Ducks Turning on Glitz for Opener : Sports: Lockout-halted season takes ice Monday at The Pond. Disney pals and others will entertain.
Amid the glitter and sparkle of the Mighty Ducks’ first home game, fans who may not know “icing” from “high-sticking” will get an assist from vintage Disney characters.
Throughout Duck games, Disney cartoon characters periodically will animate the Pond’s Jumbotron to demonstrate the rules and finer points of hockey.
The new learning program will debut, along with another still-secret, elaborate inaugural show, Monday night as the Ducks take on the Edmonton Oilers in the home opener of a season shortened by the player lockout.
“One of our company goals is to educate fans on the game of hockey itself and its rich tradition,” said Ducks spokesman Bill Robertson. “We want to concentrate more on the game this year.”
Because of the sudden ending to the 103-day lockout earlier this month, organizers have only had about 10 days to prepare a suitable sequel to rival last year’s colorful and loud program.
“The show is our way of thanking the fans for sticking with us during the work stoppage,” Robertson said.
Officials, however, were tight-lipped about Monday’s special 20-minute program.
“We are trying to keep it mysterious for fans,” said Robertson. “We want to heighten their sense of anticipation.”
But officials did say new laser-generated imagery and another boisterous entrance by team mascot Wild Wing will be the highlights in the opening celebration. Last year, Wild Wing flew down from the rafters, drawing wild applause from the sellout crowd of more than 17,000.
Also, the opening show will showcase the new and improved Decoys, the Ducks’ cheerleaders. The pep squad’s skates have been retired, and this year they will perform more “precision” dancing.
“It’s going to be very, very, high energy,” said Cheryl Benson, the Ducks’ new entertainment director.
Officials would not disclose the amount spent on the opening show, but last year’s production cost about $450,000.
Ducks officials are hoping the sendup uplifts the Ducks, too. Last year, after the glitzy opening show, the Ducks lost to the Detroit Red Wings, 7-2.
But win or lose, Ducks officials say the main aim is fan enjoyment.
“We can’t control the wins, the losses and ties, but we can control the total entertainment package in the building,” Robertson said.
“We want the fans walking away feeling they got their money’s worth.”