With both the NHL and NHLPA having agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement this past week, it is almost time to drop the puck.
NHL training camps officially opened on Sunday, January 13th. The regular season will begin Saturday, January 19th.
The Anaheim Ducks will open on the road. They will face Vancouver on the 19th, and then Calgary on the 21st, before returning to southern California for their home opener on Friday against Vancouver. The 2 game homestand will conclude on the following night, when they face Nashville.
Bruce Boudreau will begin his first full season behind the bench, and his newest assistant coach will be none other than future hall of fame defenseman Scott Niedermayer. Niedermayer was a member of the Ducks' 2007 Stanley Cup winning team.
Boudreau made his name as an offensive-minded coach, while coaching the Washington Capitals from 2007 - 2012. Bruce had the Ducks playing excellent hockey towards the latter part of last season after taking over for Randy Carlyle. Carlyle was dismissed last season after 24 games. Boudreau himself, had been fired after coaching 22 games for the Capitals.
Niedermayer is one of the best puck-moving defensemen ever to play the game. Everyone is aware of the tremendous upside of young Ducks' defensemen Cam Fowler, and Luca Sbisa. Fowler especially, is a natural puck carrier and should benefit greatly from Scotty's tutelage during practices, and presence behind the bench during games. Neidermayer was a steady, calm ultra cool skater during his playing days and looks to instill those qualities in this generation of young Ducks' blueliners.
Also affecting the defensive corps, will be the absence of veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who in June 2012, was traded to the Islanders, in exchange for a 2nd round draft pick.
It is well known this will also be Teemu Selanne's swan song. The Finnish legend has announced this will be his final season. The high-scoring winger is only 37 goals away from 700 in his career. He is just 57 assists shy of 800. This is a prime example of the affect the lockout can have on a player's career. These numbers would likely be attainable in a standard 82 game season, but due to this being only a 48 game season, Teemu is unlikely to reach either mark before he retires.
The Winnipeg Jets originally drafted Selanne 10th overall in 1988. He set the rookie record for goals in a season, with 76 in 1992-93. Teemu has also been through the shortened 1994-95 season, as well as the canceled season of 2004-05.
Then there is the continuing saga of Bobby Ryan, who seems to be unofficially on and off the trading block every other month. He is a member of the team at this time, but rumors continue to swirl.
There has also been talk of the Ducks possibly dealing one of his linemates, either Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry as well. For now, both Getzlaf and Perry are still members of the team, and GM Bob Murray says he would like to sign both of them, but the winds of change are blowing.
Though the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012, and there is much focus on their effort to repeat as champions, there should be plenty of drama in Anaheim to keep their fans focused during this truncated season.
Drop the puck.
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