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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.


Ducks Blog by Adam Brady offers an entertaining inside look at the Anaheim Ducks, the NHL and other topics. Visit this page often for news, commentary, photos, links and much more.
(All times Pacific unless otherwise noted.)


Updated August 22 at 3:47 p.m.

Ducks fans who were pleased by last week’s optimistic update from Jonas Hiller got more encouraging news today when it comes to the tickets they’ll buy for next year. The Ducks announced a reduction in the average price of individual game tickets, as well as the introduction of “all in” pricing.

While the cost of buying your tickets at the box office remains flat relative to last season, those purchasing tickets on the internet will benefit from a price reduction and no surprises when it comes to fees typically associated with online ticket purchasing. 

The fees for having your tickets mailed to you, or to print them immediately through TicketFast, have been eliminated, while Ticketmaster fees, facility fees and sales tax have been incorporated into the ticket price you see online. In other words, when you see a ticket priced at $27 on the website, you’ll pay $27 when you checkout. The ticket price you see is the ticket price you get -- a refreshing change for all of us who have seen dollar figures go up between the time we choose our seats and the time we enter our credit card information. (How many of us have experience a similar frustration when purchasing things like airline tickets or hotel rooms online?)

Meanwhile, the Ducks have adopted a new pricing structure with six additional price points that allow the average individual ticket cost to decrease by 12.6% across the board. Also as part of that new pricing plan, the amount of $40-or-less tickets available has gone up by 348% -- from approximately 1,300 seats to 6,000. I’ll give you an example:

Last season, tickets in the Terrace Value area (rows P and higher in the eight sections behind each of the goals) were priced at $20.50 and often sold out quickly. The next-cheapest ticket price was in rows A-N in those 16 sections -- as well as all rows in the corner sections of that level. They were priced at $41.50. Now, with the revamped pricing structure, those tickets are priced at $25, $27, $32 and $36, giving fans more options for a relatively lower-priced ticket. (Click the map above to get a better idea. Specific prices for individual tickets will be made available soon.)

“We’ve spent an awful lot of time listening to our fans,” said Ducks Executive Vice President and COO Tim Ryan. ”When it comes to the decision on ticketing, they’ve been pretty clear that they’d simply like to know the price of the ticket on the front end of the purchase. We’ve spent time with Ticketmaster and we were able to work it out. Personally, I thnk it’s going to be very well received.”

The Ducks still remain in the bottom 10 in the league in average ticket price (bottom being good in this case), and of the nine teams below the Ducks, only two (Phoenix and Tampa Bay) made the playoffs last year. (Interestingly enough, the team with the highest average ticket price this year? Winnipeg.)

Individual tickets go on sale this Saturday at 10 a.m. on AnaheimDucks.com, and special presales will be available for our followers on Facebook and Twitter (we’ll give details within the coming days).

Updated August 19 at 2:24 p.m.

The good news from this morning got even better when Jonas Hiller sounded in good spirits as he chatted with reporters via conference call from his home in Switzerland this afternoon. (Well, it was afternoon our time. It was around 10:00 at night where he was.) 

Hiller elaborated on his statement released by the Ducks earlier in the day, which said he was free from the vertigo symptoms that caused him to miss most of the last three months of last season.

Hiller admitted he was "a little nervous" getting back on the ice this summer, which he first did at former Ducks goalie coach Francois Allaire's camp. But he said he was encouraged right away. "I went back on the ice and felt pretty good right off the bat," Hiller said. "I never felt like I was off a lot."

Hiller is now skating with Swiss club SC Bern on a daily basis, including taking part in some scrimmages, and has been encouraged. "Day-by-day it's gotten better," he says. "It was just great to feel better. I can’t really put a date on it, but pretty much for the last month and a half when I have been skating, it has been progressing. At some point, I pretty much have to say I am where I used to be ... I’m feeling great in practice. I see the puck well. I’m definitely looking forward to being back playing as soon as possible."

He was inevitably asked if there was concern that the symptoms might someday return, and he said, "I can’t think too much about it. Sure, it’s tough to just put away because I missed quite a few games because of it. At the same time, I’m doing everything right and I’m working hard. I did a lot of stuff to get better this summer and it helped. I stopped thinking too much about it. You can’t totally blank it out, but I’m not worried about it.

"Sure, I wish I would know what caused it just to prevent it in the future. I’m just happy I’m feeling better. So far nobody could tell me. If somebody can tell me at some point, it’s cool. If not, it’s not going to change how I feel right now. I’m feeling good and that makes me happy."

And he's not the only one.

Updated August 19 at 11:22 a.m.

Good news in Ducks land as Jonas Hiller, who has been training on and off the ice the past month in his native Switzerland, reports he is symptom-free and ready for training camp.

Said Hiller: "I'm very excited about the upcoming season. I'm happy to be feeling better and looking forward to getting back with my teammates. It’s been a long process, but I feel great and I’m ready to help this team win."

The Ducks open training camp on Saturday, Sept. 17 at THE RINKS - Anaheim ICE.

Hiller is speaking to assorted media on a conference call this afternoon, and we'll have his comments soon afterward.

Updated August 15 at 9:35 a.m.

No sport has had its rules tweaked over the last decade like NHL hockey has, and next week the league will experiment with the possibility of making even more changes to the game.

Starting Wednesday in Etobicoke, Ont., the NHL will gather executives and prospective 2012 draftees over two days for another Research, Development and Orientation Camp to experiment with potential rules changes. The 36 top prospects will act as test pilots for the rules changes by being put through scrimmages, while league and team execs will keep an eye on how they affect the game.

Close to two dozen changes are being analyzed, some of which are minor modifications to the game, while others are more radical.

Here are a few of the more intriguing adjustments being tested:

Removing the Trapezoid Behind the Net
The addition of a zone behind the net where goalies were forbidden from playing the puck was one of a number of major rules changes that came out of the 2004-05 lockout. The purpose of the rule was to keep goalies from being able to clear pucks out of the corner, thus increasing the opponent’s offensive zone time and boosting scoring. What it’s actually done is hindered the goalie’s ability to be a sixth man on the ice by assisting in the transition game and make quick breakouts to get the puck going the other way. (A great puck handler like Marty Turco has been handcuffed a bit by this rule.) 

The practicality of the trapezoid is a subject that has been brought up plenty in the recent past, and it wouldn’t be surprising if it finally is eliminated.

“Hybrid” Icing
The race between two opposing players for an iced puck can be one of the more gripping moments in a hockey game – it’s also one of the more dangerous. Players are highly susceptible to injury when one or both of them slams into the end boards in the chase to touch up the puck, which is why international rules dictate that the whistle blows for icing as soon as the puck crosses the extended goal line (also known as “no-touch icing”).

The NHL is looking into a hybrid of those two rules, in which the linesman determines whether to whistle the play dead for icing based on which player reaches the faceoff dot first. If the defending player gets there first, the whistle is blown, but if the attacking player gets there first, icing is waved off. 

I would like to see this rule put into place, or even take it a step further and implement no-touch icing. The race for the puck is much too dangerous, especially since the offensive player touches the puck first so rarely anyway.

No Icing Permitted While Shorthanded
This is a tweak that was brought up with the sweeping rules changes during the lockout and never implemented. Why should a team that’s committed a penalty be allowed to ice the puck while trying to kill it? Prohibiting the penalty killers from icing the puck would make minors more, well, penalizing, and increase scoring. It would also (theoretically) make players even more reluctant to commit the hooks, holds, trips and other infractions that put their team a man down.

Another potential plus is that forcing teams to carry the puck out of the zone or dump it into the neutral zone might increase shorthanded scoring chances.

Of course there is also the argument that despite the rule, PKers would go ahead and ice the puck anyway to get that extra breather between the whistle and the ensuing faceoff. And nobody wants to see more stoppages in play.

Delayed Penalty Variation
As it stands, the whistle isn’t blown for a penalty until the penalized team gains possession of the puck. This change would require the penalized team to not just possess the puck, but to clear it out of its own zone to get the play blown dead. This would also penalize infractions more, giving a team more time to send its goalie to the bench for an extra attacker – in essence turning a potential two-minute man advantage into a much longer one.

Overtime Variation
Some dislike the shootout because they see it as deciding a hockey game with a skills competition. Others love it as a fan-friendly alternative to letting regular season games end in a tie. One proposed change would have games decided by a shootout much less frequently.

The current five minutes of 4-on-4 overtime would be changed to four minutes of 4-on-4 followed by three minutes of 3-on-3. If the game is still tied, the game goes to a shootout. (There are also talks about making the shootout include five shooters, rather than the current three.)

While 3-on-3 only slightly resembles a real hockey game more than the shootout (it’s really more pond hockey than NHL), any move to increase the likelihood of a game being decided in overtime is admirable.

Penalizing Offside
The NHL currently punishes icing by not allowing a team to make a substitution during the stoppage in play, and the league is experimenting with doing the same for an offside. They are also toying with bringing the faceoff back to the offending team’s end following an offside (currently the faceoff occurs just outside the blue line). The intent is to make players more cautious of crossing the blue line too soon, thus theoretically reducing the dreaded stoppages.

The concern is that by doing so, you reduce the chances of teams trying to attack the zone through passing and puck carrying and increase the likelihood of the dump and chase, which is less fan-friendly. Certainly we would all rather see players shuttle the puck to one another on the attack rather than hoisting it into the corner and going after it.

Other modifications being tested at the camp include adding wireless communication between referees, adding overhead cameras and in-net cameras to assist in replay reviews on goals and adding curved glass around the bench areas to protect players who get run into the wall (this one is probably going to be implemented). 

It will be interesting to see what changes, if any, the league comes away with from this camp. But what do you think? Which of these rules changes do you like? Which don't you like? Let us know on Facebook.

Updated August 9 at 12:41 p.m.

This post originally ran in 2008, but it's been tweaked to reflect present day:

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 RPG line in Anaheim. Let’s face it: There probably are no Anaheim Ducks.

Today marks the 23rd 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. 

That earth-shaking trade -- unquestionably the biggest in NHL history and up there with Ruth-to-the-Red-Sox in sports history -- was documented in the first ESPN 30 for 30 feature, an excellent piece called "Kings Ransom" (check out an excerpt here).

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 said in an NHL.com story in 2008 that 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 the impact the Gretzky made on hockey (and sports overall) in Southern California, you could safely argue there is no NHL team in Anaheim. Beyond that, there might not be any team in San Jose. There might not be a team in Phoenix (where Gretzky spent four seasons as 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, just after the Ducks became the first California team to win the Stanley Cup, 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, and his record of success in Anaheim and on the Olympic level is well-documented.

In the 2010 draft, the Ducks took Long Beach native Emerson Etem with the 29th overall pick, nine slots after the Penguins took Beau Bennett of Gardena. They were the first two Californians to be selected in the opening round in the draft's history. Last June, Matthew Nieto of Long Beach (second round by the Sharks), Rocco Grimoldi of Rossmoor (second round by Panthers), and Shane McColgan of Manhattan Beach (fifth round by the Rangers) were selected.

"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 former 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 August 8 at 12:14 p.m.

For a team that has five playoff appearances in the in the last six years, has won a Stanley Cup, and is coming off a fourth-place finish in the ultra-competitive West (despite not having its No. 1 goalie for the last three months), locking up the coach who led them there was paramount.

This morning the Ducks confirmed a new three-year deal for Randy Carlyle, in which the terms of this coming season were revised and two more years were added to the contract.

No Ducks coach has won more games than Carlyle’s 266, nor had a better winning percentage than his .599. Only one coach in the NHL – Detroit’s Mike Babcock – has won more playoff games than Carlyle’s 36 since 2005-06.

Listen to Carlyle on SiriusXM

It’s a testament to the stability of the team and the guy at the helm that the Ducks went 15-5-0 over the last 20 games last year to spring into fourth and the postseason. Granted, we all would have liked that postseason to go a little differently, but that’s playoff hockey. The Ducks now have most of that core group coming back (more on one guy in that group later), the addition of some key parts, and now the coach secured beyond this coming season. And deservedly so.

Said Bob Murray on the phone with reporters this morning, "He's a good coach. We're always competitive and he finds a way to make the team win. His record speaks for itself."

On that call, the conversation topic inevitably turned to pressing issues, namely the status of Teemu Selanne, especially in light of a dubious report from a Finnish newspaper that said Selanne wouldn’t decide on his status for next season until September. Murray said he talked to Selanne three days ago, who admittedly is struggling with the left knee surgery he had in June. “He had been struggling a bit. I think he was getting depressed about the whole thing,” Murray said. “Finally last week, he had a few days where it wasn’t bugging him. He intends to go pretty hard this week with the bigger boys who are there in Helsinki. We are scheduled to speak after this week is over.”

When asked if he had a deadline for Selanne’s decision, Murray replied, “I want him healthy. I've got no timetable on him whatsoever."

There wasn’t much new from Murray on the status of Jonas Hiller, though he did say, “"He feels good about himself. I think Jonas is in a good place."

Hiller’s health will hopefully reveal itself in training camp next month, one of the more intriguing storylines along with the competition among forwards for spots on the third and fourth lines. The center spot on the third unit was solidified with last month’s signing of former Oiler Andrew Cogliano. But the competition for winger slots on the bottom six should be very interesting with the likes of Brandon McMillan, Matt Beleskey, George Parros, Dan Sexton, Kyle Palmieri, Nick Bonino, new signees Mark Bell and Andrew Gordon, and 2010 draftees Emerson Etem and Devante Smith-Pelly battling.

Both Etem and Smith-Pelly had very good years in juniors, and Smith-Pelly has made even more of a case for his promising future recently in Team Canada’s junior team summer development camp. The big, strong 19-year-old drew plenty of notice in the camp’s Red-White scrimmage over the weekend, delivering at least four big hits, scoring a goal and setting up another (check out the video). From the Edmonton Journal:

…big Devante Smith-Pelly, who played with equal parts commotion and emotion, was the revelation. He played the first 40 minutes with [Oilers No. 1 pick Ryan] Nugent-Hopkins and Jaden Schwartz (the possible captain of Canada’s world junior team) and hit everything in sight, scored on a dandy roof job and set up Quinton Howden with a power-play goal.

“Best player on the ice,” said coach Don Hay. “Physically, he went after people ... he was a force and you knew he was on the ice every shift.”

And this may be the best compliment of all: By game’s end, nobody in the red jerseys much liked him, a sign of begrudging respect.

“That’s my job, getting under guys’ skin. If I’m going to make this team, that’s what I have to do,” said Smith-Pelly. “I thought I had a pretty good game and, hopefully, I impressed enough, although December (the final evaluation camp) is still a long ways away. I don’t think I’m going to be a top-six forward on this team, but if I want to play, I have to do it this way.”

Smith-Pelly did some impressive things in last year’s Ducks training camp – just a few months after being taken by the Ducks in the second round – and he’ll be in this one even bigger, even stronger and with a solid year of juniors and Memorial Cup play under his belt. He’ll be fun to watch.

Updated July 12 at 2:12 p.m.

While the Ducks have been relatively quiet so far this offseason, the past few days have seen some moves that impact the team's 2011-12 season.

One of the latest was the trade this morning in which the Ducks shipped a second round draft pick in 2013 to Edmonton for center Andrew Cogliano. The 24-year-old Cogliano addresses Bob Murray's aim to bolster the Ducks' third forward line, as he brings speed, some scoring (11 goals and 35 points last year) and the ability to spend some time on the penalty kill. "Last year, he was a penalty killer and a checker," Murray said. "He prided himself on that and did a pretty good job. He’s very versatile and we like that here. We’re hoping he is a good fit and gets comfortable very quickly here. You never know if it’s going to happen. Sometimes guys don’t want a change of address, but need a change of address. This may be a really good case for that."

A couple interesting notes on Cogliano: In March of 2008, he set an NHL record by scoring overtime goals in three consecutive games (against Columbus, Chicago and St. Louis). Also that season, he won the "Fastest Skater" competition during the SuperSkills event at the NHL All-Star Game, posting a time of 14.31 seconds.

Cogliano was the 25th overall pick by Edmonton in the 2005 draft and is sixth in career scoring among players in that draft class. (Not bad when you consider the top 3 are Sidney Crosby, Bobby Ryan and Anze Kopitar). He was brought up to Edmonton not long after that draft, debuting during the 2007-08 season. He hasn't missed a game in four seasons since then, and was fifth in scoring and assists for the Oilers last season.

"Unfortunately for him, he was in Edmonton at the time when they were at the bottom trying to work back up and it was a bit of a rough go," Murray said. "He has a fresh start here."

First thing's first, the Ducks have to sign him, as Cogliano is a restricted free agent with an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 21.

The Ducks were able to avoid a pending arbitration case with Dan Sexton, "bringing Sexy back" with a two-year deal. Sexton is on a two-way contract in the first year, meaning he won't have to pass through waivers if the Ducks needed to reassign him to Syracuse. The second year of his contract is a one-way. "It's definitely a big weight off my shoulders to know where you're definitely going to be next year instead of just having a good idea," Sexton said. "I ended up being very happy with what I got."

The Ducks made another Ducks depth move, one that had been talked about over the weekend but didn't become official until today, in the signing of goalie Jeff Deslauriers to a two-year deal. The 27-year-old Deslauriers, another former Oiler, played the entire 2010-11 season in Oklahoma City of the AHL, but got significant time with the Oil two seasons ago.

“It is a fresh start for me,” he told the OC Register. ”It’s a new beginning, for sure. There’s no question about it. Last year was a new situation, a tough situation. I won’t lie about that. Hockey is hockey. Hockey is a business. It was what it was.

“Even if it was a tough year, you learn from it. It was rough at the start but I had a chance to go to the Spengler Cup and I got my game back. I got the feel for playing hockey again and being hungry. It was a good thing and I was on my game when I came back.”

Deslauriers is being brought to Anaheim to add some stability to Anaheim's goalie depth, as Jonas Hiller continues to try and climb back from his health issues.

"We feel comfortable now if there are problems with Jonas, we can get through the beginning until we have to do what we have to do," Murray said. "We’re hoping that never happens. If all goes well and Jonas is good from the beginning, we are really strong in goal."

Murray was inevitably asked about the status of Teemu Selanne on the call, and said the Flash sounded optimistic after having arthroscopic surgery on June 29 in Finland. "I talked to Teemu yesterday," Murray said. "His kids are in a camp and he is out there skating with them he says. We said we’ll talk next week like we always planned. He said he feels good."

Updated July 1 at 10:49 a.m.

Todd Marchant's retirement announcement was offseason Ducks news that didn't come as a surprise, but that doesn't mean it wasn't still a little jarring. Marchant, a veteran of 18 years in the NHL, spent the last six as an important member of the Ducks, and was a major part of that 2007 Stanley Cup championship team. 

But as Marchant said Wednesday, “I felt as though it was time. I was able to retire on my own terms. When you’re not capable of playing at the level that you’re used to playing at, it’s time to move on.”

When a player leaves your team -- or leaves the game altogether -- you inevitably flash back to your most poignant memories of that man. Marchant had an overtime game-winner in a thrilling 2009 playoffs series against Detroit, but when you think of snapshots of his time with the Ducks, it's the little things that stand out more. You think of the red-bearded Marchant lifting that Stanley Cup over his head. You think of the tireless work he did on the penalty kill -- sacrificing his body, always making the right decision, creating shorthanded chances, winning key faceoffs. You think of the guy who was always one of the smartest men in the room, a guy writers flocked to because he was always good for a quote.

You think of the t-shirts he had printed during that magical '07 run, new ones for each round that had a word added every time the Ducks advanced. By the end, they said, "Destiny is Heart, Sacrifice and Passion." And while those words were meant to describe Anaheim's run to glory, they also typified Marchant's contribution to this team.

He wasn't a 30-goal scorer, wasn't an All-Star and rarely showed up on SportsCenter. But you don't win championships without guys like Todd Marchant in your locker room, guys who make the most of their natural ability, guys who overcome physical shortcomings (he was listed at a generous 5-10, 180 pounds).

It's for that and so much more that we won't soon forget Marchant and what he meant to this organization. Thankfully, he'll still be around, filling a newly created position of Director of Player Development. On Wednesday he talked to a handful of media while in the middle of a long family road trip, something he'll have a lot more time for now that he's hung up his skates. Somebody asked him what he'd like he legacy to be after playing this game for so long.

I’d like to be remembered as a good teammate, both on and off the ice, and a guy that worked hard every single night no matter what," he said. "Every shift. That’s something that I prided myself on. I’m not the biggest guy, I’m not the strongest guy. If you go out and you work hard and you give it everything you got, no matter how tired you are, how sore you are, travel, whatever it is, no one can ever take that away from you."

And that's absolutely what we'll remember.

- - -
It's the start of NHL free agency today, and the Ducks have been pretty quiet so far. Said Murray to the OC Register yesterday, “I think we’ll check a few things out. There’s a few parts out there that could be OK for that role. I’ve got to see what money I can get and (other) things. We’re not going to blow our brains out, that’s for sure.” Murray has already indicated he will not not offer contracts to Jarkko Ruutu, Brad Winchester, Andreas Lilja and Ray Emery (all of whom were picked up midway through the 2010-11 season).

One free agent the Ducks would like to re-sign, Teemu Selanne, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Wednesday, as reported on (of all places) MTV3.fi in his native Finland. Murray called it an "exploratory" procedure and told the OC Register, "Until we know more, we shouldn’t speculate.

"I think Teemu wants to play and I think he’s trying to make sure that before he decides to play that everything’s going to be OK,” Murray said. ”I think he’s taking all the steps to make sure everything is OK. He has every right to do that, by the way.”

Selanne turns 41 on Sunday, by the way.

Updated June 28 at 10:56 a.m.

The Corey Hart -- or rather, Corey Wins the Hart -- victory tour rolled on yesterday evening with a trip across the street from Perry's office in Anaheim. The newly crowned MVP threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, just before the Halos took on the visiting Washington Nationals in front of a good crowd at The Big A.

Perry arrived at the stadium a couple hours early to watch batting practice, do a pregame interview and take in the sites before his scheduled 6:54 p.m. first pitch. Below is a recap (also check out the photo gallery, with a full video feature on all of Perry's Hart-related adventures coming in a few days):

4:50 p.m. -- Perry arrives at the designated meeting spot, under the giant helmets outside the home plate side of Angel Stadium, sporting jeans, a navy t-shirt and the seedlings of a blonde goatee. He's joined by teammate Matt Beleskey, a noted baseball fan who grew up rooting for the Toronto Blue Jays.

5:10 p.m. -- Perry and the rest of our group are led onto the field to watch batting practice (a very cool thing to be able to do, by the way). Perry appears fascinated watching BP from just in front of the Angels dugout, craning his neck to see a couple of balls go soaring over the left field wall. Eventually he and Beleskey are led to just behind the batting cage by Angels VP of Communications Tim Mead, where they have a meet and greet with Angels manager Mike Scioscia (a reputed hockey fan).

6:00 p.m. -- It's time for Perry to head over for an interview on the Angels pregame show with host Lindsay Soto, so we head up the foul line towards the gate in the leftfield wall. As he walks, Perry is torn between acknowleding the hundreds of fans leaning against the wall to call his name and ask for an autograph and looking over his right shoulder to make sure he doesn't get beheaded by a line drive. The latter appears to be a major concern for both him and Beleskey (heck, our whole group).

6:05 p.m. -- We're led through a series of restricted-area tunnels, hallways, ramps and stairs before ultimately ending up in ... the not-so-restricted 200 level concourse. We walk past a number of fans who acknowledge Perry as we head out toward the rocks high above the centerfield wall. That's where the Angels pregame show sets up camp. Soto, sitting behind the desk, and the rest of the crew are not quite ready for Perry, giving him time to look out and gaze back toward the stadium, which provided this cool photo at left. 

6:15 p.m. -- Perry's chat with Soto is approximately his 847th interview since winning the Hart, and a gathering of fans (some wearing both Ducks and Angels attire simultaneously) lean over the railing to watch and hopefully catch part of what his soft voice is saying. After he's finished, those fans converge on Perry for autographs and photos, which he politely consents to as we head back toward the field.

6:30 p.m. -- Perry and our group are led through the Angels dugout, down the stairs and into the room with the batting cage, where Perry warms up for his first pitch duties. He shows a decent right arm as he plays a quiet game of catch. Beleskey later mentions that he wished we could have checked out the Angels clubhouse, but it's so close to gametime, it's not in the cards. I've actually seen it before (though it was years ago), so Beleskey asks me, "How is it? Bigger than ours?" (Love how a 23-year-old professional athlete is dying to see what another team's locker room looks like.)

6:45 p.m. -- Perry heads back up to the field level, where he is handed the official first pitch baseball, which he subconsciously tosses up and down with his right hand as he chats with Beleskey and another friend near the backstop behind home plate while waiting for his cue.

6:51 p.m. -- Perry meets Angels pitcher Jered Weaver (who will be his catcher for the first pitch) in the dugout. Weaver later provides Perry with an autographed glove that reads, "Corey - Congrats on MVP. Continued success!" (a very cool gesture).

6:54 p.m. -- Perry is introduced by PA announcer David Courtney (who ironically is also the Kings PA guy) and gets a great ovation as he quietly and nervously mutters "Wish me luck" before heading out to the mound. He fires a -- we'll call it a high strike -- to Weaver, then gets a handshake from the lanky hurler and the baseball to keep.

6:56 p.m. -- Perry and the rest of our group head back into the dugout, where Perry and Beleskey remain for a few minutes. And even though my co-workers have headed down into the tunnel again, I find myself lingering in the dugout with the two of them. It's then I realize I'm standing five feet away from Scioscia -- who's in his typical mid-game spot in the dugout with about five minutes until first pitch -- that I recognize that I'm probably in the wrong place. (Scioscia, to his credit, never says anything -- yet another example of how baseball is so different from hockey.) 

7:05 p.m. -- Our group heads up to a suite to watch the game, where Perry and Beleskey quickly head out to the concourse to get something to eat. Beleskey is doing his own thing as Perry waits in a concession stand line with other fans to get them both hot dogs and chips. (Probably one of the few times Perry's been alone since he lifted the Hart.)

7:25 p.m. -- Perry heads up to the Angels TV booth to do an interview in the top of the 2nd inning with announcers Victor Rojas and Mark Gubicza (here's video of that interview, which also includes footage of the pitch). Rojas is a personable guy who turns to see our camera crew and jokingly complains that he hasn't put any makeup on.

7:30 -- Back to the suite, where Perry and Beleskey watch the game, later moving to agent Scott Boras' suite on field level just behind home plate (you can see it when you watch the game on TV). It ends up being a riveting Angels win in which they blow a one-run lead in the ninth but then win it on a Maicer Izturis single in the bottom of the 10th. By that time, Perry's headed home to Newport Beach, where in a few hours he'll leave for his summer house in Ontario, Canada, and put this whirlwind week behind him for some well-deserved rest relaxation. Goodness knows he's earned it. After all, he's the MVP (just feels good to write that one more time).

"It's been a craazy couple of days," Perry told the Angels announcers when asked if it's all sunk in. "But I'm finally starting to feel it."

Updated June 24 at 12:54 p.m.

As the NHL packs three of its biggest offseason happenings (Awards, schedule release, draft) into a span of four days -- and with the buzz of Corey Perry's Hart Trophy not quite worn off -- it's been difficult to move on to everything else that's going on this week.

But in the next few hours, the Ducks will be looking to build for the future (and if it's anything like last year, the near future) at the NHL Entry Draft in Minnesota. Anaheim selects 22nd in the first round, which will begin at 4 p.m. PT this evening. With the Ducks picking 10 spots below where they were last year and only having one first rounder (they also had the 29th selection last year), it will be hard to replicate the magic that brought them both Cam Fowler and Emerson Etem last year in Los Angeles. And the chances of moving up in the draft order is a tall task, accoring to Ducks Director of Amateur Scouting Martin Madden.

"As of now, I have not been told that we are anywhere close to being able to select in the top 10," Madden told the OC Register. "But the one thing that I know is that every year there's one or two teams that find a way to move up in the draft. Maybe it's not the top 10 but maybe the top 15 when there is one particular player that slips a little bit and you feel strong enough that you can take an extra asset and move up."

The Ducks have five selections overall, and Madden said they aren't looking to address a specific need with that first one, but hope to take the best player available. "You can tell who's going to go in the first round," he said. "There's fewer mistakes in the first round than ever. You need to do well in rounds two through seven and find players in there to add depth to your organization. Those are the kids you need to find."

Coverage of the draft will include a live streaming pre-draft show starting at 3 p.m., and the first round airs on Versus at 4 p.m. If you can't get in front of the TV then, we'll be providing coverage of the Ducks pick here on the website, and an audio-only broadcast of will also be available. You can check it all out from our Draft Central page, which has links to plenty of content -- including three NHL.com mock drafts that have the Ducks picking three different guys at No. 22.

Whether that first round pick -- like Fowler last year -- makes the roster next season is obviously up in the air, but the rest of the Ducks found out where and when they will be playing when the 2011-12 schedule was released yesterday. As we already knew, the Ducks open the season in Helsinki, Finland, against the Sabres on Friday, Oct. 7, and then play the Rangers in Stockholm, Sweden the next night.

They come back to the States for their home opener on October 14 against the Sharks, the start of a stretch that sees the Ducks play four homes games in their next five. The only road game in that bunch is up in San Jose, and here's hoping that travel-friendly stretch helps the Ducks start the season better than they have in the past few seasons. There's also hope the Ducks might have the kind of strong finish that has benefitted them plenty in recent seasons, as they play eight home games in that important month of March, including a six-of-seven stretch. That will help, as the final three regular season games (April 3, 5 and 7) are all on the road.  

And some more good news: The Ducks will play 12 sets of back-to-back games this season, three fewer than last year and five fewer than 2009-10.

This year the Ducks play nine Friday home games, two Saturday home games and 12 Sunday home games. Among those are a rare home back-to-back on January 21 and 22 against the Sens and Avs. And as in the past few seasons, Anaheim will again host the Blackhawks on the day after Thanksgiving, which is Friday, November 25. Meanwhile, for the third time in the past four seasons, they play on New Year's Eve, against the Avs (game starts at 5:05 p.m., giving you ample time to start your NYE partying.)

For those of you who look forward to Ducks-Kings matchups, Anaheim faces LA at Honda Center on Thurs., Nov. 17, Tues., Dec. 6 and Fri., Mar. 16.

The biggest negative of the 2011-12 schedule? We have to wait 3 1/2 months to get it started.

- - -

We're all back from Vegas, but that doesn't mean the good feelings from Corey Perry's Hart victory have worn off. Perry did a whirlwind media tour yesterday that included radio interviews and appearances on ESPN SportsCenter broadcast from LA. (The day was documented by Jeff Miller in today's OC Register.) Here's a listen at the interview Perry did on The Sports Lodge on AM 830, in which the reticent Perry said the only thing that went through his mind when his name was called was, "What I'm going to say ... I knew what I wanted to say, but I didn't want it to sound like it was rehearsed. It was short and sweet, but hopefully it came out the right way."

And of the entourage of about 35 family, friends and teammates that accompanied him on the night, Perry said, "They've all had a part in what's happened in my career and to be able to share it with them was pretty special."

Our video guys documented Perry's time at the Awards, with plenty of behind-the-scenes stuff, and we'll have a package put together on the website in the coming days. 

If you've missed anything, there are a ton of NHL Awards videos involving Perry you can check out here, was well as some interviews with Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan and the popular Getzlaf-Ryan sketch that aired during the Awards telecast.

Updated June 22 at 6:46 p.m.


What a feeling it was when presenter Jennifer Beals said the words "Corey Perry" when announcing the Hart Trophy winner during the NHL Awards telecast. I just remember feeling a rush of elation, followed by a little misty-eyed moment when Perry got choked up during his short acceptance speech as he thanked teammates and family, then showed his mom tearing up in the audience. (I'm watching it on replay again and getting the same feeling all over again.) He got out of there quickly with this: "We're gonna have fun tonight."

We sure are.

Thank you to everyone who took part in my live chat during the awards. If you missed it, check out the transcript here.

Let's say it one more time: COREY PERRY IS THE HART TROPHY WINNER!!

Updated June 22 at 9:48 a.m.

At 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, four Ducks staffers and I were packing up two cars in a parking lot in Anaheim.

Twelve hours later, we were watching Corey Perry get pulled on stage by the Blue Man Group, where he was made to put on a painter's suit, taken backstage, painted blue and revealed back on stage emerging from a jello mold.

Vegas, baby ... Vegas.

It was all in the name of tonight's NHL Awards at The Palms in Vegas, where Perry is a finalist for the Hart Trophy.

To get there required a four-hour drive through the desert, in which I rode with Ducks in-house talent Kent French on a trip that included his Twitter followers growing from 5 to more than 300 in a matter of minutes, a failed rollercoaster pitstop and a relatively smooth ride that made us wish every drive to Vegas was like a Tuesday morning drive to Vegas. Follow it all here.

Once arriving in Vegas, the first order of business was attending NHL Awards media availability, where each of the award finalists spent time talking to crowds of reporters in a larger conference room while seated on risers. Perry talked about his Hart nomination and his incredible 2010-11 season ("I don't know if it's really hit me") while a few feet away, fellow finalist Martin St. Louis admitted that Perry was his pick to win the award.

A few hours later, we whisked Perry to the Venetian for the 7:00 Blue Man Group show, where in the latter part of the show he was dragged up on stage wearing his familiar No. 10 Ducks jersey. The show, as usual, did not disappoint, and for Perry's segment, they ... well, it's best to check out the photos and the video.

Perry was joined before and after the show by a host of friends and family, including his parents, grandmother and brother AJ (real name Adam) who looks almost exactly like Corey.

All of them will be in attendance tonight to see if Perry takes home the Hart hardware and watch him accept the Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals. The NHL Awards starts at 4 p.m. Pacific on Versus, but our coverage will start with the red carpet arrivals at 2:30 p.m., where we will tweet some photos and other observations on the Ducks Twitter page. (Among the "only at the NHL Awards in Vegas" sites yesterday: Either Henrik or Daniel Sedin (not sure which), pushing a stroller down a hallway at The Palms.)

Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf have also arrived in town this morning to support Perry and present their new video sketch at the Awards. We'll try to tweet some photos as those guys shoot a couple of spots with our video guys this afternoon.

Just before the Awards, and thoughout the show, I'll be doing a live blog/fan chat that will start at around 3:45 PT, so please join me for that.

Updated June 16 at 1:04 p.m.

It wasn't the epic Game 7 we might have hoped for -- with the Bruins virtually putting the game away early -- but as usually happens in a Stanley Cup playoff series, the team that deserved to win won. Boston completely dominated the games it won, outscoring Vancouver 21-3 and continued that with a 4-0 romp in the deciding match. Vancouver, which led the NHL in scoring throughout the season, only managed eight goals the entire series.

So, a well-deserved Cup for Boston and a well-deserved Conn Smythe for goalie and likeable guy Tim Thomas, who was incredible throughout the series while counterpart Roberto Luongo struggled.

And with the depressing reality that we have no more hockey games for the next few months, there still is some hockey in the coming days. We have the NHL Awards on Wednesday night, something we'll be covering with tweets, photos, video and more (be ready for a special treat from Tuesday night). I'll be blogging as well and conducting a live chat with fans during the NHL Awards, starting just before the show gets underway at 4 p.m. PT.

A couple days later, the NHL Entry Draft will be held Friday and Saturday in Minneapolis, and we'll have full coverage of that.

More details to come...

Updated June 15 at 12:58 p.m.

We're in for a treat tonight, since there is nothing better in sports than Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final.

(Except for maybe Kiss Cam. I really like Kiss Cam.)

The Canucks and Bruins will lay it all on the line tonight in what promises to be a tense and physical deciding game at Vancouver's Rogers Arena. Vancouver earned a Game 7 in its own rink by virtue of having the league's best record, and it's a building in which they've looked like potential Stanley Cup champs -- grinding out one-goal victories in Games 1, 2 and 5. It's been in Boston that the Bruins have looked like world-beaters, outscoring the Canucks 17-3, including a decisive 5-2 victory two nights ago in Game 6.

Roberto Luongo was chased from that game for the second time in this series after giving up three straight goals. He's let in 15 in a little more than four periods, but at home he's stopped 95 of 97 shots. He'll be the starter tonight, but will he be the finisher? In the other net, Tim Thomas has been fantastic in both victory and defeat, giving up just eight goals in six games. Regardless of the outcome tonight, he's bound to win the Conn Smythe. (The last Conn Smythe winner from a losing side was, of course, J.S. Giguere in 2003.)

Thomas is a feel-good story who didn't even make it to the NHL until he was 28, and developed himself into an All-Star and U.S. Olympian. He had this to say:   “When we’re in the garage or driveway playing as a kid and you’re fantasizing … you’re saying to yourself, ‘Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.’ So this is really what every kid dreams about.”

If you saw on TV the seemingly endless throng of Canucks fans crowding into the streets of Vancouver during Game 6 in Boston, you can only imagine what a scene it will be in that city tonight with the Cup in the house. And that's not even in the arena, where the average ticket price is reportedly CLOSE TO $3,000.  (They're expecting a to-do Boston tonight as well, if the Bruins pull this off.)

Both teams have gone awhile without a championship: Vancouver has never won a Cup in its 40-year history (making the Final for the last time in 1994), and Boston hasn't won it since 1972. (Meanwhile, all three other Boston-based major professional teams have each won at least one title since 2004.)

No team from Canada has won the Cup since Montreal took down the Kings in 1993, but it's a myth that Canadians will rejoice over a Canucks victory tonight. It's not that Toronto or Montreal or Edmonton or Calgary or Ottawa fans want a Canadian team to win the Cup; they want their team to win the Cup.

The home team has won every game of this series (the last time that happened over a seven-game Final was Mighty Ducks-Devils in '03), and home teams are 12-3 all time in Stanley Cup Final Game 7s. (The last time there was a Game 7 in the Final, Pittsburgh won in Detroit in 2009.)

The Bruins, meanwhile, have won three of the last four games in this series.

“Everything in the past is in the past,” Vancouver center Ryan Kesler said yesterday. “If we win tomorrow, we become legends.”

But who are we pulling for tonight? I was leaning toward Vancouver when this series began, but the way Boston has dominated the games they've won, I feel like they're more deserving of being crowned champs. What about you, readers? Who do you want to see win tonight?

When it's all over tonight, we'll watch either the Canucks or the Bruins hold that Cup over their heads and skate it around the rink. And even though it's not our team doing it this year, we'll find some happiness for those players and their fans. We'll inevitably flash back to this night and remember when it was our team of thick-bearded warriors passing that Cup between them, when we felt that unbridled ecstasy that only those who have seen their teams win a championship can relate to.

Eventually, we'll turn off the TV and realize, somewhat depressingly, that there's no more hockey to be played for the next couple of months. Then can we truly focus on what our team has in store for it -- to give us that championship feeling one more time.

- - -
As was mentioned before in this space, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan shot a sequel to their very popular Olympic-themed sketch from last year.The new one will again air during the NHL Awards, held June 22 in Las Vegas (and shown live on Versus starting at 4 p.m. PT).

Here are some behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot and a short video below:

Updated June 13 at 1:48 p.m.

Among the opportunities for Ducks season ticket holders at the annual Select-A-Seat event -- in addition to picking their spots for next season -- is the opportunity to take part in an open forum with the team's GM. And so it went last Saturday at Honda Center, as Ducks boss Bob Murray sat on a stage in front of waves of different groups of season ticket holders to answer questions about the status of the team.

First and foremost on most fans' minds are the futures of two very important Ducks -- Teemu Selanne and Jonas Hiller.  Murray's report on Hiller remained uncertain for the Swiss goalie who missed most  of the last three months with vertigo-related health problems. Murray said he talked last week to Hiller, who is staying in his native Switzerland for the time being.

"He feels good, and he’s been feeling really good for a long time," Murray said. "On the ice he hasn’t felt comfortable, picking up the puck when it come from one side of the other, from the corner of the rink to the front of the net. That’s a problem he had going down the stretch."

According to Murray, Hiller's confidence is a major factor in his hopeful climb back to the level that made him an All-Star for the first time last year "It’s the toughest position in all of sports," Murray said. "He had a little bit of  a confidence thing where he thought Ray and Dan gave us a better chance to win than he did ... Confidence is everything and until he  gets his confidence where he truly belives he’s seeing the puck, we’re not going to have any answers here. We’ve got to kind of wait and see how he is."

Hiller visited his own doctor, back in Switzerland, which Murray said was helpful. The doctor speaks German, one of the languages that Hiller speaks fluently. While Hiller's English is good, Murray made the point that hearing his diagnosis in German was comforting. "I’m serious," Murray said when the crowd reacted to that. "He felt better about it because that’s what he understands more. In English, he’s not that bad, but he feels better about himself because it was explained in German."

Murray hoped to hear something more definitive from Hiller by the middle of July, adding, "This isn’t just about the Anaheim Ducks organization and its fans. This is about your teammates, and he knows that. I’m sure he’ll let me know how he’s doing. We wanted to give him a long rest and we have."

Meanwhile, Murray said he had lunch with Selanne just last week and seemed hopeful at a possible return. "He was injury-free last year, had a really good year, likes the hockey team, likes playing with this group of guys," he said.

That being said, Murray indicated Selanne still remains undecided, but he is encouraged that the Ducks will open the season in Helsinki next year and likely play in Winnipeg (with the presumed move of the Atlanta Thrashers to the city where Selanne started his NHL career). However, Murray warned that Selanne is dealing with "a little knee issue that he’s had for awhile" and that could factor into his decision.

Murray also said Paul Kariya joined him and Teemu for that lunch, but that Kariya remains unsure of his playing future after being forced to miss all last season with lingering concussion issues.

With free agency approaching on July 1 and the talks between teams bound to heat up, Murray stressed that building a reliable third line is a huge priority for Anaheim. "We’ve got lots of parts, but we haven’t had a third line in a long time," he said. "If we want to use Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf killing penalties and on the power play, then we can’t turn around and expect them to go out there on their regular shift. We have to get a third line that can play and eat up some minutes, and there are a few different ways to do it.  That will make us a solid hockey team."

Murray said he was satisfied with the Ducks finishing fourth in a very tough Western Conference, especially coming out of a division in which all five teams nearly made the postseason. But the way the Ducks bowed out in the playoffs left a bitter taste.

"I think our guys have come a long way. We’re younger and we’re on the upswing," he said. "I’m very pleased with how some of the younger players have come in and we’ve played very well. In saying that, I’m not happy with what happened in the playoffs and unhappy with the manner in which it was done.

"Because of the playoffs, certain players have to be addressed and held accountable for that. We’ll give them a little bit of a start this year, but some guys have to step up when the time is there, and we had some that didn’t. There will be an evaluation early next year on some of our people who we count on in those situations."

- - -

We will be holding a live chat between Cam Fowler and Ducks fans tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. PT. You can join the chat on this page when it starts (for now, you can have an reminder emailed to you). You are welcome to submit questions or just follow along with the chat, which will be the first of several we do with Ducks players this summer. I also hope to do a live fan chat during the NHL Awards, which I will be attending in Las Vegas next week.

Even if you miss any of the chats, an archive will be available so you can read them at your leisure.

Updated June 6, 2011

To commemorate a very special anniversary for Ducks fans and for me personally, I'm re-posting this piece (with a slight adjustment) that originally ran June 6, 2008:

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

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

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

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


Four years later, I can still remember it well. It really was unbelievable.

For a nice reminder of that night and all that led up to it, take a look at this: