And so, hockey season begins.
With 60 people on the roster, the Ducks began training camp by splitting everyone up into three manageable groups.
Despite the large number of bodies getting a look (however brief or long that may be), there was no question on who the front runners were. Coach Bruce Boudreau wasted no time in setting up line combinations that might be what you see on ice when the regular season begins.
Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Dustin Penner were reunited. Penner left the Ducks organization as a restricted free agent after winning the Stanley Cup in 2007. After stints with Edmonton and Los Angeles, Penner has returned home and is still wearing his familiar #17.
“It was a lot of fun to be out there with those guys again,” Penner said. “It’s déjà vu. I keep noticing things like that over and over again. The guys, the atmosphere, and just being here at Anaheim Ice. We were even looking at pictures from eight or nine years ago from the guys who were here.”
Teemu Selanne, entering his final NHL season, was paired with a couple young 'uns in Nick Bonino and newcomer Jakob Silfverberg. Silfverberg was acquired from Ottawa in the Bobby Ryan trade and brings a lot of speed and skill to the table. He looked comfortable with his new linemates and he should fit in nicely.
Boudreau must have liked what he saw on day one, because that line was also out on the ice for the Ducks first scrimmage. It paid off in a goal from Silfverberg.
Saku Koivu centered Andrew Cogliano and Emerson Etem and they showed plenty of speed and scoring potential. Cogliano also scored a goal during the first scrimmage.
Possible fourth line combos included Kyle Palmieri, Peter Holland and Matt Beleskey. Daniel Winnik, Devante Smith-Pelly and Patrick Maroon were also a possible combination.
Palmieri, Holland and Beleskey all scored goals in the scrimmage. Holland's turned out to be the game winner with less than 35 seconds left to play. Black squad defeated white squad, 5-4, in the pretty even match up.
While the first day of on-ice practice had a decent crowd in attendance, the scrimmage on day two was what really drew in the fans. There will be two more scrimmages on Saturday and Sunday, again at noon, following practice from 10:00am – 11:15am. Expect even larger crowds because of the weekend.
Again, with the high number of players on the roster, scrimmage number two is likely to look completely different than the first one. Perry, Getzlaf and Penner are likely to get a turn in that one, as is goaltender Jonas Hiller. Everyone has to take turns until there have been enough cuts in the personnel.
It certainly is nice to have hockey in September, unlike last year's lockout fiasco!
In other notes: Teemu Selanne made his rookie debut with Winnipeg on October 6, 1992. Of the 60 players currently on the Ducks training camp roster, 15 of those players were not yet born when Selanne took the NHL ice for the first time. No wonder he's retiring at the end of the season!
Defenseman Francois Beauchemin had ACL surgery in May, but was on the ice for two of the three sessions on day one of camp. No contact yet, but he looked strong and was not holding back in his skating. Certainly good news for Ducks fans, who will be missing Sheldon Souray, out recovering from wrist surgery until January.