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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 September 30 at 4:48 p.m.

The Ducks held their second Fan Forum teleconference last night for season ticket holders, who were able to ask questions of Bob Murray, Randy Carlyle and Tim Ryan. You can listen to it right here.

All three were refreshingly candid with their answers, especially Carlyle. I myself found his answer interesting when a caller asked why the Ducks seem to play so well against the Red Wings at home. Carlyle said part of the motivation comes from the number of Wings fans that infiltrate the building on those nights. "It is very upsetting when you're in your own building and you see all the Detroit Red Wings sweaters in the stands," he said. "I think that’s the motivation that comes through to our players. I know as a coaching staff we try to utilize that as a tool to help motivate some people, that they're not going to come in here and do the things they’re normally able to do, and they’re going to have to earn every inch of the ice."

I don't know about you, but that makes me want to see Ducks-Red Wings right about now. Incidentally, one of the three interactive polls during the call asked participants which opponent they most like to see at Honda Center, and given the choice of Kings, Sharks, Red Wings, an Eastern Conference team or "someone else," 22 percent said the Red Wings, which was second to an Eastern Conference team at 47 percent.

At one point in the call, a woman named Martha voiced concern that the Ducks weren't getting in front of the net and not shooting the puck enough. Carlyle was designated by the other two as the responder, and he said, "I understand your concerns ma'am, and they're valid concerns ... We're going to continue to push our players to make sure that when there is an opportunity to direct the pucks toward the net with traffic, they should be shooting the puck more and create more scoring chances. We do a lot of low to high stuff, go corner to corner, down low to the corner and back up to our defensemen, and that's where we'd like to direct more shots also, not just from the side boards, but from the point."

More from Carlyle, on who starts in net opening night: "We have a very difficult decision to make before Saturday and we’re making that very shortly. There are some pros for Jonas Hiller to start and there are some cons. We have a 1A and 1B situation."

On the second line: "We're not completely satisfied with the marriage of Selanne and Koivu at this time. We think it’s going to take a little bit more time and I think there are some things they can do to make it a lot more simple. They can distribute the puck around versus trying to find one another. They’re playing as a twosome and not really involving the third guy as much as they should and they’re trying to be too cute in certain situations. They’re veteran guys and we have all the faith in the world that they will find that chemistry. If it doesn’t work, the coach has to make a change and we're not afraid to make a change. But once Lupul is back on the ice with them, that third player will really provide some offense."

Tim Ryan was asked if the Ducks are looking to host the All-Star Game, which they've never done: "It’s been talked about from ownership on down. It’s something we want to do. It’s something I’m going to guess we’ll see here in the next five years. I think Orange County would be a great host. There are a number of cities that would like to host it and we would hope to think we’re near the top of that list.

Murray on the often-discussed minor league situation, where the Ducks don't currently have an affiliate but are spreading players around to different AHL teams. "Not having a minor league team is not a good situation," Murray said. "Because of what was going on in Iowa, we had no choice but to do what we did because of what was going on in Iowa. We’re desperate for a minor league affiliate because it's the lifeline of your team. We’re checking out a few places. We’re working on it every day."

This morning the Ducks cut down their final roster to the obligatory 23 by sending Brendan Mikkelson to one of the teams the Ducks are using, the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, and reassigning Logan MacMillan to Anaheim's ECHL affiliate in Bakersfield. That means Luca Sbisa is on the opening night roster, and his relief over that development is covered in a nice feature story by Matt Vevoda. We'll be finding out more later this week, like who the Ducks C and As will be, and just which masked man will get the start Saturday night.

Updated September 28 at 2:14 p.m.

The prevailing emotion among the Ducks when the game clock hit triple-zero last night at Honda Center was not necessarily that they had hung on for a 5-4 victory over the Kings. It was more like relief that the preseason was finally done.

"Well, it's over. The exhibition season is over," said Randy Carlyle. "It's a lot of hockey in a very short period of time. It's one of those things where you're not always happy with a lot of things that go on, but then you have at least a little bit of compassion for players that have to play eight games in 11 days. They're happy it's over. The coaching staff is happy. Now, they get a little bit of time here to start to prepare for San Jose."

And that final preseason game was a microcosm of the Ducks preseason -- there were things to like, and other things that looked like they needed some work.

The top two scoring lines? Definitely things to like. On that No. 1 line, Bobby Ryan had two goals and an assist, Corey Perry had a goal, Ryan Getzlaf (in just his second game back from sports hernia surgery rehab) had a goal and an assist. And that assist (2:00 mark on Ducks TV) came in the second period when Getzlaf slinged a no-look pass from behind the cage that was too hot for Perry to handle, but Ryan was right behind him to catch and shoot.

And there was no prettier play on the night than the one in the second line of Selanne, Koivu and Lupul put together with 2:35 left in regulation (2:50 mark of Ducks TV). Selanne streaked up ice near the right wing wall before handing the puck over to Koivu, who touch-passed to Lupul for the swinging one-timer off one knee. That gave the Ducks their third two-goal lead of the game, which should have been enough. But the Ducks let the Kings make a game of the final minute, allowing Anze Kopitar to repeatedly poke at the puck in the paint for a goal with 1:13 left. The Kings net was empty at the time, making that one of four man-advantage goals the Ducks gave up in the game -- an example of what not to like about last night.  

"That’s unacceptable,” Carlyle said. “We had opportunities to clear the puck, and we left pucks on the ice.”

But the Ducks offense ensured that didn't kill them last night, and Ryan's two goals continued a trend in which he's been a nuisance to the Kings. Ryan has six goals and two assists in eight career regular season games against L.A. That includes a goal in London two seasons ago and those three goals in 2:21 at STAPLES last year, punctuated by this goal I never get sick of watching.

The Ducks finished the preseason 5-3-0 and I raised an eyebrow when I learned that the Kings (4-3-1) finished the preseason with a record of .500 or better for the 21st straight year.

The Ducks had today off from practice, but now turn their focus to Saturday's highly anticipated season opener against the Sharks at Honda Center. And they will have the next four days to concentrate on shoring up that which they were lacking in the preseason. Ryan was asked to rate how ready the team was and said, "On a scale of 1 to 10, I guess somewhere around a 6 or a 7. We have a lot of ways to go. There are little detail areas we can certainly improve on, but I think guys are starting to find some chemistry."

Meanwhile, the other task for the coaching staff this week is paring that roster down to 23 guys by Wednesday, meaning the Ducks have to reassign two by noon Pacific. While there was some talk of Erik Christensen starting the year on the injured reserve list while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, he played 11:51 in his first preseason action last night.

“I think it’s too early to make any kind of comment about (players) hurting or helping (their chances),” Carlyle said. “We have some tough decisions coming.”

One of those decisions involves who will be between the pipes on opening night, and we'll get a little more into that later this week.

- - -

Former mega-popular Duck Brad May is currently getting a pro tryout with -- of all teams -- the Detroit Red Wings. May, who turns 38 in November, is thought to be a longshot to stick with the Wings. He played in the two preseason games the Wings had this past weekend, but did not accompany the team to Sweden, where it opens the season against St. Louis on Friday. If he's kept in the Detroit system, he's expected to be sent to their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.

May, who was traded to Toronto by the Ducks last year and finished the season there, said of his prospects this past offseason, "The phone's been ringing off the hook for years, but no calls this summer."

May is getting a shot with a Red Wings team that hasn't had much in the way of enforcers the past couple of seasons. "I just know he provides a physical presence," said coach Mike Babcock. "We don't feel we have much of it. We have had the ability to have Aaron Downey in the past couple years. We didn't have any this year. Sometimes it's a priority, especially in the early going."

May was asked why he didn't consider playing overseas in Russia like other NHL veterans have chosen to do (and Rob Niedermayer considered before signing last week with New Jersey).

"Money's awesome, no question about it, but it's not about that," May said. "I played in the National Hockey League for over half my life. This is what I want."

Detroit GM Ken Holland said the team will decide whether to sign May to a two-way contract after they get back from Sweden.

- - -

Interesting story by Jack Todd on the Montreal Gazette website about how shockingly underappreciated Saku Koivu was during his time in Montreal. A sample:

During all the years he was here, Koivu gave everything he had. Every game, every period, every shift. Sometimes it was enough, sometimes it wasn't. He never slammed the organization, never ripped his coach to the Finnish media. Never presented himself with anything but class.

Let's call a spade a spade here: Koivu's treatment by a segment of the fans and media in this community was a disgrace. It was so far off the mark that some of the "journalists" who were lining up to rip him for his lack of French should have their laptops confiscated.

After an exemplary Habs career during which he battled through every injury in the book and a few that weren't, survived cancer and became a leading spokesman for those trying to combat the disease, gave every moment of his spare time to helping sick kids and cancer victims wherever he could - after all that, Koivu has to endure the insults of people who aren't fit to carry his shoelaces.

Something tells me that's not going to be a problem here. I don't know about you all, but I'm already loving the guy.

Updated September 25 at 2:37 p.m.

As if Ducks fans aren't countin the days until the opening night enough, we get this picture thrown at us, a version of which we  wouldn't mind seeing another ... oh ... 500 more times this season.

This comes from last night's 3-2 overtime victory at Vancouver, when Teemu Selanne scored the game-winner with 1:11 in the extra session on an assist from the guy in the left side of the photo. Koivu had the puck bounce to him in the high slot and quickly shuttled it down low to Selanne in his familiar spot near the low circle. Looking like he might be planning a pass back to Koivu in front of the net, Selanne instead TOOKAQUICKWRISTSHOT and roofed it past the shoulder of goalie AndrewRaycroft (nickname: Not Roberto Luongo).

That gave way to the above celebration and the first defeat of the preseason for the Canucks, who made a valiant effort just to force OT. Anaheim cruised to a 2-1 lead late in the third courtesy of goals from Corey Perry and Ryan Whitney in the second period. Perry converted off a pass from Brendan Mikkelson and Whitney one-timed a feed from Ryan Getzlaf. Yes, that Ryan Getzlaf, who made his preseason debut after recovering from sports hernia surgery and played 20:40 in a line between Perry and Bobby Ryan.

Getzlaf was part of a Ducks lineup full of guys you can expect to see once the regular season gets rolling, while Vancouver iced the Sedin twins and Mikael Samuelsson on its top line. But forward like Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows, and half of the team's top defensemen were given the night off.

One of the defensemen in uniform became a hero for the Canucks, as former Duck Shane O'Brien put Anaheim's postgame celebration on hold with a goal through traffic with just 53.6 left.But Selanne's bad angle goal in the extra session spoiled the comeback.

The Ducks will look to do it all over again tonight in San Jose (radio broadcast again streamed live here). And they close out the preseason Sunday at home against the Kings. From there, it's six more daysof waiting ... for opening night Saturday at home. And starting then, we'll be looking for a lot more

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With his signing today with New Jersey, the Rob Niedermayer era in Anaheim is officially over. Niedermayer signed for one year for a reported $1 million, and is expected to join the team this morning. In this transcript of his conference call with reporters, including the irony of him signing with the Devils, the very same franchise that brother Scott left to join Rob in Anaheim in the summer of 2005.

Which makes you think, without Rob Niedermayer there's probably no Scott Niedermayer, which means there's probably no Stanley Cup. And Rob himself was a major force for the Ducks in that '07 run, scoring five goals in the 21 games, the same amount he scored all regular season. One of those goals was the second one in the clinching Game 5 of the Final, as Niedermayer forced his way in from the right wing and backhanded it through Ray Emery to give Anaheim a huge 2-0 lead late in the first.

But one of his biggest plays during that postseason came during the second overtime of the clinching Game 5 of the semis, when Niedermayer put a monster check on Jannik Hansen of the Canucks. The hit was so huge, many people missed what happened next, as the puck came out to brother Scott, who quickly threw it on net and past a distracted Roberto Luongo for the series-winner.

The departure of Niedermayer means the Ducks have just one player left -- Jean-Sebastien Giguere -- from that '03 team that lost in Game 7 of the Final to ... Scotty Niedermayer and those Devils. And while Rob just didn't fit into Anaheim's plans for this season, he was always a well-liked guy with a dry sense of humor who enjoyed nothing more than trying to screw up an on-camera interview with one of his teammates. There was one story I once heard second-hand that is even funnier when you imagine it delivered in Niedermayer's slow drawl. Near the end of the 2005-06 season, some playerswere discussing the candidates for the Norris Trophy (given to the league's top defenseman). Rob spoke up and said, "What about Scotty? He's made Franky [Francois Beauchemin] a better player." Then, he paused and sarcastically said, "Wish he'd make me a better player."

And of course there was that enduring image from post-Game 5 after the Ducks clinched the Cup, as Scott Niedermayer held it over his head, then nodded to his little brother before handing it off to him. It was a moment they both dreamed of when Scotty signed with Anaheim in 2005. Heck, it was something they dreamed of long before that.

Best of luck in New Jersey, Robbie.

Updated September 24 at 4:34 p.m.

The closer and closer we get to the start of the regular season, the more the team the Ducks put on the ice for preseason looks like the team that will be in there when the games start counting.

Tonight at Vancouver, that lineup is supposed to include another guy that has a pretty good shot to make the team coming out of training camp -- center Ryan Getzlaf. Ducks radio analyst Dan Wood reports from Vancouver that the Ducks are expected to have Getzlaf skate on the top line with Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, with a second line made up of Andrew Ebbett, Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne. Joffrey Lupul would probably be on that line, but he's likely sitting out tonight with a stiff back.

Wood also points out that the Ducks traveled to Vancouver a little differently than they would have during the regular season. They didn't even fly north until this morning and those expected to be in the lineup tonight didn't take part in a morning skate. Only the guys not suiting up tonight skated at GM Place.

“In the real world, we’d (have a morning) skate, but it’s preseason,” Carlyle said. “These are situations that it makes more sense financially to not add that burden at this point.”

(By the way, Wood will reporting all year on this site when the team is on the road, so continue to watch for that.)

Vancouver, meanwhile, is 6-0 in the preseason, something they are obviously taking with a grain of salt in that locker room. "It doesn't mean anything," says Daniel Sedin in this video. Or maybe it's Henrik. You can't actually tell because they don't throw a graphic up underneath his face.

The Canucks will come at Anaheim with a top line of the Sedin twins and former Red Wing Mikael Samuelsson. Vancouver played last night and pulled off a nice comeback victory over the Sharks after trailing 2-0 in the second period. And of course, they handed the Ducks their worst loss of the preseason, a 3-0 decision last week at Honda Center.

You can listen to the radio broadcast of this game tonight on AM 830 and it will again be streamed live on this site. And not to take away from either of those entities, but it looks as if the Vancouver website will stream the video feed of the game live as well.

- - -

Reader Sheila passes along this classic video of a four-year-old kid reenacting Herb Brooks pregame speech from "Miracle." He's definitely got it down, including the inflection in all the right places and even the bad suit. Although I will say that if Herb Brooks had to look down at his notes during the real speech, it might have lost some of its luster. "Tonight WE are the greatest ... wait a second ... where was I ... the greatest ... oh, here it is ... greatest hockey team in the world!"

Updated September 23 at 4:37 p.m.

A few thoughts on a rare day this preseason where the Ducks don't have a game today and didn't have one yesterday ...

- Defenseman Steve McCarthy was placed on waivers yesterday and cleared as of 9 a.m. this morning. He has not been re-assigned as of yet.

- Happy 26th birthday, Joffrey Lupul, who sat out practice with a stiff back today. Regardless, Randy Carlyle said of Lupul playing tomorrow night in Vancouver, "Hopefully he's an option."

- Whether Ryan Getzlaf will play Thursday or Friday at San Jose remains up in the air. Carlyle seemed to think he might be available further into the weekend, meaning the Sunday home game against the Ducks (last game of the preseason) might be a possibility.

- Meanwhile, Erik Christensen, who has sat out the whole preseason with a shoulder injury, could see time before the preseason is over. Helene Elliott of the L.A. Times has more on Christensen and on Kyle Calder in her story posted today. 

- Curtis Zupke has a nice feature on Luca Sbisa playing with Scott Niedermayer, in which Niedermayer says of the 19-year-old Italian, "He’s closer in age to my kids than me." (Thanks one more time, Scott Niedermayer, for making me feel old.) Sbisa had a great comment on Niedermayer, saying, "He makes the game so much easier. A fan wouldn’t even notice some things, but as a player, he just does the little things so well. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He makes the right passes. He always has his head up. It’s just the little things that I’ll see how he does and try to do myself.”

Not a bad strategy at all. Worked for a guy named Beauchemin once.

Updated September 22 at 2:58 p.m.

There was plenty to like about the Ducks' preseason bout with the San Jose Sharks last night at Honda Center.

Preseason or not, there was the 3-2 score in favor of the home team, as they yet again got the better of the men of teal. 

There was the look of all three of the Ducks goals, highlight-reel-worthy tallies by Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne and James Wisniewski.

There was the play of J.S. Giguere, who looked very solid in net.

There was the fact that last night's lineup was closer to the one we'll see coming opening night. And oh yeah, there was a Bobby Ryan fight.

We start with Perry, who made two slick moves to get his first of the preseason (2:40 mark of Ducks TV). He deked Jamie McGinn while emerging from behind the net, then completely fooled goalie Evgeni Nabokov by not taking a shot with the forehand, and dragging the puck to his backhand before roofing it.

Then the Flash gave the Ducks their first lead early in the third period on an absolutely breathtaking slap shot on the move up the right wing (3:05 mark of Ducks TV). Two inches either way on that shot and it doesn't go in, as it barely flew by Nabokov and hit the inside of the far post.

“Sometimes when you shoot, you get lucky,” Selanne said with a smile. Yeah, apparently 579 times in his career.

Four minutes after Selanne's goal it was Wisniewski, the product of the 3-on-1 rush with the Ducks shorthanded (3:25 mark of Ducks TV). Petteri Nokelainen fed Wisniewski from the right wing and Wiz could have easily tried to do too much by making the extra pass back to Nokelainen or to Andrew Ebbett streaking up the middle. But instead, Wisniewski laid into a one-timer from the high slot that Nabokov had no chance to stop.

That gave the Ducks a 3-1 lead that held until the Sharks got a too-little-too-late goal from Marc-Edouard Vlasic with 15.2 seconds left and the Sharks net empty for an extra attacker. The other Sharks goal came seemingly out of nowhere, a Benn Ferriero strike off a Scott Niedermayer turnover with 1.2 seconds left in the first period while plenty of fans had already headed up the aisle to the bathrooms and beer lines. Those were just about the only blemishes on Giguere's night, as he stopped 23 of the 25 San Jose shots and, as Randy Carlyle said, "made some big stops at some key times."

None was bigger than the one Giguere made on a Ferriero breakaway in the second period with the Sharks already up 1-0.

It was a big step for Giguere, who you know is going to fight hard for the No. 1 goalie spot after losing it last year to Jonas Hiller. Giguere talked to Helene Elliott of the L.A. Times yesterday about his difficult 2008-09 campaign. "There were a lot of things on my mind. I wasn't having fun coming to the rink. So it was really difficult for me to play last season," he said. "I tried to push that aside this summer and I tried to come in with a new attitude, a new jump, I guess, in my step. And just try to have fun if I come to the rink. And hopefully I'll be more relaxed, less tense, and not worry so much about winning and losing and giving up goals.

"At the end of the day, there's bigger issues in the world."

That may be true, but all indications are that Giguere has re-focused this summer and you'd be hard-pressed to find a harder-working goalie in this league.

Said Randy Carlyle about the goalie situation the rest of the preseason, "We're going to give them equal opportunity to play. Our plan is to give Giguere another game and make sure Hiller gets another, and we have [Justin] Pogge here if we have a back-to-back situation. We'll try to spell that out in that matter and we'll see where the chips fall."

Back to last night's game, in which there wasn't a ton of violence, but Bobby Ryan did surprisingly drop the gloves with McGinn 13:31 into the third period. Ryan took exception to a blindside hit McGinn laid on Perry at center ice, spinning Perry around and BR jumped in to get his linemate's back. Ryan said afterward that he was partially motivated by the fact he felt somewhat responsible for the hit.
"I put Perrs in jeopardy there with a tough pass into the middle and the guy could've lit him up pretty good," Ryan said. "I don't know if he held back or not, but you've got to come to a teammate's aid from time to time. When I put him in the position, I should be the one to do it."

Click on the picture to take a closer look at Ryan's right hand as he grips McGinn's jersey. It looks like the caption should read: This punch brought to you by the National Hockey League

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Reader Eric sent an email to point out the realism of the new NHL 10 video game -- which, by the way, is phenomenal. The new version has added so many great elements, including more time to drill guys after a whistle, first-person fighting and more crowd animations. (Yes, I'm 36 years old.)

Among those crowd animations is this one Eric sent of the Ducks faithful, completely with orange rally towels that are the exact design we used during the '07 Cup run.

Updated September 21 at 1:48 p.m.

Playing their fourth game in four nights, and not long after training camp even started, the Ducks were worn out and it showed Saturday night in Los Angeles. Anaheim could get little going offensively, aside from Saku Koivu's first goal as a Duck (more on that later), in going down 4-1 to their rivals up the freeway.

Four Kings goals meant we had to endure hearing that insipid "I Love L.A." song rain down from the rafters four times, but those are the breaks, I guess. And believe it or not, that's the last time the Ducks will be at STAPLES Center until January 14.

Joffrey Lupul, who played three of the first four preseason games, was asked afterward how he was feeling. "Tired," he said. "It's nice to get those four games over with, but we would have liked a little better effort. These last four games preseason are really going to be important so we can get off on the right foot to start the season. You don’t want to go into the season after playing  a stretch of games that you’re not happy with. We’ve got to get it together here.”

One positive of Saturday night, win or lose, was that Lupul picked up more experience playing on a line with Koivu and Teemu Selanne. That pairing made good in the second, when Selanne tried to thread a pass from the low circle into the crease, and it kicked out to Koivu, who backhanded it through from the low slot.

Lupul admitted he's trying to get used to playing the left wing, but hopes the group can stay together and keep improving the feel for playing with one another. "They’re both creative players," he said. "They’re both quick. I’ve got to get them the puck and go to the net and get myself open.”

Koivu acknowledged that if that trio remains intact come the regular season, they still have some work to do. “I think toward the end we got things going a bit better and we were able to cycle the puck a lot better in the second half,” Koivu said. “Still we are kind of a step behind getting scoring chances and quality chances. But that’s something that comes. Hopefully the chemistry improves and we’ll get a couple more practices in, a couple more games.”

Koivu said that to a small group of media who had been waiting for him to get out of the shower after the game. Todd Marchant was wandering around the locker room and happened to overhear one of the video guys for the Kings website mention they were waiting for Koivu. Marchant, who obviously realizes he bears somewhat of a resemblance to the Finnish center, tried to pull some trickery. "Guys, I'm right here," he said, fooling nobody. Nevertheless, he attemped a poor excuse for a Finnish accent while sitting down in a locker stall, pensively looking at the floor and telling no one in particular, "I thought we had a good effort tonight ... "

Tonight the Ducks will begin the second half of the eight-game preseason with a tilt with the Sharks, in which I would imagine some fists might fly. We don't have a lineup for tonight, as Ducks coaches are keeping that closer to the vest in these last four games.

However, there are a handful of prospects we know won't be in there tonight, since they were reassigned over the weekend. That includes forwards Shawn Weller, MacGregor Sharp, Matt Beleskey, Dan Sexton and Brandon McMillan, defensemen Brett Festerling and Brian Salcido and goalie Timo Pielmeier.

Among those players, all but McMillan (sent to his junior team in Kelowna) were sent to San Antonio of the AHL, as the Ducks share that affiliate with Phoenix for the time being. Salcido was sent to the Manitoba Moose, but first had to clear waivers, which he did as of 9 a.m. this morning.

Ryan Getzlaf will also not be in there, though just before going out to skate with the rest of the Ducks not suiting up tonight, he told reporters that he thinks he is still on target to play the last two preseason games (September 25 at San Jose and September 27 at home vs. L.A.).

- - -
Think you're the biggest Corey Perry fan on the planet? You're not even close. A reader named Dave from London, Ontario (where Perry played his junior hockey for the Knights), sent me an email last week with the following picture (click the photo to make it larger. An excerpt: 

I have 14 Perry Ducks jerseys starting with his first preseason game and first NHL goal jerseys, first game jersey in which he had a multi-point game and was named first star, his two jerseys from the opening season trip to Britain etc. just to name a few. I have included a photo of a small sampling of my Perry collection complete with 16 x 20 autographed photo matches of the jerseys displayed in the cases.

My personal favorite part -- the chair he had made from Perry's London Knights jersey. Not sure how the PGA Tour pillows fit in, but still a heck of a room.

Updated September 18 at 2:34 p.m.

It's best not to get too high or too low during this time of year. A 3-2 shootout victory over Phoenix to start things off? Nice, but no reason to start making Stanley Cup parade plans. A 3-0 defeat with little production offensively against Vancouver the very next night? Disappointing, but hardly a catastrophe.

The Ducks couldn't get any of their 28 shots through Roberto Luongo and substitute Cory Schneider, who came in for the third period. Meanwhile, Ducks starter J.S. Giguere gave up a goal in each of the first two periods, while Justin Pogge (projected to be the No. 3 guy this year) gave up one second-period goal among the 20 shots he faced.

“I felt a little sloppy out there but I think in the third period I cleaned up my act a little bit,” said Pogge, who was sporting a plain white mask instead of the Leafs-themed one he wore in Toronto.

“We got outplayed,” Randy Carlyle said. “There wasn’t a lot of things that we could be happy with from the standpoint of our team game.”

But at least Ducks fans got to see the debut of Saku Koivu, who had three shots on goal. in 18:37 of ice time while playing alongside Teemu Selanne and Kyle Calder. After the game, Koivu admitted to some butterflies. He said of the Ducks sweater, "It felt a little odd the first time I put it on before the game. I was pretty nervous, even though it was just a preseason game. It’s a new situation for me after 13 years in Montreal. I’m glad the first one is over with."

See, even Koivu says it's just a preseason game.

Speaking of Koivu, Curtis Zupke has a nice piece on how the longtime Habs captain is already fitting in with his new team. Bobby Ryan calls Koivu, “Very professional. He comes in the room and he’s got that 15-year swagger about him. It’s good for the young guys. He goes out of his way every day to talk to the guys. I think that’s important for the young guys.”

And Koivu comments, “I always remember when I came to the league it felt good and made me feel a lot more comfortable when some of the older guys talked to me and gave me a couple of pointers.”

Koivu, Selanne and company didn't make the trip to Phoenix for tonight's preseason game 3 at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, where the Ducks will ice pretty much the same lineup that beat the 'Yotestwo nights ago. The radio broadcast of that game will again be streamed live exclusively on AnaheimDucks.com.

Updated September 17 at 10:58 a.m.

Just in case Ducks fans forgot about Bobby Ryan over the past four months, he reminded them in the preseason opener last night at Honda Center.

Ryan had two goals in regulation and led off the shootout with a conversion in a strange environment where he was one of the veterans during a 3-2 shootout victory over the Coyotes.

Though let's face it, neither of Ryan's goals were pretty. Goal No. 1 came following a rush with rookie Dan Sexton, who fired a shot from the wing that caromed off goalie Jason LaBarbera and redirected off a charging Ryan's shin pad into the net. Goal No. 2 came after Ryan led his own rush up the wing, and he didn't get a lot of puck on a wrist shot that glanced off defenseman Dan Schlemko's stick and got past LaBarbera (see both goals on Ducks TV). Nevertheless, I liked Steve Carroll's call after that second goal: "Bring on some more Bobby Ryan!"

And it was almost a foregone conclusion that Ryan would lead off the shootout with a goal, deking left and right before almost effortlessly beating LaBarbera gloveside.

But B.R. was hardly the only thing to like in the Ducks victory. And that started even before puck drop, when Courtney Duckworth (yes, the girl I recommended audition) sang a fantastic national anthem (both visually and audibly). But there was more to be impressed with during the actual hockey game:

- Luca Sbisa glides around the ice and delivers the puck with the ease and confidence of a guy much older than his 19 years of age. I think Ducks fans are really going to like this guy.

- Evgeny Artyukhin continues to be massive, but skates like a 180-pounder. On a couple of occasions, he beat much smaller players to the puck as both chased it into the corner.

- Jonas Hiller is still very good.

- Also very good is Timo Pielmeier, the goalie prospect the Ducks got in the Moen-Huskins trade last March. Pielmeier, who reportedly was nearly unstoppable in the first rookie game in San Jose, was at it again last night. He stopped 28 of 29 shots after entering midway through the second period as a routine substitution for Hiller. And he slammed the door on shootout attempts by Kevin Porter and Kyle Turris to lock down the victory.

- Troy Bodie not only skated well last night, but get this, fought well too. Bodie got into a second period scrap with Daniel Winnik and annihilated Winnik with a series of roundhouse rights. He also had a rocket of a shot in the first period that appeared (even on the replay) to hit the net just inside the post and rebound out. Alas, it was ruled no goal.

By the way, also on Ducks TV, you can watch George Parros talk about his working in the Honda Center -- along with Corey Perry, Brett Festerling and Andrew Ebbett -- to welcome fans back. I got a text right before the game that said, "George Parros is working in the will call window!"

Parros, Perry and Ebbett will be among the completely different cast of characters that will be in uniform tonight as the Ducks take on Vancouver. Also in the lineup: Scott Niedermayer, Teemu Selanne, J.S. Giguere and the first appearanace of Saku Koivu. It's the first-ever NHL game not in a Canadiens uniform for Koivu, who spent 13 seasons in Montreal.

Updated September 16 at 3:24 p.m.

For the past couple of days leading up to tonight's preseason opener, I've been getting a few emails with some form of "Are you excited?" in them. And the answer to each one of them has been pretty much the same:

Not .. quite.

Let me explain. As a team employee you kind of get comfortable with the offseason. Things are a little slower, the deadlines are a little looser, you're not wearing a suit three times a week. And with the preseason starting sooner than normal this season, there was that slight feeling that it had kind of snuck up on us.

But now that feeling's gone. We're less than four hours away from gametime and even though it's just the preseason, I'm pumped. No, your full 2009-10 Ducks won't be out there tonight, but to see hockey in this arena for the first time in more than four months -- to see Ducks fans pouring into this place for the first time since last May -- is going to feel like reuniting with an old friend.

It's just the preseason, but I'm jacked. Can't imagine what October 3 is going to feel like.

Again, the Ducks will have the likes of Bobby Ryan, Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and Jonas Hiller in there tonight. The Coyotes, who split a home-and-away split-squad series with the Kings last night, will ice "veterans" like Peter Mueller, Mikkel Boedker and Kyle Turris, while former King Jason LaBarbera is supposed to get the start in goal. Here's the Ducks lineup again:
Bobby Ryan-Peter Holland-Dan Sexton
Nicolas Deschamps-Maxime Macenauer-Joffrey Lupul
Evgeny Artyukhin-Ryan CarterTroy Bodie
Matt Beleskey-Petteri Nokelainen-Mike Brown
Luca Sbisa-Sheldon Brookbank   
Brian Salcido-Nick Boynton   
Brendan Mikkelson-Steve Eminger   
Jonas Hiller       
Timo Pielmeier       

The NHL requires each team to play a minimum of eight so-called veterans in each preseason game, which according to the collective bargaining agreement, is a skater who player in 30 games during the previous season, or a goalie who dressed for 50 (or played 30). It can also be a first-round draft choice from 2009 (that would be Holland in Anaheim's case) or a player who has appeared in 100 or more career games.

Randy Carlyle commented yesterday on his choice of who plays when in the preseason: "I don't believe it's necessary for Scott Niedermayer to play eight exhibition games, or Teemu Selanne, or Saku Koivu, or Giguere. That's all part of why you have other players around to support your players. You get a good look at all your drafts, all your pro players in their development."

Speaking of Carlyle, we got a good look at what it will be like with the increased presence of Finnish media yesterday during the coach's post-practice media scrum. One reporter asked about the likelihood of Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu playing together on a line this season, and Carlyle responded, "We know the history of the two players. I think they played together in World Championships and in Olympic years. We will assess that. It makes a lot of sense for them to play together, but if it doesn't work, what do you do?"

The reporter looked Carlyle in the eye and said, "Um ... it will work." Through a room full of laughter, Carlyle said, "It's easy for you to say. This is a different league."

Later that same reporter said something to Carlyle about how the Ducks hadn't seen Koivu play very often and Carlyle interrupted with a smile, "Well, we do have the NHL Package."

- - -

Joffrey Lupul was reportedly very charming and entertaining during a Q&A and autograph held last night at the headquarters for the O.C. Register during a special event for Register Insiders. One of the first questions he fielded from host and Register columnist Jeff Miller was the origin of his name. He was asked if it came from the Joffrey Ballet and he said with a laugh, "I'm not named after a ballet. I'm a hockey player." Then he explained, "My parents, when they had me, were going to a university and were reading a novel by an author, Geoffrey Chaucer. They liked the name."

When asked if he was disappointed that he didn't get to wear No. 15, which he's had his whole career, Lupul joked, "I was a little upset at first, especially because the guy who wears it now (Getzlaf) is a lousy player. I've always been 15. After that, I kind of said, 'Whatever.'"

Updated September 15 at 3:48 p.m.

As much as it's hard to believe, we're only three days into Ducks training camp and we're already facing our first preseason game tomorrow night against the Coyotes at Honda Center. And there was some good hockey to be seen today at Anaheim Ice during the back-to-back 40-minute scrimmages.

One guy who stood out this afternoon was Ryan Carter, not just because he was all over the ice and scored at least one goal, but also because he has unquestionably the reddest face of any guy out there. Carter is among a handful of players fighting for an opening night spot among a crowded group of forwards, and he definitely helped himself this afternoon.

Other observations of note on day 3:

- Scott Niedermayer still appears to have the heartrate of a man taking an afternoon nap as he glides around the ice seemingly effortlessly
- Teemu Selanne is still incredibly fast, even at 38
- We are really going to enjoy Saku Koivu, who today was showing off his playmaking ability while setting up Selanne and others today. Yesterday he scored twice in the scrimmage.
- Evgeny Artyukhin is shocking huge and surprisingly quick for a man his size. (In fact, I heard a story today that while Artyukhin was in Tampa Bay, he bragged that he was the fastest guy on the team. So his teammates set up a race between him and speedster Martin St. Louis and Artyukhin beat him.)
- Brendan Mikkelson (yes, Brendan Mikkelson) is apparently a penalty shot savant. He had two during the scrimmage today (no power plays in scrimmages, so penalty shots are awarded for minors) and buried them both top shelf.
- Luca Sbisa is going to be a very good player.
- The area even with center ice on the standing level above the bleachers for the Olympic rink at Anaheim Ice is possibly the coldest spot in North America.

Here's the lineup for tomorrow's opening preseason game at Honda Center, which features guys like Ryan, Lupul, Sbisa and Hiller. (The likes of Niedermayer, Selanne, Koivu and Perry will likely make their debuts Thursday night against Vancouver.)
Bobby Ryan-Peter Holland-Dan Sexton
Nicolas Deschamps-Maxime Macenauer-Joffrey Lupul
Evgeny Artyukhin-Ryan Carter-Troy Bodie
Matt Beleskey-Petteri Nokelainen-Mike Brown
Luca Sbisa-Sheldon Brookbank   
Brian Salcido-Nick Boynton   
Brendan Mikkelson-Steve Eminger   
Jonas Hiller       
Timo Pielmeier       

And this just in: Several of the Ducks players not playing in tomorrow night's game will help welcome fans back by working at various locations at Honda Center. (That also goes for those players not playing Thursday night.) Starting at 6:30 p.m., players will work alongside Ducks/Honda Center staff members at locations such as the box office, team store, concession stands, etc. There will be a listing at the Fan Zone (located across from section 210) as to what players are participating and where they are located.

None of the preseason games will be televised, and the firsts four won't be carried on AM 830 since there is a conflict with Angels baseball. However, the radio broadcast of those games will be streamed live on this website, starting tomorrow night, where you can hear Dan Wood debut alongside Steve Carroll.

Meanwhile, I will resume my live game log starting tomorrow night, as well as Thursday night at home and Saturday night in Los Angeles for the game against the Kings. 

If you're in the building tomorrow night, the anthem has kind of a special meaning to me, since the singer is a girl I met after she sang at a friend's wedding earlier this summer. I urged her to send in an audition tape and she was hired for tomorrow night. Her name? Christina Duckworth.

You can't make this stuff up.

- - -

Among the talk during this week has been a possibly change in philosophy by Randy Carlyle when it comes to the Ducks forward lines. Carlyle has indicated he might stray away from having his third line be a checking (or shut-down) line with the influx of scorers Anaheim brought in this offseason. That's a significant change in strategy for a team that has relied on a strong checking line for the last four seasons. That was especially evident in '07, when the Conn Smythe went to Scott Niedermayer, but could have easily been split between Samuel Pahlsson/Rob Niedermayer/Travis Moen.

But with the defense displayed by Anaheim's top line in the last postseason and the addition of guys like Koivu and Joffrey Lupul, the Ducks are considering a change. "Historically we've played a checking line," Carlyle said, "but with the emergence of Getzlaf, Perry and last year Bobby Ryan, we felt we could play those guys up against anybody's so-called number one line in the league. That's a steppingstone.

“We haven’t really looked upon anything other than trying to create three offensive lines. When you have the ability to put Selanne and Koivu together and find a winger that can play with them. There are still some people that maybe you’d like to put in a third-line position that have offensive skills behind them.”

That might mean that the idea of Lupul playing with the two Finns (which has been assumed by many ever since the Ducks traded for Lupul in June) might be shaken up. Carlyle harkened back to four seasons ago when he reminded reporters that Lupul played on a second line with Todd Marchant and Dustin Penner, including the famous four-goal playoff game against Colorado. There is of course no Penner, but there is some speculation his role would be filled by a guy with a similar build -- Artyukhin. There is also the possibility of guys like Andrew Ebbett or Erik Christensen taking that wing.

“There’s some history there,” Caryle said. “We haven’t forgotten about that … That’s one of those things that you might look at, but we’re a long ways away from that. But those are things you visualize.”

- - -

You may have seen the Ducks released their 2009-10 TV schedule yesterday, in which 69 of the 82 regular season games will be televised. The best piece of news? There are 50 games on PRIME TICKET and FS WEST, all of them broadcast in high definition. That is what's known in the business as a very good thing.

Updated September 13 at 4:14 p.m.

It’s here. It’s finally here.

It’s been 122 days since Ducks fans hearts were broken by a gut-twisting Game 7 loss in Detroit. And in the aftermath of that defeat, we’ve been anxiously looking ahead to what finally arrived today – training camp day 1.

And during those 122 days, so much has happened to this team:

- Chris Pronger out; Joffrey Lupul and Luca Sbisa in.
- Francois Beauchemin signs in Toronto.
- Scott Niedermayer decides he’ll give it at least one more year.
- Teemu Selanne decides he’ll give it at least one more year.
- Saku Koivu comes to Anaheim after 13 years in Montreal.
- Nick Boynton, Steve Eminger and Steve McCarthy are signed to shore up the defense.
- Evgeny Artyukhin is acquired via trade
- Guys like Todd Marchant and James Wisniewski are re-upped.

And as Ducks fans, we’ve watched all of it unfold on newspaper and website pages, but it wasn’t until today we were able to see actual Ducks together on actual ice. And by the looks of things at THE RINKS - Anaheim ICE, this day couldn’t come soon enough. There were more than 1,000 Ducks fans in the building, filling the entire bleacher section (seating capacity is 800) and requiring others to squeeze together in the standing areas near the glass. And the ovation those fans let out when the Ducks first filed out of the locker room and onto the sheet this morning collectively announced one thing for certain: Oh, yeah. We’re ready.

Those fans remained rapt during the 80 minutes of Ducks scrimmages, two running-clock sessions held first on the NHL ice, then on the other side of the rink on the Olympic ice. And for the record, the first goal of 2009-10 training camp went to Troy Bodie, who slipped the puck past a 2009 playoff hero by the name of Jonas Hiller.

Other than that, not a ton of scoring (two of the “goals” were on the penalty shots awarded after minors, since they don’t do power plays in these scrimmages), and not a lot of space to be had on the ice. Goaltending was just as stingy, as J.S. Giguere took the first steps in showing we may have a serious battle for the No. 1 spot this year. And beyond this year, things look promising in net for Anaheim, which got another good showing from Timo Pielmeier. The 20-year-old German the Ducks got in that Moen-Huskins trade with San Jose last March was reportedly lights out in the first rookie game in San Jose, nearly stealing that game on his own before the Ducks lost in a shootout.

Following the scrimmages came some on-ice conditioning for the Ducks, who stretched at center ice before doing skating circuits around the rink and finally calling it a day.

Tomorrow they’ll do it all over again – same time, same place and same goal in mind: to get their bodies ready for this season and to fight for the few roster spots that remain up for grabs. And if you can believe it, our first preseason game is in three days.

After today’s session was all over, reporters got their quotes from a few guys, but everyone was waiting around for one in particular – Koivu. And they all wanted to know, how did he feel about his first ever NHL training camp NOT in Montreal?

“I was a bit nervous,” Koivu admitted, “I was excited more than probably ever before. After last year, I wanted to get a new challenge and a new environment for myself and my family. I’m extremely happy to be here.”

And there was one part of his comments that really stood out. “I’ve waited for this day,” Koivu said. “For a long time now.”

We know the feeling.

Updated September 12 at 2:24 p.m.

They won’t be on the ice until tomorrow morning, but Ducks players took part in the first day of training camp today with the annual medical and photo day at the Doubletree Inn in Anaheim.

Check out photos of Medical/Photo Day
It’s not every day that a gathering of thousands of women can alter the plans of a hockey team, but the Ducks had to move from their usual venue because the second day of Women of Faith. The Ducks made do in two of the hotels conference rooms. That hardly changed the routine, in which players were shuttled from station to station in one room – taking headshots, portrait shots, filling out questionnaires and doing video promos for everything from Prime Ticket to Ducks TV.

During that segment, the players stood in front of a green screen and followed instructions given to them by Ducks staffer (and star of Ducks TV and The Element) Kent French. Everything from “look into the camera with no expression on your face” to “stand with your back to the camera and pretend this screen is a giant iPhone.” (This stuff will make sense to you all later this season.) And then there are the various lines they’re asked to repeat for television, each of them somehow doing it without a hint of emotion. 

“Hi, this is Ryan Getzlaf and you’re watching the Ducks on Prime Ticket.”
“Hi, this is Ryan Getzlaf and you’re watching The Element.”
“Hi, this is Ryan Getzlaf and you’re watching the Ducks and Senators on KDOC.”

Some players did it flawlessly; some needed a few takes. (I’m not going to mention any names, but one of them rhymes with “Schmeemu Schmelanne.”)

That was the easy part for the players. The more grueling part was when they had to cross the hotel lobby to the larger conference room, where each underwent various tests that included physicals, body fat measuring (no, thank you) and endurance tests on a hockey player’s best friend – the stationary bike.

Even though the players have already been unofficially working out together on the ice over the past week or so, this day always feels like the first day of school, as everyone gathers together for the first time since last spring. (Although, I guess it would be private school since they’re all kind of wearing the same uniform.)

Among the sights I observed today:

- Scott Niedermayer walking up to Luca Sbisa and introducing himself for the first time, Sbisa hardly knowing what to say.

- Bobby Ryan talking about the home in Newport Beach he just purchased and how much of a pain it’s been to furnish it. (Sometimes we forget that professional athletes are, like, real people.)

- J.S. Giguere appearing to be in very good physical shape.

- Brian Salcido almost knocking over one of the lights near the green screen – twice.
- Nick Boynton grinding as he speed-pedaled for an endurance test on the bike, as his new teammates yelled out “Come on, Boyts!” to pump him up (and mess with him a little). 

- Saku Koivu starting to establish a reputation as possibly the nicest guy on this team.

- Joffrey Lupul looking very tan.

- Brendan Mikkelson, while doing the promo shots in front of the video camera, doing a Ricky Bobby impression from “Talladega Nights” and saying, “I don’t know what to do with my hands." Funny kid, that Mikkelson.

- Players filling out questionnaires, looking up asking questions like, “Who the heck is my hockey hero?”

The one great thing about this day every year is that it signals the unofficial start of the season around these parts. Tomorrow all these same guys hit the sheet at Anaheim Ice, starting at 9:45 a.m., in front of what promises to be a full house of Ducks fans dying for the season to start just as much as these guys are.

Updated September 9 at 3:54 p.m.

We're four days from the opening of training camp, and if you think you're itching for the season to start, you're not alone. Under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, players are only allowed to work out on their own right now. Yesterday they had 23 guys skating at Anaheim Ice (a typical turnout around this time of year is about a dozen.) That should pump you up a bit.

But let's talk some Luca Sbisa, since among the Ducks expected to make the roster, he's the only one playing games right now. (Well, he's the only one playing hockey right now. The rest are playing today in the annual golf tournament at Oak Creek in Irvine, and we'll have photos tomorrow.

Sbisa is already raising some eyebrows at rookie camp with some plays that makes everybody forget he's a 19-year-old kid. “He’s starting to develop into a young man, and it’s very, very evident on the ice,” said Randy Carlyle.

The Italian-born-and-Switzerland-raised Sbisa has already commented on a couple of occasions about his reaction to the June trade that brought him and Joffrey Lupul to Anaheim for Chris Pronger and other considerations. And, he admits, he was a little jarred by the news. "It took me a couple of days to let it settle in," said Sbisa, who revealed he was back home in Italy for only about two hours before he was told about the trade. "I thought I had a great time in Philly. But after a couple of days I got more and more excited and I saw the opportunity I would have here."

Sbisa ultimately made his way out to Orange County, where he soon went to work with Ducks Strength and Conditioning Coach Sean Skahan, the same guy who has been put in charge of rounding Bobby Ryan into shape the last two summers. And that's not all Sbisa has in common with Ryan. As soon as he got out here, he was taken in by Ryan into his new home in Newport Beach. "He just got his house the day before I moved into his house, so there was no furniture. We had to go buy a blow-up mattress," Sbisa said, laughing. "But that's how good of a guy he was." (Sbisa has since gotten his own place in Newport.)

Most Ducks fans probably haven't yet heard Sbisa speak (I know I myself was wondering just how heavy an accent a kid born in Italy and raised in Switzerland would have.) But you get your chance in this interview Steve Carroll did with him following last night's 5-0 loss in the second game of the rookie tournament up in San Jose. It was the second straight loss for the Ducks rooks (following a 2-1 shootout defeat on Monday night) and I like the fact that Sbisa is taking the losses so hard, even though they're exhibitions. "We just have to expect more from each other. We know we're a bunch of good individuals, but we've got to play like a team. Right now we're just getting outbattled out there. I know I'm a new guy with the Ducks, but I know every game with the San Jose Sharks is a big rivalry game."

Sbisa also relayed that in the 2008 draft he was hoping to get picked by the Ducks. They picked 17th and he went two picks later to Philly. "It's funny how things turn around," he said. "I'm really happy to be here. It's a good opportunity for me and it felt really good to put that Ducks jersey on."

Once Sbisa joins the Ducks veterans in next week's camp, we'll see just where he fits in among the top six defenseman. That group got a little different look when the Ducks signed Steve Eminger late last week. Eminger played for three different teams -- Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Florida -- last season and has a ton of NHL experience for a 25-year-old. He's already got 283 games under his belt, while fellow 25-year-old James Wisniewski has just 185. Eminger can certainly offer some guidance to Sbisa (and they were briefly teammates in Philly), as he too started his NHL career as a teenager, breaking in at 18. Eminger was the 12th overall pick of the Washington Capitals in the 2002 draft, coincidentally behind Joffrey Lupul and Ryan Whitney. He spent his first five seasons in Washington, including the first two under an assistant coach named Randy Carlyle.

At 6-2, 212 pounds, Eminger is big enough to be physical, but moves well enough to be a threat on either side of the red line. He has a respectable five goals and 21 assists in 71 games last season. And even though he is still working on reaching the expectations that were thrust upon him as a teenager, McNab pointed out that often defensemen take time to develop at this level. “Last year he had an awfully good year," McNab said. "I don’t think anybody cares what happened in the past.”

Oh, and Eminger was born on Halloween. (See, it's for reasons like that you come to this blog.)

Another new face in camp this year is that of Kyle Calder, who the Ducks signed to a professional tryout agreement. Calder is not officially signed with the team, but can practice and play in the preseason. During that time the Ducks will evaluate him and decide if they want to sign the nine-year veteran. Calder played the last two seasons with the Kings, where he had eight goals and 19 assists in 74 contests last year. He had a career-best 26 goals during the 2005-06 campaign with Chicago.

- - -
Ryan Getzlaf was one of the few Ducks not taking part in individual workouts the past couple of days, but only because he's part of an NHL media tour in New York right now. Getzlaf has, however, been skating on his own in recent days. He told reporters over the weekend that while he's ahead of schedule in his recovery from sports hernia surgery, he's taking things cautiously (a luxury he can afford at this time of year). 

“We’re going to ease into this thing,” Getzlaf said. “There’s no point jumping into camp full bore right away. We’ve got to be ready for October. I”m sure I’ll be part of the practices. You never know. We’re playing it by ear.”

- - -
You may have noticed the Ducks message board has been down the past few days while we do some upgrades. Well, it's back up and running again, so post your (always-well-thought-out) comments to your heart's delight.

Updated September 8 at 2:15 p.m.

Slight hiatus with a combination of the long weekend and taking care of some other Ducks-related matters. I'll be back with more tomorrow.

Updated September 2 at 1:34 p.m.

Some thoughts while wondering why people think things like “…is at work right now” is an interesting Facebook post …

- If you haven’t watched it yet, we’ve posted part 1 of Bob Murray’s interview on The Element in which Murray offers a number of thoughtful remarks, including a comparison of Anaheim's postseason run last year to one three seasons ago. "I kind of got the feeling after from the players that it was somewhat similar to the year we went to the [conference finals] against Edmonton," Murray said in his sitdown with Kent French. "We had that same feeling of, You know, we're not that far away ... maybe if we make a few changes, try to fill some holes, maybe there is a chance, because we have that core group of veterans who know how to win."

Murray offers a bit of an inside look on the day he traded Chris Pronger with this anecdote: "I can't lie to you. When the decision was made at the draft, I finally left all my people and I decided, I've got to do the Chris thing," Murray reveals, saying it was before Scott Niedermayer told him he was coming back for another year. "I came into the room and said, 'I'm doing it, guys.' They just kind of looked at me. And as I was walking out the door -- we had just changed into our suits to go to the draft floor -- and Scotty called me. God, that felt good then. We had made the decision. It was time to move forward. It was the right decision regardless. We had to move on, but it was nice to get that phone call." 

Murray also gave a thought on 19-year-old Luca Sbisa that he hadn't indicated before: “If he cannot be in my top five, he’s not going to play here. If I don’t sense Randy is going to play him, I will not keep him here and have him sit on the bench. You can’t have a 19-year-old kid sitting on the bench."

But Murray continued to be high on Sbisa's potential, saying, "He has all the tools. I think our fans are going to love him. His poise, his body language, how he acts on the ice with the men. He wasn't intimidated by it. He just fit right in. This kid's ready."

Part 1 ends with Murph remarking about Niedermayer, "From all I hear, Scotty is excited, he's trained hard. It could be a special year."

Let's hope so.

- Yesterday was a special day for Ducks season ticket holders, because the Ducks started mailing out these season ticket books yesterday.

I wanted to link to a video of Jimmy Fallon's character in Fever Pitch running out to the street in boxers and bare feet to get his Red Sox season tickets from the UPS guy, but alas I couldn't find it.

- The Ducks entertainment department is asking for your help this season. We'd like to hear your suggestions for music and movie clips to be played at opportune moments in Ducks games at Honda Center this year.

Click over to this page and offer us your ideas. And try to keep it serious.

(Or ... not.)  

- Finally having my DirecTV installed: Good. Finding out there's no more Versus on there: Not so good ... for now.

This is what you will find on your screen if you try to flip to Versus on DirecTV right now. A message that reads in part: Comcast, which owns Versus, has forced us to take down the channel because we will not submit to their unfair and outrageous demands.

I'm wondering if the DirecTV PR department was invited to the meeting in which they decided on posting that message.

In case you've missed it, DirecTV is in a dispute with Comcast for "demanding renewal terms that did not reflect market value for the channel" and the two sides have been battling for some time now.

Here's hoping something gets resolved soon. Of course, on September 2 it really doesn't bother us hockey fans all that much. Come October (and especially next spring), it certainly will.
- Those of you who play fantasy hockey on Yahoo will notice they have revealed the top 100 players ranked for auto-draft for 2009-10. Ranked No. 5 in the NHL behind Ovechkin, Malkin, Crosby and Parise is none other than Corey Perry. Ryan Getzlaf is listed right after Perry at No. 6.

- Reader Erin asked me to bring some attention to something, which I'm only agreeing to do because she smartly used the term "your amazing and wonderful blog" in her email. She is helping put together a Team Ducks for the 2009 Walk Now for Autism, which will be held Nov. 14 at Angel Stadium, and they're trying to get as many Ducks fans to join the team. If you're interested, click here for the team site, where you can join the team or if you can't get there, make a donation to the cause. For more information about the event itself, click here.

Updated September 1 at 11:23 a.m.

As a follow-up to yesterday's photos of the Honda Center ice being painted, here's a look at the completed project. Notice the new Ducks "D" at center ice, in addition to a slick new look for the red line.

You know what would make that look even cooler? Some skaters. First preseason game is 15 days away.