Posts Tagged ‘National Hockey League’

Viktor Fasth represents the most serious challenge to Jonas Hiller since he showed management they could shed the salary of former Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe award winner J.S. Giguere.

Now it isn’t just Viktor Fasth that Hiller has to beat out. He also has to create a margin of such significance as to justify the $1.6m  difference in their salaries. The main reason Hiller has to excel is Ducks appear to have another quality backup in Frederick Anderson and a future star in John Gibson.

It’s a fascinating confluence of pressure points heightened by the fact Hillsy is entering his contract year.

Thus far in his NHL career Jonas has met every challenge from the mysterious and little understood vertigo to his 73 game iron man performance in 2011-12.

This year he’s challenged by his health, quality competition on our Ducks depth chart to a very thin market for goaltenders, despite the obvious need of many teams.

It is just as easy to imagine Hiller traded on or before the deadline or leaving as a UFA, as it is to imagining him taking on all comers and having a career year.

It isn’t wise to bet against a guy with such a track record of rising to and thriving on challenges. While this one is daunting, I still would bet against Jonas Hiller.

Just like Hiller proved and a wonky hip proved we could move on from Giggy; it’s up to Fasth, Anderson and Gibson to prove we can move on from Hiller.

This is the brutal part of the business of hockey. You come to appreciate and respect a guy, like most of us did Bobby Ryan, and there comes a time when the best interest of the team is arguably, to move on.

Note: This post was drafted and published after reading this at Pro Hockey Talk. Factual reporting errors aside, I just didn’t think the story gave Hillsy his due. Wasn’t going to link it but google alerts is hyping it.

Ducks dominated the first and faded in the second and third. You can credit Quick for stealing one. You can also blame our Ducks for failing to finish on numerous scoring opportunities. As usual the truth is a little bit of both but I lean toward the latter. One goal is just not enough to win most games.

Both goalies appear well adapted to the smaller nets.

Getzlaf went 12-8 on FO’s. Rakell finished 7-7 after starting the game 2-6. Bonino went a woeful 6-17; Winnick 3-5. Getz did benefit by having Flash on RW, who is quick to the puck on draws.

Penner had a couple-few good moments but was otherwise invisible out there. He might be miscast at LW. He had two great years stat wise in Edmonton, playing mostly center.

Ben Lovejoy earned a 3-year contract based on his performance in the shortened season. Tonight he looked like the guy the Penguins gave up on and with good reason. Kings isolated on him and took full advantage.

Cam Fowler had a couple of chances but seemed to shooting into Quick. He did this last season as well. Cam just isn’t finding the twine yet. Most natural goal scorers see net and hit the spot.

After building a 3-1 preseason record, our Ducks have lost 2 in a row and can only limp into the season with a mediocre 4-3 or 3-4 record. To paraphrase the Righteous Bros., our Ducks have lost that winning feeling, now it’s gone, gone, gone. They can earn it back but it’s uphill now.

 

If there’s anything to notions of reciprocity, karma or the colloquial what goes around, come around, Henry Samueli will one day enter the HHOF as a builder. On that day he’ll take a well-earned acknowledgment alongside such hockey legends, as Frederick Stanley, 16 Early of Derby, Conn Smythe, Bill Hewitt, Frank Calder, Frank J. Selke, Bruce Norris and others too numerous to list here.

The “prefers to work quietly behind the scenes” Ducks owner stepped out for a chat with OCR’s Eric Stephens.

“We’ll know this year for sure what the impact (CBA) is,” Samueli said in an interview with the OC Register. “We’re optimistic we’ll turn the corner and start heading in the other direction.”

Under the new CBA our Ducks qualify for revenue sharing. Their anticipated share could be north of $20m! Samueli could hardly be criticized if he pocketed Ducks revenue share to realize some ROI after years of near annual 8 figure losses.

Since acquiring our Ducks in 2005, Samueli has built a now 28 team high school hockey league. He is the driving force behind making hockey available to kids throughout Orange County and SoCal. His impact on youth hockey now exceeds that of Wayne Gretzky and perhaps the entire NHL. By winning the Stanley Cup with a California franchise, Samueli also accomplished what TGO didn’t.

His philanthropy is legendary. We mention some of it, to honor him by bringing attention to those causes he supports. The schools of engineering at UCLA and UC-Irvine are named for him after he made a cumulative $50m in “no-strings” donations. He provided the founding donation for the Sala and Aron Samueli Holocaust Memorial Library at Chapman University.

Along with bride Susan, the Samuelis established the Center for Integrative Medicine at UC-Irvine, Samueli Institute of Information Biology in Washinton, DC, contributed to the John Wayne Cancer Institute’s ground breaking research and treatment.

This blog’s support for Touch of Home is encouraged in part by our Ducks support for the military. I have also performed service pro bono for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) another activity supported by the Samuelis.

You can learn more of Henry and Susan Samueli’s philanthropy here.

This blog has and will, from time to time, disagree with some decisions made the Ducks.org. Have no doubt this blog will continue to call it as we see it in the future as well. None of our occasional criticism dims our overall appreciation and respect for one hockey’s all time great builders.

Note: I once or perhaps even a handful of times, editorialized that our Ducks support of various charitable organizations impressed me as insincere and a product of a self-serving marketing strategy. Obviously, I was very wrong.

Anaheim Ducks reduced the 2013 training camp roster from 60 to 53 players. While late night cuts are a brutal part of the business; teams announce cuts as soon as decisions are made so that players can begin to search for the next team asap. The roster now consists of 29 forwards, 19 D-men and 5 goaltenders.

They unlucky ones are, Via AnaheimDucks.com:

Assigned to junior team:

Kenton Helgesen – Defenseman (Calgary/WHL)

Released from amateur tryout:
Brent Andrews – Center
Kyle Becker – Defenseman
Austin Carroll – Right Wing
Ross Johnston – Left Wing
Ryan Horvat – Left Wing
Etienne Marcoux – Goaltender

 

Ducks have some interesting parts and pieces. Everybody makes tangible and intangible contributions. This post is about the latter. In this post we’ll identify some of those intangibles and pose the question; Can this Ducks team come together and realize it’s potential?

After a great short season, our Ducks entered the playoffs with great expectations that were quickly dashed by the Detroit Red Wings in a thrilling series. Consequently, Coach Boudreau has defined this campaign as “Unfinished Business.” It’s a great goal defining mantra designed to motivate the players both individually and collectively. Identifying Bruce Boudreau’s most impactful intangible is so easy. It’s his humanity.

To understand the humanity in Gabby take a look at how he honors 9/11.

Gabby’s personal unfinished business is playoff success and get the most from his own personal OT game.

You could have knocked me over with a feather as I read Francois Beauchemin will probably start the season just 4.5 months following reconstructive knee surgery. Beauch is the kind of man whose respect other men aspire to earn. This man played through serious injury to become included in the Norris Trophy conversation. A feat even more amazing when one considers Beauchemin isn’t unanimously considered a top pairing D-man. He’s also not thought of as a heart and soul player though his heart and soul is his greatest single intangible contribution to the team.

Ducks best players, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are just entering their prime. Getz having earned his way into the Hart Trophy nomination. Pears has already earned the MVP award.
Bob Murray, at the urging of the Ducks captain, has reunited The Twins with their Cup team line-mate, Dustin Penner. Pancake appears committed to get a career that seemed to waiver off track during his two seasons with the Kings. Will returning to Anaheim do for Penner what it did for Teemu Selanne?
What was once the Kid Line on our Ducks Cup team is now Top Line expected to lead the team back into the elite of the league.

There’s also a very impressive veteran contingent led by Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. They will be joined at mid-season by Sheldon Souray. The contributions made by this group reaches far beyond their combined stats. They lead by example and the shared wisdom accumulated through a combined half century of NHL experience.

Ducks have a couple-3 other vets, Andrew Cogliano, Daniel Winnick and Bryan Allen who play an accountable and responsible brand of hockey. Cogs is an NHL Iron Man who can play all three forward positions and in any situation. He is our Ducks Swiss army knife. Contributions of Winnick and Allen are best measured in the reluctance of opposing players to battle position or the biscuit.

The cherry may well be the youth contingent that is made up of 8 guys well positioned to take the loosely defined next step in their respective careers.
Cam Fowler, Nick Bonino, Jakub Silfverberg and Kyle Palmieri. All four are counted upon to make significant offensive contributions.
Level-headed and well grounded, Emerson Etem will continue to play ES and PK. He will have to start scoring to earn PP time.
Peter Holland, Patrick Maroon and Sami Vatanen will be given an opportunity to establish themselves as bonafide NHL players.
If there’s one guy who needs to play with desperation, it’s Luca Sbisa. Only 23, Luca has 5 NHL seasons and 236 regular season games behind him. In all that time he hasn’t established himself as much more than a 3rd pairing, spot played D-man. It wasn’t that long ago many of Bob Murray’s Kool-Aid drinkers were predicting Sbisa would make us forget Chris Pronger. He doesn’t need to be great but he does need to become consistently accountable and responsible.

The aforementioned 8 most represent the affirmation “Unfinished Business.” They bring the naivety, passion and energy of youth.

Vying for spot duty are role players Matt Beleskey, Mark Fistric, Devante Smith-Pelly and Brad Staubitz.

Backing the guys up is arguably the best goalie tandem in the NHL. Each of Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth have earned the trust and respect of their teammates. Having trust in your goaltenders is quite possibly the single most impactful intangible benefit.

Steve Whitney has been catching the eye of many bloggers early in camp. Speed is eye-catching and Whitney floats around the rink at mach speed. He isn’t likely to make the show this year. Conversely, Rickard Rakell has failed to make a positive impression anyone during the first half week.

These Ducks might well be a year or 3 away from finishing their unfinished business. They do have a broad range of complimentary skill sets on the roster. Additionally, they have depth to replace the various parts lost to retirement or diminished skills internally.

In this sense, these Ducks are organizationally structured similarly to our Cup winning team that prospered with 9 sophomores on the roster.

We may have even finally replaced Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer though it will have taken 5 D-men to do it. Fowler and Vatanen for Nieds and Souray, Beauchemin and Allen for Pronger.

The talent is there for these Ducks to push themselves into NHL elite status. The questions are; will it all come together? Will they remain healthy? Will they peak in the playoffs?

Sheldon Souray underwent wrist surgery on July 25th to repair a torn ligament he injured during a workout. His recovery is expected to last another 3-5 months. The earliest Souray is expected back would be around U.S Thanksgiving through post-Christmas.

Ducks kept the news under wraps so as not to be pressured during trades or UFA negotiations. GM Bob Murray’s recent comments that he was intentionally keeping D spots open may have also been a negotiating gambit.

Mark Fistric is a first round 2004 draft pick of the Dallas Stars. Last season he was traded to Edmonton for a 3rd round pick. The 6’2″ 233# 27-year-old Fistric has scored 3-26=29 points with a +26 rating and 252 penalty minutes (PIM) in 282 career NHL games with the Stars and Oilers.

Fistric will do what is asked of him. Drop gloves, block shots. He’ll earn respect from teammates. Fans will be hard on him because he’s slow and beat by speedy forwards. If he’s spot played, used in a shut down role against guys he can skate with; Mark Fistric can be very effective.

Fistric is signed for one year at $900,000.

Ducks are expected to move Souray’s $3.3M cap hit to the LTIR, a move will free up cap space temporarily. Now we know why Bob Murray was so emphatic about having enough cap room to sign Teemu.

With Beauchemin coming off knee surgery and tentative to open the season, Souray out and the expected retirement of Toni Lydman our Ducks suddenly have serious questions on the blue line.

Ducks could start the season without almost half of the top seven defenders who finished last season. Cam Fowler, Ben Lovejoy, Bryan Allen and Luca Sbisa are the returnees. Fowler and Lovejoy are the only legit top four defenders in the group. The jury could still be out on Lovejoy. Allen is a stay@home specialist who can log big minutes. Last season, Coach was still spot playing Sbisa in order to protect him during his 4th season in the NHL. Allen was also an occasional healthy scratch.

Ducks also have the newly signed Fistric, Sami Vatanen, Mat Clark, Hampus Lindholm and Kyle Cumiskey  who will compete for those 5th, 6th and 7th D spots on the roster.

We’ll need everyone to step up. The good news is that we still have our best defensive pairing, Hiller & Fasth between the pipes.

This report is translated from the original Finnish newspaper Iltalehti.fi. The reporter, Pekka Jolanin reports that Teemu is readying himself for a return to the NHL, but not necessarily to our Ducks.

Selanne has not yet made a final decision in respect of the next season. All, however, indicate very strongly that Teemu’s career will continue for at least a year.
– In front is the biggest decision of my career. I have three options that I can choose from, Selanne said.
Ridge options most likely to have continued in Anaheim. The other two options are to play in another NHL club or career termination.

Play for another NHL team? At least now Bob Murray’s out of the blue comment that, “I’ll do whatever is necessary to sign Teemu” make sense.

This is what happens when people are less than forthright. If Teemu wants to play elsewhere that’s his right and his business. But if Bob Murray hadn’t been gaming the situation, dropping hints at every turn that our Ducks are heading in a different direction, we could have had a clean break.

Yes, I have confirmed the story. It’s the first time since our Ducks Cup win that Teemu has stated publicly that he might sign to play elsewhere. The Winnipeg Jets would welcome him back but they have even less cap room than our Ducks do.

I’m told that Teemu plans on meeting with Coach Boudreau and GM Bob Murray upon his return to SoCal. He will be looking for a commitment that will include top six minutes, 19-21 minutes per game and 1st unit PP time. If he doesn’t get that he will look to going to Winnipeg or elsewhere.

It’s all well and good that Teemu will meet with the Coach and the GM but what about the Captain and his sidekick? They want Penner. What happens in the room if Teemu pushes Pancake down the depth chart? Do The Twins still get Flash the puck? This is the junk that can happen when ownership gets between management and the players.

Now regardless of what happens, Teemu Selanne’s status is needlessly very messy. It’s certainly no way to run a railroad. At least not if you want the trains arriving and departing on time.

Does anyone really think that if Bob Murray wanted Teemu back that he wouldn’t have kept more cap room available? And if Flash returns at this point the possible outcomes are negative. (1) He risks losing his top six TOI to one of Emerson Etem, Kyle Palmieri and/or Dustin Penner or (2) He wins or is given a top six job and his presence inhibits the development of Etem or Palmieri.

The lure of one last Olympic tournament is compelling. Ducks fans will recall that Scot Niedermayer played at least one additional year primarily so that he could compete in the 2010 Olympics.

This is the disastrous example of what can happen when ownership over rides management. When Nieds was talked out of retiring at the then unheard of, take your time deciding plan, so what if we have to remake the team to accommodate his return, we will and we did.

And here we are again with Teemu Selanne holding up the team from moving forward.

Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky and many others have noted that nobody is bigger than the game or the team. Henry Samueli has changed that dynamic.