Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Anaheim Ducks at Practice


          Unfortunately with the NHL lockout still in place, being able to graph hockey has been very difficult here in Southern California. Most players are staying on the East coast or in their native countries leaving us graphers with a very rough season. Luckily I came across some tweets from 3 Anaheim Ducks players that some of the players had been practicing at Anaheim Ice, the official ice rink of the Ducks. At first I was skeptical about how many players would show up and if they would sign or not, but the day before I was going to head out to the rinks, my buddy Scotty called me saying in 15 minutes he got Bobby Ryan, Saku Koivu and Francois Beauchimen. The call didn't only confirm my suspicions, but it made me anxious to go out and try to graph some hockey.
          
          I arrived at the practice facility shortly after 9:00 am and quickly met up with Scotty and my other friends Ken and Ken Cr., if you don't know these guys then you are not a true So-Cal grapher, these are two of the hardest-core guys you will ever meet and I'm sure you have encountered them somewhere. Anyways within five minutes of arriving, Saku Koivu pulled up in a beautiful white Mercedes and came over to sign for us. Saku was very nice and talkative and was kind enough to sign two 8x10's as well as four cards for my mom who I brought along for some help.


          After Saku came in defender Francois Beauchimen pulled in and signed for us. I got the front-liner and former Stanley Cup Champion on a 2012 SCORE card as well as my Ducks logo puck as seen below.


          Then Luca Sbisa, or so we thought came in. The player looked like Luca in his sunglasses, I asked for him to come over and about 10 feet away from us he took off his glasses and I realized that it wasn't Sbisa! I told him I was sorry and told him he looked similar to Luca, at that point I had no idea who he was until he said, "Oh no, I'm Staubitz". Luckily I had two Staubitz cards in my book and asked him if he could sign them. He was very cool and told me that Teemu Selanne said the same thing to him tthe other day, which made me feel better knowing that it wasn't a complete butcher.


          After that Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf came in. Getzlaf is known to be one of the few guys on the team that isn't a great signer or a really cool dude, but he came over and was very nice talking to us and even getting a few laughs in here or there. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice Ryan was to us and was able to get him on two cards (one from me and one from my mom). The one card bubbled fairly badly which shocked me being that I prepped the card and had had no problems with that type of card before, I guess the way they hold the pen or sign the card could make it bubble?!?!


          Then came the biggest surprise of the day. Teemu Selanne rolled up in a Audi and came over to sign for us. One of my main goals this year was to get the "Finish Flash" being that this would probably be his last year in the NHL, but the lockout has kept me from doing so and I was worried that the future HOF'er would retire if the entire season is skipped, which is a high possibility. Anyways Teemu came over and signed a Ducks logo puck for me as well as an 8x10 for my mom. You can see in one of the photos two signed cards by Teemu, I got those after practice when Teemu walked out and signed again for us. 



          Before Teemu could even finish signing, Bobby Ryan came over and started signing for us four as well. Bobby is one of the classiest guys you will ever meet. He practically signs anything and everything you have and has no problem doing so as long as you are a Ducks fan. Bobby also carries on a major conversation with everyone as he signs even waiting a few minutes after he finished up signing just to finish our conversation. One of my favorite things Bobby said was when I told him that I usually graph baseball players and how they usually don't even pay attention to us and he said, "Honestly I don't do this {sign} to often on the road but at home I know you guys are fans so it's a pleasure to sign for you guys," even adding later that, "That's why I keep getting you guys because I know you are the fans". Bobby signed 12 cards, yes 12, and a puck however since he came over right after Teemu, I didn't have time to re-prep my DECO paint pen and it wouldn't write well on the puck, Bobby tried re-shaking it but it was too late and the puck didn't come out too good.


          The final guy to come in was goalie Jonas Hiller, Hiller signed three cards for me as well as an 8x10 for my mom. I also was able to get a photo with Ducks d-man Toni Lydman since I didn't have anything for him to sign but didn't upload it onto my computer.


          I did stay after practice but only got Teemu Selanne (as mentioned above) since all of the other guys already signed everything I needed. Bobby Ryan also came over to finish up a few cards for Scotty and Ken Jr. but he had already done everything I had so I just talked to him for a few minutes as he was signing away. Overall it was a VERY successful day of graphing. I absolutely love graphing hockey since it is so much different than baseball. Anymore some of these baseball players, actually most of them now, get huge heads and seem to forget that we are humans just like them, but in hockey almost every player is friendly and is pleasant about signing.

          I ended up coming away with 25 signed cards, 4 signed 8x10's and 3 signed pucks in about three and a half hours. Most of the time to come remotely close to those numbers in baseball you would have to wait 7-10 hours pregame and possibly a couple of hours post-game as well, not including the 3+ hour game in between. I would like to give a shout-out to my graphing friends Scotty, Ken Jr. and Ken Cr. who made the day very entertaining. The Ducks don't actually practice like this very often and they don't have any dates set so really I wouldn't recommend you going and if you do don't be dissapointed if not one player shows up. It sounds like they practice mostly on Mondays and Tuesdays so those days might be the best time to try. Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your day!

6 comments:

  1. Wow, that's quite a score. I usually do my Hockey graphing through the mail. I've never graphed outside Nassau Coliseum or The Rock in Jersey.

    I need a Selanne on a puck as well for my 500 goal scorers PC I'm working on. Hope there is hockey so I can try when the Ducks come to NYC.

    Btw, how are they able to practice? I thought the lockout kept them out of the offical rinks?

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    1. Yeah, I thought the same thing to. I expected 3 or 4 players to show up but it ended up being the entire team besides Perry, Fowler, Sbisa and Sourray doing a practice. I did notice however that while they were practicing they were wearing NHLPA jerseys instead of the regular practice jerseys. During the regular season the Ducks practice at Honda Center so maybe since that is a NHL arena they can't practice there but Anaheim Ice is owned by the Ducks so maybe that isn't considered a "offical" NHL rink. And if there is hockey I can guarentee you will get Teemu, a class act and signs everyday!

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  2. Great job Matt! I'm not a big hockey fan, but that seems like it would be a lot of fun. I wonder if any of the Kings are training like this.

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    1. I don't know. I know they practice at the same facility as the Lakers and that place is super hard to get autographs at because it is behind a big brick was and like 2 fences. At Anaheim Ice there was about 40 parking spaces between two automatic rod-iron fences so it is very easy to get autos at unlike the Kings facility.

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  3. Good stuff Matt. Hockey is by far the easiest sport to graph. I went once with Benson last year at the Honda Center and we racked up. If I do graph the Ducks this year I plan to just get photos done.

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  4. If you do graph hockey go buy the 2011 and 2012 SCORE hockey Ducks team sets. SCORE has the most cards of any set and are super cheap to buy. You could pry pick up the team sett for both years for $8 on Ebay plus there are like 18 cards in each set. For big players like Perry, Selanne, Ryan, Getzlaf, etc. go with photos but the lower players have SCORE cards so you don't have to waste photos!

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