure will.”

And TiVo certainly helps bring those memories back once in a while.

Updated Aug. 8 at 12:31 p.m.

Mention the date June 6, 2007 and most Ducks fans will know exactly what you’re talking about. But without Aug. 9, 1988, that historic day in Ducks history might have never materialized.  

Without Aug. 9, 1988 there is no Stanley Cup title. There is no Paul Kariya, no Teemu Selanne, no Scott Niedermayer, no Chris Pronger in Anaheim. Let’s face it: There are no Anaheim Ducks.

Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the Edmonton Oilers trading Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings, a day that dramatically changed the face of hockey in Southern California. In what is widely considered one of the most significant and unforeseen trades in sports history, the Kings acquired Gretzky,  Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski in exchange for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, three first-round draft picks and $15 million.  

Brian Burke, who was the assistant GM in Vancouver at the time, calls it “the day the hockey world stood still. It has a seismic impact on hockey in the U.S."

In these parts, it radically pushed hockey toward the forefront in a region traditionally dominated by baseball, basketball, football and – as far as youth participation went – soccer. The Kings switched their uniform colors from purple and gold to silver and black on Gretzky’s arrival, and suddenly became a hot ticket in Southern California that rivaled Magic and the “Showtime” Lakers for buzz. It helped that the Kings significantly improved on the ice, going from 68 points to 91 in Gretzky’s first season in L.A., winning their first division title in 1990-91 and making a run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993. 

That wave extended to youth hockey, where kids who once kicked soccer balls or swung aluminum bats were suddenly picking up hockey sticks. And over time, more and more rinks sprung up in the Southland to meet the demand.

Simply put, Gretzky made hockey cool.  

Gretzky, who says he thinks about the trade every Aug. 9, remembers the state of youth hockey in this area when he first arrived in L.A. “I was going by these tennis courts and I stopped the car and said to a friend, ‘You know, if we were in Canada, kids would be playing ball hockey, or inline hockey here and it would be amazing,’” he remembers. “And this guy said, ‘Well, this is California.’ A year later there was a sign on the fence that said ‘no inline hockey allowed’ and I was like, ‘We've come a long way.’”

Without Gretzky’s impact, Southern California-based Disney probably doesn’t make a movie called “The Mighty Ducks,” which was released in 1992 and paved the way for a new NHL franchise: The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

“Without Gretzky's impact,” Burke said, “there is no team in Anaheim."

Beyond that, there might not be any team in San Jose. There might not be a team in Phoenix (where Gretzky is ironically now the head coach). Who knows if there are teams in previously non-traditional markets like Nashville or Dallas or Tampa?

And that Southern California growth has had an impact throughout the league. In 2007 Jonathon Blum became the first Californian selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft when Nashville took him 23rd. Bobby Ryan was raised in New Jersey, but spent his teens in Southern California, where he became a standout for a team that might not exist if not for Gretzky: the L.A. Junior Kings. The Ducks took Ryan second overall in 2005. In the last Draft, four players were either born or trained in California. Brian Salcido, a Hermosa Beach kid, is a 23-year-old in the Ducks system who will have a shot to be in Anaheim this season.

"You see California kids all of the time on junior rosters and there are many California kids and 95% of them are there because of Gretzky's presence in California," said Atlanta Thrashers general manager Don Waddell in a story in USA Today.

And all of it came because Bruce McNall, then the owner of the Kings, had the wherewithal to make the deal that changed the face of the game forever. "This deal,” said McNall, “probably has more impact in the sports world than any other deal in sports history."

You won’t get much argument about that from here.

Updated Aug. 6 at 12:43 p.m.

I have to admit, I'm to the point where I've grown tired of the talk about whether a certain franchise icon will be coming back next season. The uncertainty of the whole situation is wearisome, to say the least, and I'm almost to the point of losing interest. Of course I'm talking about the Brett Favre saga in Green Bay.

But I'm experiencing similar pangs with the Teemu Selanne situation, despite the almost-daily emails from fans wondering if I've heard anything. The answer is still no, but I do have a theory. I believe he's coming back, but the Ducks are remaining coy about his status until they make some moves that will enable them to ... I don't know ... actually pay him a salary. The latest indication that Selanne is looking to play hockey again this fall comes in (of all places) a Thrashers blog on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website. In addition to the blog being a nice reminder that there is actually still an NHL team in Atlanta, it also focuses on the workouts of Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen. What does this have to do with us? Well, it mentions that among Lehtonen's workout partners are several fellow Finns.

One of the big names: Teemu Selanne, a 38-year-old unrestricted free agent who might or might not want to continue playing in the NHL. Selanne became the leading scorer in Anaheim Ducks history this year; he had 23 points in 26 games with the team in 2008 after joining the team in January. Ducks general manager Brian Burke was quoted by the Orange County Register last week saying he hadn’t heard from Selanne in awhile and would like to speak with him.

“I don’t know if he’s coming back,” Lehtonen said of Selanne. “He’s been quiet about that. I’m sure he’ll tell us when he’s ready to make a decision. He’s still got a scoring touch, for sure.”

Meanwhile, Teemu has been focusing on other things in his native country. Here's video of him at the wedding of longtime NHL defenseman Janne Niinimaa. You think our celebrity reporters and paparazzi are bad, how about running up to the bride with a mic as she's seemingly on her way to the ceremony. My Finnish is a little rusty, but let me attempt to translate that portion:

Reporter: "How are you feeling?"
Bride: "Nervous as hell. I feel like I'm going to throw up. Now please go away before I beat you over the head with this bouquet." 

A giant-sunglasses-wearing Teemu is interviewed at around the 1:35 mark, and he looks like he's shed about 10 pounds. If any of our Finnish-speaking fans want to send me a translation of that portion, I would welcome it.

Update: According to someone on the AllDucks.com message board, here is a rough translation: Teemu
said he is a good buddy of Janne's, an easygoing guy whom he knows very well. He also knows his (Janne's) wife and she balances him very well. He himself has stayed in Kirkonummi at his summer cottage. Been practicing well, had some KOFF (beer), summer has been great. Is in good shape. Will return to America in the beginning of September.

Teemu also apparently won some sort of tennis doubles competition back home, according to this recent photo. It's not exactly the Staney Cup, but it's something. 

Apparently Ducks fans remain optimistic. In our last poll on the home page, which asked who you thought would lead the Ducks in goals this season, a leading 41 percent clicked the box for "A certain Finnish free agent."

Let's move on to players we know are coming back to the Ducks next season. George Parros has gotten some serious pub lately. First there is this very cool feature on him in USA Hockey Magazine, complete with a couple of great photos of him hanging out with kids from the LA Hockey Club. Then, he did this interview during the X Games with 710 ESPN's Beto Duran and skateboarder Tony Alva, in which Georgie talks in part about what a lousy skateboarder he is: "I've been falling off skateboards ever since I've been trying. We don't get along too well."

There is finally something positive written about Bobby Ryan, a nice contrast to what was said about him earlier this summer by a certain person we won't mention. Brian Costello writes in a blog on The Hockey News website that Ryan is one of a few "more heralded prospects who are candidates for a career breakthrough season in 2008-09." He writes that "Ryan will never challenge [Sidney] Crosby on the scoresheet, but he will become a prominent player on the top two lines in the future. It’s far too early to write him off."

ESPN's Scott Burnside has released his Summer Power Rankings, which has the Ducks ranked fourth in the West behind the Red Wings, Sharks and Stars. I think that's about right at this point. Interestingly enough, the team in 5th? That's right, the Edmonton Oilers. Actually, with the moves they made in the offseason and how good they looked for a stretch in the final months of last season (despite all their injuries), that looks about right as well ... as much as I hate to admit it

Updated Aug. 4 at 2:12 p.m.

There’s nothing worse than hearing stories or looking at pictures of a vacation you weren’t on. That being said, there isn’t a damn thing going on in Ducks land or the rest of the hockey world (evidenced by the fact that two of the top 5 stories on our site that were there when I left are still up there). With that in mind, I’ll offer a few highlights of my trip with my girlfriend to Boston and New York. If you’re not interested (and I can’t blame you if you’re not), I highly suggest clicking the “X” on the top corner of your screen.

(Photos by the girlfriend)

Monday Night/Tuesday Morning
Flew from LAX to Logan Airport in Boston on a redeye that got us into Boston in the early morning on Tuesday. Would have slept nearly the whole flight if not for a couple of factors. One was the child in the seat across the aisle from us who wouldn’t stop bouncing up and down and yelling, only to be almost completely ignored by his mother, who was blissfully watching the in-flight TV with headphones on. The other was the guy in the window seat (the first of many Angels fans we saw during the week), who had to wake us to go to the bathroom. The nap I did manage to take was interrupted with about an hour to go in the flight, as the flight attendants frantically tried to clean up vomit in the aisle. Word was that a kid had thrown up on the two people sitting next to him as well as the floor. Good times.

Tuesday Morning
Got to our hotel in Boston way too early to check in, so we toured the city using two different mega-touristy methods. One was the audio tour at the top of the 52-story Prudential Building that overlooks the entire city. The other was riding the popular Duck Tour, which takes you on an amphibious vehicle that rolls through Boston and floats on the Charles River. As cheesy as it seems, I highly recommend it, as we learned a ton about the history of the city (including what a farce Paul Revere’s ride really is). This was one of the many places we ran into OC people in town for the Angels, and even the girl sitting behind me said she lived in Dana Point, which is where I grew up.

Tuesday Night
Bar-hopped on Boylston Street in Boston’s Back Bay, rolling through a handful of pubs while watching John Lackey almost throw a no-hitter at the Red Sox. Needless to say, the bars were relatively quiet until that annoying little Dustin Pedroia got a hit with one out in the ninth. That happened while we were at McGreevey’s, which claims to be the “First Sports Bar in America” but somehow was only opened in that location last year. This night was the first time I realized that every bar in Boston has Sam Adams on tap. Had dinner at an Italian joint in the North End, then grabbed a gelato at a place where the manager went on a rant about how much he wanted Manny Ramirez traded.

Wednesday Afternoon
Took a walk from Boston Common through downtown to Faneuil Hall, a very touristy but very cool “marketplace” with tons of shops, restaurants and bars. Moved on to Long Wharf, where a couple of scenes from “The Departed” (among other movies) were shot.

Wednesday Evening
Took the train to Fenway Park, leaving from the Arlington Station platform that looked like a great place to be robbed and left for dead. Immediately headed to two legendary bars around Fenway – Boston Beer Works and Cask'n Flagon, the latter of which has gone in a few years from charming dive to a place that has been upgraded to almost too nice. Closer to game time we headed into Fenway Park, which has to be the only one in the country that takes your tickets outside the park. In this case, it’s the very busy Yawkey Way, which is lined with memorabilia shops, food stands (Luis Tiant was signing autographs at his own BBQ stand), street performers and countless fans. Most were wearing some form of Red Sox shirt or jersey, while a surprisingly large number were clad in Angels red. Even though I’ve been to Fenway twice before, I again got chills walking into that ballpark, heading through the tunnel and seeing the field and the Monster for the first time that day. It just does that to you.

Wednesday Night
Watched the Angels beat the Red Sox, 9-2, from seats about 20 rows behind home plate (sometimes it pays to work in pro sports), thanks in part to a bomb over the Green Monster by Torii Hunter. Over the nine innings, I managed to eat two different hot dogs and drink several types of beers, which somehow didn’t stop us from having a late dinner at the Uno Chicago Grill near the pahk. The game turned out to be the last for Manny Ramirez in a baggy Red Sox uniform, as he was dealt to the Dodgers the next day.

Thursday Morning
Headed to the Amtrak station where just prior to boarding our train to New York, a woman inexplicably threw up on the platform about 20 feet away from us. So, that makes two vomiters on the trip, neither of them us. Took the four-hour train ride through Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and finally New York before arriving at our hotel near Grand Central Station.

Thursday Evening
Took the subway to the Bronx to Yankee Stadium, where you get a goosebump-inducing view through the stadium to the field just before the train stops at 161st Street. We took a look at the towering stadium (and the new one going up right next to it) before dropping into a couple of the must-stop bars right next to it – Yankee Tavern (great onion rings) and Billy’s Sports Bar. At the latter, I found out that a Bud Light and a pear cider will cost you a cool $16. What is this, Newport Beach?

Thursday Night
From seats on the field level about halfway down the right field line, watched the Angels beat the Yankees, 12-6, thanks in part to a trio of three-run homers. Moved down to seats about 20 rows behind the Angels dugout through the end of the game, then lingered around the park for a long enough time afterward (knowing it was the last time we’d see the place) that the ushers had to practically ask us to get the hell out of there. Squeezed into the crowded subway on the way back into Manhattan, where you can tell who’s from out of town and who’s from New York based on the looks on their faces. Apparently there is a law in New York state that locals can’t ride the subway without looking like they’re trying to figure out how they’re going to kill themselves.

Friday Afternoon
Took the obligatory walk through Midtown Manhattan, passing through Times Square (like being inside a pinball machine), Rockefeller Center (where I purchased a t-shirt from the NBC store that is a picture of George Costanza with the caption “I’ve Got Nothing), Broadway and Central Park. Speaking of that, if you’re like me, you can’t walk through Manhattan without thinking of at least a dozen snippets from “Seinfeld” or (I’ll admit it) “Sex and the City.” Ate lunch at the famous Carnegie Deli, where the pastrami is always phenomenal and is part of their tradition of piling every sandwich with enough meat to feed an entire elementary school. The place is so old school that they charge for soda refills and don’t take anything but cash. I got back from the bathroom to my girlfriend telling me the hostess vehemently cursed out a group that said they had four people but really had five, but she did it all in Spanish. My girlfriend, the former Santa Ana elementary school teacher, was able to translate most of it and said it wasn't pretty.

Friday Night
Watched the Angels edge the Yankees 1-0 at Mickey Mantle’s, a restaurant and sports bar near Central Park. Any bar that’s named after an alcoholic Hall of Famer is a must-stop for me, and we had the added bonus of watching the game at the bar next to two heavily accented New Yorkers, one who looked like he might have worked for Tony Soprano and the other who looked exactly like Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons.” I was made aware of the latter when some obnoxious Angels fans at the other end of the bar called him that nickname as they playfully yelled back and forth throughout the tight game. Later, had dinner at a Cuban place (recommended to me from a friend who lives in the city) called Guantanamera, where a Cuban band plays on a tiny stage right in the middle of the dining room and customers dance between the tables. You have to yell your order in the waiter’s ear, but it’s totally worth it. A late-night drink came at one of the two lobby bars at the W Hotel on Lexington, where in one of the lounges you can play games. This is where I learned that my girlfriend can kick my butt at chess (twice), an incredibly emasculating experience.

Saturday Afternoon
After a quick bagel at Dean & Deluca at Rockefeller Center (seen in the background during those street segments on “The Today Show”), we headed to JFK for the flight home. The six hours in the air was made even tougher by the fact that only CNN was working on the in-flight TVs (the rest were either black or had a Dish Network infomercial), which made me wonder if I could ask for a refund on my ticket. Meanwhile, the kid seated next to my girlfriend, on the aisle, was a major pain in the neck as his seemingly oblivious father sat in the row behind him. In addition to bouncing in and out of his seat virtually the entire flight, he unsuccessfully reached across both of us into my seat pocket to take headphones that belonged to me. Later he casually took the US Weekly from the pocket in front of my girlfriend and proceeded to read it, even though he spoke no English. (Luckily, that magazine requires little to no reading ability.) Give me a president who will run on a platform of legalizing the Tasering of unruly children, and he has my vote.

Saturday Evening
Back in California, girlfriend discovers that she has somehow lost her camera, even though she knows she had it in the car ride to the airport. She hasn’t ruled out the possibility that the kid reached into her bag and took it. Luckily, in the middle of our last day in New York, she ran out of room on her memory card and purchased a new one, so most of our pictures (more than 200) are saved. Meanwhile, on the drive back from LAX to OC, plans are made to completely eliminate eating and drinking for the next week. Less than 24 hours later, I drink a gin and tonic by the pool on Sunday afternoon.

So, a recap: two of the greatest cities in the world (sorry, Irvine), two legendary ballparks, dozens of drinks, thousands of calories from hot dogs, pretzels, pasta, pastrami and pizza and very little sleep. I’d say that’s a successful vacation. And as I finally unpacked my bag Sunday afternoon, I came across a Fenway Park ticket and a slightly torn Yankee Stadium ticket with the words “The Final Season” printed across the top.

 Something tells me I’ll be keeping those for awhile.


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