What a week this has been for the Penguins.
-The new arena deal
-Beating the Sabres
-Mario and Co. have decided not to sell the team
-Beating the Devils in a SHUTOUT
-Beating the Habs
-4 points behind the Devils for the division lead (Devils 94, Pens 90. The next up is the Islanders with 78. The Flyers are wilting at the bottom with 51)
Ottawa, watch out.
How great is it to be able to say that? How often have the Pens had any reason to celebrate in the past ten years? I wouldn't even need two hands to count them. Also, on a side note, I will stop saying that Sidney has been quiet. Two goals, one of which was his patented shoot-from-an-impossible-angle-on-his-ass goal (couldn't find a clip of it). Malkin and Oulette had a great run up for one of them, too. What a great time to be a fan of the Penguins.
What about the other birds of the NHL? I'm not talking about the Thrashers (is that a...crane?) or the Capitals, but the Anaheim Ducks, the only other team aside from the Penguins with an avian namesake.
-Founded in 1993 by the Disney Company (they like to make marketing ploys with sports teams. Hello Angels) and was the first tenant at Arrowhead Pond, which was finished that same year as a little hutch for the ducklings. It is now the Honda Center.
-The 'Mighty Ducks' were sold in 2005 to the Sameulis for 75 mil. Damn, who has that much money to buy a team with? The GM is Brian Burke of Vancouver fame, and the head coach is Randy Carlyle, who is a former Penguin from around the time I was born. From one bird to another, eh Carlyle? A side note on Carlyle: he was drafted by the Leafs in 76 and stands a short 5'10. Probably most recently remembered for being the coach of the Manitoba Moose for six seasons.
-Changed their name from 'The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim' to 'The Anaheim Ducks' this season. The uniform changed as well, going away from the 80's fashionable teal and purple, to the more subdued colors of black, orange and white. They kept the mascot, Wildwing, due to fan support of the large, hockey playing duck. I wonder what would have happened if they went the way that the Pens went in the beginning and got a live duck? Would it have been a mallard? They could even name it snazzy things, like 'Ducky' and 'Ducky McDuck' (although nothing beats Pete and Re-Pete).
-Their first draft pick was for Paul Kariya. The current captain of the Ducks is Scott Neidermayer, who plays along with his brother Rob.
-The Ducks' AHL affliate is the Portland Pirates.
Starting from a movie about kids playing hockey isn't easy, and I think a lot of fans didn't think too much of the young team from Anaheim (I admit, I was one of them, although I loved the movies. Who didn't? The Flying V was money). However, and as much as it pains me to admit this, the Ducks have proven themselves to be an actual hockey team and not a logo by the Disney Corportation.
The Ducks' first three seasons didn't show too much bang, ending 4th, 6th, and 4th in the Pacific. The 96-97 was their breakout year, until the Wings spanked them in the semifinals. The rest of the late 90's and early 2000 years weren't so good, again getting bent over by Detroit in 98-99, and not showing up in the playoffs until 2003. The 2003 playoffs seemed to be the magic year for the Ducks, crushing the Red Wings and moving all the way up to lose in the finals against the Devils.
Last year was also a good year for the Ducks. Fresh from the lockout, they went all the way to the conference finals, getting run over by Edmonton in the end. This year they're in line for another great run at the Cup, and may go all the way. A first Cup for them in their new incarnation would be big, and if they stay healthy (sorry, I'll stop cursing Pronger...next year), they're looking good for it.
The Ducks have had some big names over the years, like Selanne, Fedorov, Kariya, Pronger, Neidermayer (both of them), Prospal, Kurri, Kilger and Lonely, who was their first captain (another former Penguin). Their current team also hold some notable names of up and coming players, like McDonald, Penner, Perry, and
sigh Getzlaf, among others. Overall, they have a great blue line, and their scoring drive is impressive with their 'Kid Line'. Giguere is also pretty good between the pipes, but my favorite Ducks goalie is Bryzgalov. Anyone who has listened to this guy will know why, he is a complete riot, and illustrates why most people consider goalies crazy. They also have Sebastian Caron in the system, best remembered for a mind-boggling save on the Flyers in 2005-2006 when he was still with the Penguins (is it just me, or are there a lot of former Pens on the Anaheim roster?). He was traded from the Blackhawks to the Ducks in December.
-Selanne used to teach kindergarten in Finland.
-Along with an animated show, the Disney Corp. wanted to further embarrass the players by putting 'Mighty' before each of their names on the back of the jerseys. This was squashed by the players themselves, several threatening to negotiate contracts with the Coyotes in retaliation.
-Wildwing regularly comes down from the rafters at the beginning of the game.
Well, that's all I can think of/find for the Anaheim Ducks. If I'm missing anything or got anything wrong, please let me know. Next up are the Sharks, who I think still have the most hokey entrance of any hockey team in the national league, even over the Oilers and the Oil Rig.
17 March 2007
What a week this has been for the Penguins.