Anaheim Selects Hometown Hockey Player

Emerson Etem was born in Long Beach, CA, so when he finally gets around to getting those “professional athlete” business cards printed up, he might want to be extra specific.

It’s not that Long Beach hasn’t produced its share of athletically gifted residents over the past few decades (including tennis legend Billie Jean King, NFL linebacker Willie McGinest and safeties Mark Carrier and Jeff Severson, MLB outfielder Tony Gwynn, Olympic volleyball gold medalist Misty May-Treanor, just to name a few), but all those sports stars upbringings were aided by their warm weather surroundings.

Etem, on the other hand, is recent first round selection of the Ducks, Anaheim’s ice hockey team, which may bring joy to thousands of Los Angeles area fans every year, but is rarely composed of any LA-area residents.

Etem actually got his start playing roller hockey, following in the footsteps of his older brother Martin, later transitioning into ice skates. He grew up watching Martin play for the Long Beach Jr. Ice Dogs, though soon it will be Martin’s turn to watch his younger brother take the NHL stage.

The two brothers are not the only athletes in the family as their mother Patricia made the US Olympic rowing team, taking part in the 1984 Olympic Games in LA.Sidney Crosby also had an effect on Etem’s hockey trajectory.

Inspired by a Crosby-led team Shattuck St. Mary’s squad, Emerson chose to take his hockey talents to Minnesota at the age of 14 where he would later help the Shattuck-St. Mary’s Sabers, a prominent prep team in Faribault, MN, to their second consecutive Tier I 17&Under Title.In Etem, the Ducks get not only a hometown kid but a left-handed scorer from the right wing position.

Playing last season for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL, Emerson lit the lamp 37 times to go with 28 assists, notching a total of 65 points in 72 games. In 12 post season contests, he added additional 7 goals and 3 assists.


Round 2 and Beyond

Contrary to popular belief, the NHL Entry Draft continues well beyond one round each and every June. To be exact, the 1st round completes only 1/7th of the total action to be had on draft night, with many current and past NHL stars hearing their name called long after Round 1 has come to a close.

In total, the Anaheim Ducks walked away with an 8 man class from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, only two of which were first round selections. Here’s a look at the Ducks final 6 picks of the night, all of whom hope to make a meaningful impact to the franchise over the course of their budding careers.

Round 2Pick 12: Devante Smith-Pelly, Right Wing, Mississauga St. Michael’s (OHL) In his second year with Mississauga St. Michael’s, Smith-Pelly took a major step forward, netting 16 additional goals and 21 additional assists, bringing his year end totals to 29 and 33 respectively, while more than doubling his total point output from 25 in year 1 to 62 in year 2.

Round 5Pick 2: Christopher Wagner, Right Wing, South Shore (EJHL) Wagner was prolific in his second season with South Shore, scoring 34 times coupled with 49 assists, adding up to 83 points in just 44 appearances in 2009-2010.

Pick 12: Tim Heed, Defenseman, Sodertalje (Sweden) A bit undersized for a prototypical defenseman, Heed has posted solid offensive contributions for his native Swedish squad to the tune of 8 goals and 29 assists in 32 games last year.

Round 6Pick 11: Andreas Dahlstrom, Center, AIK (Sweden) Dahlstrom is raw, but makes a valuable asset as a tough guy. Not an elite scorer, the young Swede tends to rack up significantly more penalty minutes than goals or assists.

Pick 27: Kevin Lind, Defenseman, Chicago (USHL) Lind provides a big body on defense and doesn’t shy away from contact. He made some offensive contributions as well with 6 goals and 10 assists in 55 contests a year ago.

Round 7Pick 12: Brett Perlini, Right Wing, Michigan State (CCHA) By no means a scorer, the grinder has nice size for his position and uses it well around the ice.


Will Kariya Rejoin the Flock?

With good friend and long time teammate Teemu Selanne re-upping with Anaheim for one more season, rumor has it Paul Kariya is seriously considering making his own prodigal return to Anaheim.

Kariya, who first played for the Ducks in 1994-1995, with great sticks in hand he spent his first 9 NHL season in Anaheim, during 7 of which he served as the team’s captain.

In 2004, Kariya promised to bring a Stanley Cup to Anaheim, though he has yet to play a game with Ducks since making the proclamation. At the end of his 9 year tenure in Anaheim, Kariya and former GM Byran Murray allegedly reached a verbal agreement in which Kariya would take a pay cut in order for more high-caliber acquisitions to help the team better chase the Cup.

However, during the ensuing off-season, Kariya chose to sign with the Colorado Avalanche, who also signed Selanne, re-uniting the friends and line mates for the first time since 2000-2001. Ultimately the Avalanche fell short in their Stanley Cup quest. After his one year stint in Colorado, Kariya signed with Nashville where he spent two years with the Predators before leaving town for St. Louis via free agency.

For the past three seasons, Kariya has struggled to live up to his lofty career benchmarks with the Blues, though perhaps were he to re-sign with Anaheim and once again play alongside Selanne, the one-time Duck captain could be rejuvenated towards a late career statistical resurgence.

At 35 years old, it is difficult to tell how much Kariya has left in the tank. Selanne, on one hand, has strung together productive seasons well past Kariya’s current age, having turned 40 this July and already committed to at least one more season with Anaheim. If nothing else, seeing Kariya and Selanne skate together once more under the Ducks banner would be a welcome sight to Anaheim eyes.


Packed Close in the Pacific

With less than two thirds of the season left to play, most divisions seem to fall into at least some semblance of top to bottom order with a substantial chunk of schedule now in the rear view mirror. The exception? The Pacific Division of the Western Conference.

Of the 5 teams termed “Pacific,” though Dallas and Phoenix might rightly maintain geographic gripes, all 5 teams look potent enough at this juncture to finish first, thus equally in danger of a last place result.Taking a look around the league, at least one team in every other division has gone belly-up or lightning speed forward through the early slate of games.

With confidence it can be determined the neither the New York Islanders nor the New Jersey Devils (surprising, this early at least) will win the Atlantic, the Leafs and Senators are extreme long shots at best in the Northeast, the Panthers and Canes can call it a year in the Southeast, Detroit is comfortably atop the Central, and the Oilers seem to have tragically spilled all over the Northwest.

Meanwhile, the Ducks, Stars, Kings, Sharks and Coyotes, while they may not blow away any onlookers in the win column, have put together remarkably solid seasons from top to bottom.Looking forward, however, this poses a problem.

At the current rate, not only will potentially deserving teams find themselves on the outside of postseason play looking in, but none of these cookie cutter outfits seem to have the firepower to make a mark atop the overall conference rankings.

Such a thorough collection of good not great units has little advantage on an individual team basis, discounting fan advantages such as competitive hockey and an intriguing playoff race down the stretch, were the status quo to hold.

Can the Ducks assert themselves atop this homogenous second tier grouping and make the jump to the elite level of NHL competition? Well, to this point, we stand as good a chance as the rest of our Pacific brethren.


Project Penner

As I started reading Brian Burke’s first public words about this Dustin Penner signing, I started to think why is this such a big deal. Everything I read has this notion that the Ducks need to sign Penner, they need to know if the two stars are going to retire, that way we can get Dustin signed.

Sorry, he isn’t worth $4.3m right now. The stats have been posted, Earl Sleek over at the BoC did some great number crunching as usual and even came up with a pounds per dollar sum, lol. It is crazy to think that Penner would get paid that much money, given his rocky road to get to this level.

I am not one to believe in things like your placement in the draft should dictate your salary, your play on the ice should. He had a great rookie year, no doubt, but why did he have such a rough trek to the NHL?

From watching him play all year, he sometimes has a lazy mentality, but all the tools to dominate. Who is that big with such good hands? He dishes, he scores and he is fucking huge. Randy Carlyle has put him in the dog house a few times for what was reportedly not giving 100% and showing up late.

Dude, stop living on the beach, you should be showing your teammates and the executives that you are committed to the cause. I think if he had done that all season, gone out and been a terror in front of the net and punished people, Burke would have an easier decision to make.

If a possessed Penner shows up every game, you have to look at what John Leclair, Keith Tkachuk and even our very own Todd Bertuzzi have done in the past. Leclair had three 50 goal seasons in a row, Tkachuk had two and Bertuzzi peaked at 46. Dustin Penner is younger, bigger and more talented than any of those three.

So Burke has to question all of this. Does he take a big risk on a player that has literally limitless possibilities and jeopardize the stability of his team or does he take draft picks in what is said to be a deep draft in 08? The more and more I wrote here, the more I think that he needs to take a risk on this kid.

This might crush the return of Teemu Selanne, even if Niedermayer retires. So thank you Kevin Lowe, you stupid prick, you have created a really stupid trend. Every RFA with similar or beyond numbers is going to want the same inflated, baseless contract that you tendered to Penner.

This also flies into the territory of bumping up the salaries of Ryan Getlaf and Corey Perry next year, when you know someone will easily offer Getzlaf $5m+. Todd Bertuzzi needs to come off the books already and he hasn’t even played a game for the team…


Selanne Back for another Year

Already among the Ducks’ all-time greats, if not NHL greats, right winger Teemu Selanne is set to return to Anaheim for one more season. Selanne, who suffered through multiple injuries last season while still managing to produce 27 goals, was though by many pundits to on his way out of the league. It was all thanks that he carefully selected his hockey helmet and ice skate.

Selanne began his NHL playing days in 1992, originally drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 1988, and now looks to expand his prolific career into yet another decade. Now 40 years old, Selanne has been surprisingly productive as an elder statesman for the Ducks.

Since his second go round with Anaheim began following the 2005-2005 lockout, Selanne has scored 27 goals in 4 of 5 seasons, reaching the 90 point plateau (combined goals and assists) in each of the first two seasons.

Though he has played in limited contests over the past 3 seasons, when on the ice, Selanne still provides valuable contributions to the Ducks squad, and even when kept off the ice, his leadership and veteran savvy in the clubhouse is invaluable.

Over the course of his NHL career Selanne has spent time with the Jets, Sharks and Avalanche, though Anaheim has been his home for two extended periods of play. While he showed significant signs of promise during his early days with the Jets, Selanne truly hit his stride after a trade first landed him with the Ducks.

In just his first full season with Anaheim, teaming up on a line with fellow superstar Paul Kariya, Selanne went on to capture the 1998 NHL Scoring Title, a feat he would repeat a year later in 1999.

Perhaps his second era in Anaheim has been even more successful. In 2005-2005, his first season after rejoining the Ducks Selanne was named NHL Comeback Player of the Year. A year later he helped the Ducks hoist both their first and his first Stanley Cup Trophy.


With Pick 12 the Anaheim Ducks Select

Cam Fowler, Defenseman, Windsor (OHL) By most accounts, the Ducks landed a steal when Cam Fowler was still on the board with the 12th pick in the first round. In fact, the Ducks didn’t even take the time to interview Fowler at the NHL Draft Combine, assuming he would be long gone by the time their pick came around.

Most forecasters predicted Fowler to be among the first 5 players selected on draft night; however, after a number of surprising picks, perhaps none more surprising than the Rangers selection of Moosejaw’s Dylan McIlrath, a fellow defenseman, ahead of Fowler, the Ducks found an unexpected present had fallen into their laps.

When a relieved Cam Fowler finally heard his name called after a few more minutes passed than most anticipated, a symbolic moment occurred on stage when retired Ducks defenseman great Scott Niedermayer handed the young fellow his inaugural (though ceremonial) Ducks jersey.

Fowler, hopefully the next premiere defenseman for the Ducks, seemed understandably awe-struck after meeting Neidermayer, a player he grew up emulating. Of the draft day slide, Fowler admitted the slide was tough at the time, though all-in-all Ducks fans will be happy to hear him acknowledge “I’m in a great organization happy to have me.

At the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.”Though born in Windsor, Ontario, Fowler spent the majority of his youth living in Michigan. Fowler has dual citizenship in both the US and Canada, but has played for the United States National Team in the World Junior Championship at both the Under-18 and Under 20 levels, taking home the gold medal in both contests.

The 18-year old spent this past season playing for the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL, where he netted 8 goals while helping on 47 assists, tallying 55 points in just 55 games. Prior to the draft, he was generally touted as one of the better offensive defenseman prospects to enter the league in recent years.


What To Expect At A Ducks Game

The ice comes alive as you feel the raw emotion and strength of the crowd and the game hasn’t even started yet. Being at an Anaheim Ducks game is like nothing you have ever experienced.

With the best fans in the National Hockey League the Anaheim Ducks are ready to take all comers and as a fan you should be ready for an experience unrivaled by any other sporting event you have ever been to. You will be blown away by the passion the fans display. The Anaheim Ducks are ready to show you why they are the best team in the league; are you prepared to watch them?

With every check into the wall the fervor of the crowd grows stronger, threatening to overflow into a full blown frenzy. It is not possible to sit in the stands at an Anaheim Ducks game and not get swept up in the emotion of the crowd.

Are you ready to stand with your fellow Ducks and support your team? Have you practiced the “Bro Hymn” for every goal? Can you handle to passion that builds with ever hit and check? Find out by going to an Anaheim Ducks game this season!


Duck’s Go To Bat For Sick Kids

Satellite TV service gives you access to great NHL games throughout the season. If you were watching one particular game in March 2011, you might have seen a special event.

Tommy Conforti is just like many other children. Tommy is from Florence, Italy, where he loved to play soccer, loved surfing, was a great student getting straight A’s and has recently learned to play ballads on an acoustic guitar. However, Tommy has a huge difference. He has leukemia which is robbing him of his eyesight, causing him a lot of pain, and may in the end take his life.

However, none of that mattered on Monday, March 14, 2011 as he got to be the hero in the Duck’s losing effort against the Vancouver Canucks. That night Tommy got to attend his first hockey match and was treated like a king for the night. He got to drop the puck, ride the Zamboni and visit the locker room after the game.

For five years now the team has been huge supporters of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. In the past they have raised 400,000 for the hospital. 45 of the 75 players have made visits to the hospital. Many of the players visit the hospital on their own time, without any cameras rolling. The players are not the only ones that get involved. Their wives do, too. For the last five years they have held a fashion show each year, which has turned into a very popular community event.