For the Ducks, the benefits of having a wealth of players participating in the Olympics extend beyond organizational pride.
Anaheim’s eight Olympians are considered non-roster players by the NHL until after their national team is eliminated in Vancouver. That means that goaltender Jonas Hiller, whose Swiss squad lost to the United States on Wednesday, became the first to officially re-join the Ducks – the league added him to the active roster at 2 p.m. today.
Ryan Getzlaf, Scott Niedermayer, Corey Perry, Saku Koivu, Teemu Selanne, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Whitney, meanwhile, are giving Randy Carlyle and Bob Murray some vacant roster spots to play with until they’re gone from the Games.
On Thursday it was announced that Dan Sexton, Timo Pielmeier, Brendan Mikkelson and Brett Festerling had been recalled from the minors, and both Sexton and Pielmeier were among the 16 players in practice Thursday. Mikkelson and Festerling were still en route from Toronto, where they had been playing with the American Hockey League’s Marlies.
“This is when the NHL-level team, the parent hockey club, has to be
selfish,” said Carlyle, who expected no additional recalls. “I’ve been on the other side of it and it’s not a lot of fun
when those things happen. But the reality of it is, we made a decision
that’s in the best interest of the Anaheim Ducks. They can come
complement us in this time.”
As for the four youngsters, they are more than just extra bodies for practice.
“It’s an opportunity to get Dan Sexton back into the NHL playing on a
roster,” Carlyle said. “It’s an opportunity for Brett Festerling to come back. It’s an
opportunity for Brendan Mikkelson to possibly stay with our hockey
club. These are opportunities.”
Sexton was expected to be back – Murray said as much – after he was returned to Manitoba on Jan. 31.
“I appreciated the support from him saying that, but at the same time I wasn’t going to take it for granted and not work hard down there,” said Sexton, who had four goals and nine points in eight games with the Moose in February. “I was really pleased with the way things went there (in Winnipeg). It gave me that much more confidence that I can play at that level and still be successful and at the same time be successful here. It was kind of a test for myself.”
Pielmeier had not practiced with the Ducks since training camp. He’s spent the entire season with Bakersfield, initially as the backup to Justin Pogge, then as the starter for 29 of the Condors’ last 31 games since Pogge was promoted to the American Hockey League.
His reaction to joining the Ducks was understandable: “it’s good to be back to get some experience – and to get a little break from the games.”
Pielmeier and Vesa Toskala were the goalies in practice Thursday. Feeling that Hiller could use the rest, Carlyle said that he spoke with the goalie by phone last night and told him to be ready to practice Sunday.
NHL teams were allowed to resume organized practices at 2 p.m. Wednesday but Carlyle said there was no rush – the Ducks don’t play a game until next Wednesday, when they host Colorado.