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Anaheim Ducks Season Preview
AP Photo by Jae C. Hong
Probably the main reason for the Ducks being eliminated from last season's NHL playoffs was the tower of power on the Edmonton defense named Chris Pronger.
So, in the spirit of not being able to lick something, so you join something or other, the Ducks traded for him this off season. Pronger, when combined with Scott Niedermayer, gives the Ducks the best one-two punch on defense that the league has seen in recent years.
The reason why Pronger was available in a trade is a story in and of itself. Rumors have run rampant -– and were repeated by the man himself -- that Pronger was bedding any number of women in Edmonton. Some said that he had impregnated one or more of them. Others said that his wife had slept with a teammate of his. It was speculated that it was Pronger who started WWI and not the assassination of Archduke Big Franny Ferdinand.
Pronger vehemently denied all allegations earlier this week to an Edmonton newspaper. Well, he sort of denied. Actually it was more of a pissy mocking than a true denial...
What was widely reported at the time of his trade request was that his wife was not a fan of living in Edmonton. Apparently nobody explained it to her that it was the “City of Champions.” So, Pronger asked management to try trade him, despite only being a year into a long-term lucrative contract. (Lucrative being Latin for “big honkin' pile o' cash.”) At this point most hockey fans joke about him being that very special kind of whipped. You know the one.
But, nobody would dare say it to his face. Whether or not he wears the pants in the family, he'll knock you on yours on the ice. Chris Pronger is tough.
And while the Ducks are viewed by some as legit Cup contenders this season, they are going to need Pronger's toughness and skill to compete in an improved division. Especially when you consider that Joe Thornton will be even more comfortable in San Jose. That is just scary.
With Joffrey Lupul having been traded to Edmonton in the Pronger deal, the Ducks are going to need Ryan Getzlaf to really step up this season. Getzlaf got off to a good start by scoring the Duck's only goal in Monday night's man-sized 7-1 ass-whomping at the hands of the Kings. Thankfully it's only the exhibition season. Which is kind of like the first time you ever have sex. You might have all the right parts to be successful, you know what you are supposed to be doing, a few thousand people are watching, but timing and stamina can really let you down.
In addition to Getzlaf, the Ducks will also need big seasons from youngsters Corey Perry and Stanislav Chistov. Plus, the ageless Teamu Selanne will need to keep flourishing in this "new" finesse player-friendly NHL.
If there is a question about the Ducks, it is clearly between the posts. There are rumors that J.S. Giguere could be traded at any point - though it is hard to imagine a team that's good fit for him right now. Perhaps one will emerge as the season begins and players go down with injuries. But, even if Giguere is dealt, is Ilya Bryzgalov ready to take over as the number one goalie? Some nights it looks like he is, others, well, not so much.
That decision, and all others, will be made by Vice President and General Manager Brian Burke. The former Vancouver Canucks top man is a very experienced hockey mind. Canadian hockey fans love the out-spoken Irishman. So. Cal. hockey followers will soon see that he is a "pull no punches"quote machine. Of course, his quotes get more interesting the worse his team plays.
You probably don't want that, eh?
Tomorrow I'll look at the L.A. Kings.
Peter just ordered the NHL package for his satellite dish and hangs out at www.peterdewolf.com
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