What do guys do after hockey? If they’ve won a Stanley Cup, they think about it. A lot. At least, that’s what’s true of the Ducks players who together hoisted the trophy in 2007. Eighteen of them gathered on Sunday to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their win.
They were feted in the arena starting at 4:30 (the game was at 6:30; the ceremony lasted an hour). They answered some softball questions about being a team and all that. Then they descended to the bowels of the arena and talked to the press.
The ceremony, by the way, had analyst and former goalie Bryan Hayward introducing a total of 18 players from the team, including current roster members Getzlaf and Perry, who left before things had wrapped to get ready for the evening’s game. Notable absences that were later revealed to be still keen on the Ducks via video messages: Shawn Thornton, Chris Kunitz, and Francois Beauchemin.
Not here with no explanation: Andy McDonald, Dustin Penner, and Todd Bertuzzi. Also not here: Drew Miller (with Detroit now, but hurt), Ric Jackman, Ryan Carter, Bryan Sutherby, and one or two others.
Here but guys you might have forgotten: Sebastien Caron, and Mark Hartigan. Joe DiPenta. Kent Huskins.
And the stars you knew would be here and were: Selanne, Parros, Giguere, Pronger, Bryzgalov, the Niedermayer brothers, Brad May, Moen, Pahlsson, and more.
It seems hard to believe that this was ten years ago. I still have a suit that I bought for the Finals. Still fits too, but maybe it’s time to give that up. But you know, doing that would be to admit that time is passing, and that’s something that I don’t want to do any more than anyone else.
But enough with the regrets. This is about what these guys are doing now. So in no particular order, here are some reports that tell you some of their secrets. Now, don’t get all excited. It’s not like they revealed any really big secrets, but since the ones who were there have recently or a long time ago retired, they were willing to talk about some things that players don’t typically. And since I was the one asking them the questions that prompted these revelations, I’ll recount them to you here.
Kent Huskins said about how often he thinks of the Cup, “Every day. It still blows my mind to this day. I’m reminded of it daily. It was the pinnacle of my hockey career by a mile. I met my wife during the playoff run, and we’re settled out here now.”
He is starting both a pizza and a coffee business (separately) now, having retired. You might recall that Huskins is a college grad, Business, from Clarkson. So he’s always been interested in the idea of getting something entrepreneurial going. He said, “It took me a while after I stopped playing. This is my second year not playing. I always knew I’d want to start some kind of a business, so I landed on coffee.” He said he’s got screws in both ankles as a reminder of his career, but those are holding out well.
Travis Moen, who did his share of mixing it up over the years, said of the fighting, “It’s part of our role, and it’s what helped me to break into the league and stay in the league. The game’s changed a little bit now, but there’s still some fighting. I don’t think it’s ever going to be completely gone. The intensity between two guys, it’s tough to completely cut out fighting. But it’s not going to be as much. The type of players that are playing now don’t want to fight as much, so it’s going to lessen. But I still like it. To see two guys that are battling, fighting for the puck and sticking up for teammates . . . .”
So how does a guy go from the intensity of a game to the boring sameness of everyday life? Sean O’Donnell commented, “We [he and Moen, standing next to him] were lucky enough to play for a long time. Yeah, you miss it, but you’ve had a good run. It’s not like there’s a little taste and you’d still like to [be playing]. We were fortunate to win a Cup. We both played a lot. We both got beat up, physically, and to be honest, I don’t, I miss the game. I miss the competition, but I miss the camaraderie, the stories, the busting chops. That’s the stuff I really looked forward to. If we had an alumni game, I wouldn’t look forward to that as much as stuff we’re doing right now,” which is to say, doing this alumni evening. “I don’t miss playing all that much. This is the kind of stuff you really miss.”
I turned back to Moen, and asked him how he settled down after an intense game. “You go for dinner, you unwind. You’ve been doing it your whole life and you kind of get used to it. From the age of four or five, you’ve been playing a game and you unwind. Some nights it’s not easy. Like you said, you get in a fight and you get wound up and it’s tough to go to sleep, but I think we’ve figured out ways to wind down after games.”
Regarding the Cup, he said, “It comes to mind a lot. Definitely. You play hockey your whole life. I played hockey for thirty years, and every day, you think about hockey still. It was obviously the biggest hockey moment of my life, winning the Cup. I think about it a lot.” He said he wished he had won the Cup again in Montreal, to see the reaction of the fans, who are so used to winning it. “The history, the famous players still around—these things would have made it amazing to win there,” he indicated.
Moen is in his first winter back in Saskatchewan, and he’s enjoying family time for the first time in a long time. I asked him where he’ll be in a decade, and he said “I’ll still be me, but it’s kind of new to me not playing hockey. I just finished in May, and I only decided about five months ago to stop playing hockey. It’s a little bit different. I don’t know my path yet.” But he has a couple of family businesses, including a farm, that gives him “lots to do.
Moen has a boy playing hockey, but he’s not counting on a draft pick yet. “He’s eight. He’s a good little player, but I want to have him playing to build friendships.”
I think Mike Hartigan was the best on putting the meaning of the Cup into perspective. He said that it wasn’t so much that he thought about it, though he does. He said that it was more that other people reminded him of it all the time. “Everywhere you go, since I live in Canada, Fort McMurray, Alberta—anybody who knows you won a Cup, they want you to talk in schools and stuff. I do all of that, and so I typically get to talk about it and think about it a lot. It comes up a lot. It’s one of those things that will stay with you for life.”
He has three kids, and he’s working in real estate with his brother and sister. He also helps support his wife in her interior design business. He said that his body, “Took its biggest beating when I went and played in the KHL for three years. I don’t know if the care is really the same over there.” He also played with, and won a Cup with, the Red Wings in 2007-08.
Caron is in Wilkes Barre PA, working with a friend in construction, but he’s just finished hockey, having played in Europe until this year. “I’m having fun. I think of the Cup whenever I go back to my bar, because my jersey’s right there,” he laughed. He played last year in Germany, but he didn’t want to go back to Europe this year. “My kid’s school, he didn’t want to move. It’s hard to find a school. They go to the international school, but when they get back, it’s all screwed up.”
Each of these guys wears his ring from time to time, special occasions. Hartigan said, “On suit occasions, galas and stuff. People want to see them. I take them to schools and let the kids see them, minor hockey. Banquets. That keeps me really busy. Everybody loves to see the rings.” Caron said, “Whenever we hit the town, special occasions.”
Tomorrow: Part Two, including your favorite Duck–Giguere.