Before the puck is dropped for the first NHL regular season game, season ticket holders gathered at the Ponda for the annual Face-Off Fest. There's free food to eat, games to play, locker room tours to take, discounted Ducks memorabilia to buy, Ponda ice to skate on and, what's probably the highlight for most fans, opportunities to meet and get autographs with the players.
I'm not a season ticket holder (maybe someday I'll be able to afford it!), but I have wonderful friends who were able to score a pair of tickets for me and my other half. By the way, no locker room tour for me this year, but if you're interested in pictures, I took some last year.
There were a few guys I was looking forward to talking with and getting autographs from. Both Danny Syvret and Brett Festerling were put on waivers that morning and would not be attending that evening's festivities. I wanted to be sure I got a chance to talk to Bobby Ryan, Saku Koivu, Curtis McElhinney, Luca Sbisa, and newcomer Andy Sutton. Maybe there would be enough time for Ryan Getzlaf too.
There's a strategy to standing in these lines. If I waited in Teemu Selanne's line, chances are I wouldn't be able to see anyone else. Selanne is almost always the most popular player every year, and especially this year, as it could be his last. We started off in Bobby's line and, considering how long it stayed throughout the entire event, I'm glad we got there early!
Brendan Mikkleson and Joffrey Lupul heading to their tent for autograph signing
Kyle Chipchura and Matt Beleskey signing autographs
Rookie Maxime Macenauer, who was showing some promise by the end of this season's training camp
I'm happy to hear that Maxime might be one of the first rookies called back up should there be a need for him on the roster during the regular season. If anything, the kid has good energy and grit.
Bobby Ryan and Maxime Macenauer
I had a few items to give Bobby, including a copy of a picture I'd taken of him stealing the puck from a fallen Corey Perry at training camp. He laughed as he took it, "That one will be going up in the locker room!"
Lubomir Visnovsky and Curtis McElhinney
Saku Koivu and fellow countryman Toni Lydman
This was probably the first time Ducks fans got a chance to see Lydman as he's been out of training camp with vision issues. The Ducks D could use a lot of work, and I'm sure I'm not the only one hoping Lydman turns out to be a valuable asset.
Ryan Getzlaf signing photographs
Troy Bodie and Andy Sutton
For a big bruiser of a guy, Sutton was incredibly gracious and sweet to the kids that came up to him for autographs. He beamed as I told him I felt it was fitting he'd wear #25 after Chris Pronger.
I got to see the players I was hoping to see and talk to some of my Ducks friends, many of which I haven't seen since last season. It's been a long summer! And, I picked up a Jiggy-signed puck for 10 bucks. Not bad!
"The biggest thing is just his poise and his hands are unbelievable. I played with [Evgeni] Malkin and [Sidney] Crosby, and those guys are probably the two best in the league. Bobby's hands are right with those guys... He's a superstar in the making, it seems."
---Ryan Whitney, former Ducks defenseman
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Labels: special events