Little pond hockey for Ducks

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

The Anaheim Mighty Ducks headed for the great outdoors yesterday.

Since The Pond -- as in Arrowhead -- they play on in sunny California isn't outdoors, the Ducks hit the ice on the Rideau Canal for an informal game of shinny and they didn't even bring their pucks.

With a lunch-hour crowd of close to 500 on hand, the Ducks went through their paces using tennis balls as the temperature hovered around -18C with the windchill.

Trying to promote team togetherness -- or longjohn wearing -- Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle even had goalie J.S. Giguere playing forward as the club prepares to play the Senators tomorrow at the old Corel Centre -- renamed Scotiabank Place last week.

JIGGY NETS A GOAL

"Everyday when I was a kid I skated at the outdoor rink near my home (in Blainville, Que.)," said Giguere. "(Yesterday) was great and it was nice to get an opportunity to score some goals. I had a lot of chances and I was finally able to get one."

The Ducks aren't the first team to practise outdoors here. A few years ago, the Senators held a practice on a makeshift rink at Dow's Lake and the Vancouver Canucks, whose GM was Brian Burke at the time and now the Ducks GM, also used an outdoor rink during a visit here.

The Ducks, who arrived in Ottawa following a 4-3 loss in overtime to the Bruins in Boston on Monday, will practise indoors today.

OLD FRIENDS IN TOWN: The faces on the visitors' bench will be familiar to Senators coach Bryan Murray. While it has been 19 months since Murray left his post as GM of the Ducks, he hasn't had a chance to see many of the players he left behind. But Murray didn't leave the Ducks because he didn't like it in Anaheim. He left because Senators GM John Muckler offered him a chance to win a Stanley Cup with a team that is near his home town of Shawville. "I wouldn't have left to go anywhere else. This was the only place that I would have come (to) and I was excited about the opportunity to get back behind the bench," said Murray. "I had a chance to come home and spend time close to a lot of my family. Plus, this team has a great chance to win the Stanley Cup and I felt like at this point of my career this was going to be a good challenge for me." Murray, 62, spent three seasons with the Ducks. He was originally hired to be Anaheim's coach, but once the organization tired of GM Pierre Gauthier, the Ducks gave him the boot and promoted Murray to the top spot. He had plenty of success with Anaheim -- including a trip to the Stanley Cup final vs. New Jersey in 2002-03, which the Devils won in seven games. When Murray left the Ducks, he knew the club was planning to shed salary and it has. Gone are the likes of W Petr Sykora (Rangers), C Sergei Fedorov (Blue Jackets) and C Vaclav Prospal (Lightning). "From what I've seen, some of the young players who we planned to have in a couple of years like (Ryan) Getzlaf and Corey Perry are already in the lineup," said Murray.

DISCUSSIONS STARTED: The Senators have held talks with the agents for pending unrestricted free-agent Ds Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden. It's expected discussions to re-sign the pair will heat up in the next few weeks because Muckler has made it clear he'd like to keep them both. Whether the duo will sign before they can shop themselves around July 1 is unclear, but the Senators are going to make every effort to keep them around. "I know right now the focus for (Chara) is on winning the Stanley Cup. We've had some talks and we're going to continue to talk," said Chara's agent Matt Keator. It's believed Muckler spoke briefly with Redden's agent Don Meehan during the world junior championships earlier this month in Vancouver and the sides agreed to speak more seriously.


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