Frozen in time, Dustin Penner, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry clutch the Stanley Cup — and each other — in a striking photograph that commands a prime display spot outside the Ducks' Honda Center dressing room.
Six years and many strange turns later, the trio will reunite Thursday for the Ducks' first training camp practice at Anaheim Ice. In experimenting to see if their old bonds hold, Coach Bruce Boudreau will reassemble what was broken when Penner signed a five-year, $21.25-million offer sheet from the Edmonton Oilers in the summer of 2007. That decision began an odyssey in which Penner was traded to the Kings in 2011 and shared in their remarkable 2012 championship run but never recaptured his scoring touch and was sometimes demoted to fourth-line duty or benched.
"I always thought back when I was deciding whether or not to sign the offer sheet, I talked to my agent and I didn't want to leave," Penner said Wednesday after his pre-camp fitness tests at Honda Center.
"It was a long arduous process the last two weeks and he said, 'You know, there's a good chance you'll always end up back here,' and that's kind of the thought that was in the back of my mind when I signed. I think every hockey player thinks his career is going to last long and I was planning on mine lasting longer and somehow working my way back around to getting here again."
The Kings, with many young wingers to develop, lacked the salary-cap space and patience to keep Penner. Ducks General Manager Bob Murray was interested but wanted Getzlaf's advice. Getzlaf called Penner to sound him out "and make sure that's where his head was, wanting to be here. After talking to him I was completely satisfied with that," Getzlaf said. "He knows he's got to prove something this year and get himself back going on a game-by-game basis."
Penner signed a one-year, $2-million contract on July 16, drawing ire from Kings fans he'd charmed with his wit and social media skills. "I didn't know how strong the rivalry was until I crossed over back to the dark or light side, depending on which side of the ledger you're on," he said. "It's pretty interesting and comical."
He's serious about contributing to the Ducks again, whether alongside Getzlaf and Perry or anyone else.
"What's important to me at this stage of my career is just winning," he said. "I want to be one of those guys that can be dependable and accountable for the coaching staff to be put out there not just in a power-play situation but the end of the game, up by one, things like that. You want to be able to be a utility, Swiss-army-knife type thing."
In the first of many "lasts," right wing Teemu Selanne went through preseason fitness testing for the final time. Selanne, 43, plans to retire after this season.
"I'm way more relieved than before because I can enjoy every day," he said. "It was a good decision to just say it right away and just take advantage of every day and enjoy. ... It's going to be fun to know this is the last time as a hockey player in this building or in this city."
Selanne isn't expecting farewell gifts, but he'd accept one present. "New golf clubs because I threw my old ones in the pond," he said, recalling his antics in the video in which he announced his return for this season.
Defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who had reconstructive surgery on his right anterior cruciate ligament on May 16, began skating last week and will practice Thursday but without contact. He played hurt for about six weeks. "It was painful a bit but I didn't take an MRI until the season ended because I was able to play on it," he said. "I didn't think it was that bad." He hopes to play in the Oct. 2 season opener.
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