Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Ducks hope success transfers to team
By Tom Murray Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com
They gathered at center ice for a picture, the seven medalists from the Olympic Games in Vancouver. There they were ... the captain, Scott Niedermayer, along with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, in their red jerseys, their gold medals dangling around their necks.
The three of them not only have those medals now, but Stanley Cup rings as well.
"It's special," Perry said. "Not too many guys can say that. I'm only 24. Hopefully there's more to come."
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The American kids were there too: Ryan Whitney and Bobby Ryan, who reluctantly surrendered his baseball cap, but matched his silver medal with shorts and flip-flops.
And, of course, Finland's bronze medalists, Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne, who suggested he and his teammates play a little game of street hockey "for the gold medals."
Everyone laughed, and afterward all the Olympians spoke about the importance of trying to maintain the level of intensity on display in virtually every game in Vancouver for the 20-game stretch run facing the Ducks, who are on the outside looking in for the playoffs. The Ducks are in 11th place in the Western Conference with 67 points, only three behind eighth-place Detroit.
"Obviously, we want to make sure that we're going to be ready right away," Selanne said. "Emotionally, it was a big tournament for so many guys and we just have to make sure that tomorrow we're going to be ready and have a good start. That's really key."
Said Ryan: "We've got some work to do and that's not lost on any of the guys that won a medal. We had Anaheim on our thoughts the entire time. We've got 20 games to work on gaining some ground, but I think we'll be OK."
Getzlaf said it's a matter of the Ducks keeping their level of play high.
"We got to stay on that high and keep playing the same hockey we were playing," he said. "We're going down a stretch run where we have to start playing playoff hockey right now and get ourselves in a playoff spot."
Niedermayer also says he understands how important it is for the intensity of the Olympics to carry over.
"There are some adjustments that need to be made, but hopefully we can carry over the energy and excitement and intensity right into this playoff run that we have right now and try and use it to our advantage," he said.
Perry said it's up to the Olympians to set that sort of example for the other players.
"If you can keep up that intensity and compete level," Perry said, "it's just going to help everyone here that weren't part of the Games and everyone will play that much stronger and harder. Hopefully, we can do that."
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle says he expects the energy and intensity of his Olympians will be infectious.
"You would like them to continue the momentum and the level of play that they played to up there, back with us," he said. "That's what we've asked them to do -- every one of them. That's what our expectations are. And we expect them to do what they do best -- they're hockey players. Come back and play hockey."
Carlyle and every one of his players know what's at stake.
"We have an opportunity in these next 20 games to put ourselves in a position to qualify for the playoffs," he said. "There's a bunch of teams trying to do the same thing, but the one thing we have done is given ourselves a chance in the last six weeks or so to knock on the door. But it's no easy task, just because of the number of teams that are doing the same thing. And the teams that we are going to be playing against are teams that are above us or who are competing as we are to get in."
Meanwhile, with the trade deadline arriving at noon PT Wednesday, general manager Bob Murray echoed the sentiments his Kings counterpart Dean Lombardi expressed Monday.
"I don't get a feeling for any hockey deals," Murray said. "I'm always willing to talk about those, but I'm not hearing any right now. I don't get the sense that anybody else is talking about a hockey deal, which would be a blockbuster. I don't hear any names of that nature so far."
Murray, though, acknowledged that the suggestion that it will be quiet on the trade front Wednesday is not unusual.
"We say that every year," he said laughing. "I'm aware of some things that he [Lombardi] is trying to do. We all have places we want to upgrade on our team and with a cap system you're always going to have challenges because a cap system is never perfect."
And Murray is happy with the group he has, if nothing more happens Wednesday.
"Oh sure," he said. "This team has played well. We put ourselves in an awful position early in the year and we managed to crawl out of that position. I like the players in the room. I'm not going to be disappointed if I don't do anything."
But one thing Murray says he won't be doing is listening to any offers involving Niedermayer, whose name has surfaced as someone who could be leaving the team before the deadline.
"That's because you guys keep bringing up that name," Murray said. "I never bring up that name. This is a broken record: Scott Niedermayer is going nowhere. That's the last time I'll answer that question."
And that, friends, was the end of the meeting.
Tom Murray covers hockey for ESPNLosAngeles.com.