With even less news on the Ducks front over the last seven days than the previous week, we'll start of this entry by taking a look at the recent events surrounding Anaheim's new AHL affiliate, the Iowa... Chops... *ahem*.
The club formerly known as the Stars has done all it can to keep itself in the spotlight since adopting its new moniker, from the unveiling of the team's controversial name and sharp, Duck-based uniforms to the offering of a roster spot to Green Ba- errr, New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre. Yahoo!'s Greg Wyshynski, a.k.a. "Puck Daddy," discusses both topics with an article on the seriousness of the contract offered to Favre
and guest writer Drew Van Woert's entertaining defense of the club's nickname
, which always invokes a clip of the famous Peter Brady quote in the head of yours truly.
Over on the OC Register's Ducks Blog, long-time Ducks writer Dan Wood analyzes the four finalists for Iowa's still-vacant coaching position
. This of course means that Pirates coach Kevin Dineen will remain in Portland to help mold Buffalo's prospects into NHL-caliber players. Personally, I will miss the former NHL winger's knack for helping younger players develop, but I'm sure the Chops will find a more-than-suitable bench boss to keep the Ducks' prospects in the Calder Cup playoffs.
With the preseason opener less than 40 days from now (the Ducks host the Sharks Sept. 24), I think it's about time to take a look at the Ducks' 2008-09 schedule. Here are my personal highlights (all times PST):
Wed Oct 15, 2008 | Oilers @ Ducks | 7:00pm
Will Bobby Ryan make Kevin Lowe regret his comments?
Mon Oct 27, 2008 | Ducks @ Blue Jackets | 4:00pm
Will Joakim Lindstrom make the roster to play the revamped version of his former team?
Fri Oct 31, 2008 | Canucks @ Ducks | 7:00pm
Will long-time Canuck Brendan Morrison put on a show for his new team's fans against his old team?
Sun Nov 2, 2008 | Flames @ Ducks | 5:00pm
Will ex-Duck Todd Bertuzzi put on his own show for fellow West Coast Expresser Morrison and the rest of his former teammates?
Wed Nov 5, 2008 | Blues @ Ducks | 7:00pm
Will the dynamic duo of Andy McDonald and Paul Kariya upstage former linemate Teemu Selanne?
Fri Nov 7, 2008 | Stars @ Ducks | 7:00pm
Will the Ducks avenge last season's early exit at the hands of division-rival Dallas?
Sun Nov 9, 2008 | Panthers @ Ducks | 5:00pm
Will Steve Montador remind his former mates why they preferred having him on their side?
Mon Dec 22, 2008 | Ducks @ Canucks | 7:00pm
Will Morrison shine in his first game using the visitors' locker room of GM Place?
Wed Jan 21, 2009 | Ducks @ Islanders | 4:00pm
Will Doug Weight prove that he is better than the player he was in his short tenure as a Duck?
-Clearly, the first week of November is one where Duck fans won't want to miss a single game.
-Every game against the Canucks and Flames will certainly be interesting if only for the Morrison and Bertuzzi storylines, but I have only highlighted the first game of those series and the first game Morrison will play in Vancouver.
-We all know how intense the games against the Sharks, Stars, Kings and Coyotes will be, so I have left out all games against division rivals, with the exception of the first game against Dallas due to the recent playoff history with them.
Joining the Flock
In this edition of JtF, we'll check out a player who has a strong chance of cracking the Ducks' top six defensive corps...
D #5? - Steve Montador
Born in Vancouver, BC | Age 28
6'0" | 205 lbs. | Shoots Right
Originally signed by Calgary in 2000
Signed to a one-year contract on 7/11/08
08-09 Salary Cap Hit: $800,000
With Mathieu Schneider the most likely candidate to be moved in order to free up cap space (whether to add Selanne or simply for more wiggle room, though any move would almost certainly be for the former), the Ducks sought after a cheap-yet-experienced blueliner to vie for one of the final two spots. Surprisingly, GM Brian Burke was able to pluck Steve Montador - a D-man who is steadily rising from under-the radar - out of the bargain bin. Other shoppers were willing to pay more at the check-out register, but Steve gave the Ducks the good ol' "best chance at the Cup" discount, making it a no-brainer for BB to throw him into the cart.
Monty first made a name for himself as part of the dynamic "Doors" duo when he and Mike Commodore filled in for an injury-plagued Flames blueline during their magical-yet-ultimately unsuccessful run to the Stanley Cup Finals (2003, anyone?). The two stepped in and immediately contributed big minutes and big goals, including Steve's overtime GWG in Game 1 of Calgary's Western Conference Final series with San Jose. Teammates had high praise for Montador, who showed his character by welcoming the challenge of being thrown right into the fire, no pun intended.
While Montador is best-suited for the third pairing, he makes the most of his time by contributing whatever the team needs him to at the moment. Looking for a decent shot on your second powerplay unit? He's your man. Is your team down and in need of a momentum-changing hit? Send him over the boards. It also doesn't hurt that he has the only right-handed shot on a team that reflects the strange league-wide phenomenon of mostly left-handed defensemen with its full cast of southpaws.
As somewhat of a Flames fan myself (no need to gather the pitchforks and torches, the Ducks will always be #1), the word that immediately pops into my head when discussing Monty is "team." Steve is basically a more-skilled upgrade to Joey DiPenta, though "Crazy Legs" may have the slight edge on the defensive side of the puck with his keep-it-simple style of play. That's not a knock on either guy, by the way, as I like to think there is always a spot for character guys like Montador and #33 on the Ducks.
If Schneider is indeed moved, expect Monty to be given the first shot as Kent Huskins' newest partner, though nothing is guaranteed with guys like Brian Salcido, Mark Mitera and Brendan Mikkelson looking to impress Ducks brass at the upcoming training camp. If the blueline remains the way it is today, he will almost certainly be the club's seventh defenseman. Either way, Montador may even relieve Geroge Parros as the fourth-line right wing on nights when the convincing fists of "The Stache" are less necessary.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of responses to last week's post, even if most of it was in response to a comment on our GM's performance over the last few years. Speaking of Duck detractors, I welcome all of you to comment, as long as you stay reasonable with your remarks and don't make any personal attacks against other posters. Of course the same applies to everyone else, though I realize things can get pretty crazy on sports forums...
And so - you guessed it - unless any major news breaks between now and next Sunday, I'll see you at the same Duck time, same Duck blog.
Keep on quacking!
(Please make comments in the forum thread!)