The Leafs kick off their West Coast road trip tonight with a game at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Earl Sleek's game day preview looks at both team's rosters the last time the Leafs played in Anaheim over four years ago. Only Sundin, Tucker, McCabe, Kaberle, and Ponikarovsky were around for that last trip to California which ended in a 5-1 loss. The last time these two teams met was in Toronto two years ago when the Leafs won 3-2.
Today's 5 questions feature Finny, the brains behind Girl With A Puck, an Anaheim season ticket holder and author of an in-depth and interesting look at the relationship between traditional media and bloggers.
1.How have you been enjoying the extended training camp (until Feb 26th I am guessing) that the Ducks have been participating in until Teemu returns and the facade of retirement is finally completely removed?
Considering I never again want to do another retirement watch, I'd say that the extended training camp has been fairly successful. The early games showed how much we suck without the uber-godlike skills of Sammy Pahlsson, Teemu Selanne, and Scott Niedermayer. I think it taught us not to take their multi-million dollar salaries as a joke, seeing as they're pretty much worth every nickel and dime.
Sleek insinuates that it's possible for the Ducks to succeed sans Finnish Flash, and I'm inclined to agree with him -- but I'd never say, "Oh, no, Teemu. That's alright. Let me take you to the golf course instead." I'd probably sharpen his skates and happily air out his stinky gear. [Ed.'s Note: Or...your team could trade Edmonton's pick, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan to the Leafs for Sundin]
2. As a fan do you feel cheated that those two guys have been wasting their time trying to save actual ducks or having Finnish saunas instead of trying to defend their Stanley Cup?
Personally, no. I think other fans might disagree with me, but I am not inclined to say, "Yeah, I know what that feels like, an 82-game grind plus four grueling rounds of playoffs! Suck it up, old timer, and get back on those skates!" I was stressed out enough just being in the stands! What do I know about how much effort, drive, personal exertion is required to actually win the big silver chalice?
I figure you can look at it two ways: (1) they're being selfish. They're taking their time off to waddle about the house, tinker with their golf clubs, learn to pack a lunch or two for their kids before dropping them off at their ultra-private school. Or, (2) They deserve a break. They've put in over a decade-plus' worth of game time, their bodies are weary, broken, tired, and aching.
There's always a third option, though: The FINNY option (which is highly Brian Burke-influenced): I'm not concerned with what they will or won't do. I'm concerned with what this team - the one right here on the ice in front of me - is doing. The rest is their individual perogative. Would I have wanted them to play the full season? Absolutely. But I'd rather know that they're doing it because they love it, live it, want it, need it, and therefore would give their left nut (so to speak) to play it again... rather than hate it and play like crap for the whole year, breaking my heart and making me wish they'd chosen retirement. You gotta know when you're doing more harm than good.
3. You have a season ticket to the Ducks right? As a Leaf fan I will forever be unfamiliar with that concept. How does that feel?
I do have season seats along with Cassie (Anaheim Duck Fan), Jess (Miss Anaheim), and Rachel (who's blogless) -- and yes, those are shameless plugs. It feels like an empty pocket, considering the cost of tickets + parking + gas. :) It's all supply-and-demand, though. If hockey didn't at least break even (and from what I understand, we've been in the red for some time though I'm guessing last season helped out quite a bit) here in the Southland, we could quite possibly be facing the same dilemma that the Pens had last season: uncertain ownership, a possible re-location to a more hockey-oriented city that would appreciate them more. [Ed.'s Note: Like Hamilton or Winnipeg or any hamlet in Canada...]
I'm grateful for the opportunity to see the action live and to be allowed the opportunity to be up-close-and-personal at the glass, to get caught up in the emotion with the crowd, and of course... the chance to get my pucks signed in person. It's a lot of great fun, but if I couldn't afford it, I'd live with NHL Center Ice and be perfectly happy. But some days? I wish I could exist in a world where hockey was front-page news (um... Jiri Tlusty excluded, actually), and where nearly everyone around you knew and could "talk hockey". [Ed.'s Note: But then you'd have to read Damien Cox and Steve Simmons and see them on TV all of the time and trust me, it's not worth the heartburn] I could definitely live without the blank stares of, "What? Hockey?!"
4. If you could undo one move that Burke's made since becoming GM what would it be?
I think this is a no-brainer question for me: I'D FRIGGIN' KEEP SHANE O'BRIEN. (sob). [Ed.'s Note: He went to Tampa for a first-rounder last year.] But, I think that's only for purely selfish reasons. Truth be told, the type of game he enjoys playing is the type of game he's playing now in Tampa Bay. So... I don't know. If he'd stayed here, I doubt he would've cracked top-4 for another two, three years. So, better for him and terrible for me that the Black Saturday trade happened.
5. The season is halfway done so I guess I'll ask you which player has impressed the most, which has disappointed the most, and which one do you most frequently run into out on the town?
Well, if I'm picking a guy that's in the line-up night-in, night-out, I'd say I'm most impressed with Ryan Getzlaf. He's been consistently good. He plays in every situation and you can see that intensity on his face when he plays. There's focus and drive, and I think the kid really loves the game. It shows. In his relatively short time here (two-and-a-half seasons now), he's become indispensible. I heard all those rumors about the Leafs wanting him, and I can see why. He's quite the package. [Ed.'s Note: Luckily JFJ made the Yannick Perreault and Travis Green moves first!]
I've been most disappointed with Francois Beauchemin. While he made vast improvements upon his arrival here, I feel like he's topped off a bit this season. I don't know how many times I've screamed at him from my seat to hold the line because inevitably, the puck comes towards him and pops over his stick or squeezes just past him and out of the zone. Drives me positively insane. Plus, I feel like he isn't hitting as much or shooting the puck as much... thus the - 12, worst + / - of the squad right now.
And... Corey Perry would be the player I most frequently run into out on the town.