IRVINE — Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek said there is “no rush” to name a new captain to fill the vacancy created by Ryan Getzlaf’s retirement.
“We’re just going to let the room sort itself out – let leaders emerge,” Verbeek said Thursday on the first day of training camp at Great Park Ice. “I think we’ve got a nice combination of older players, veterans and younger guys. Ultimately, I think the room will sort itself out.
“When we name a captain, it’s going to be the right guy. And it’s going to be a guy that we plan on being here for a long time.”
Said defenseman Cam Fowler, now the longest-tenured player in the organization: “It’s going to be a collective thing. Anytime you lose someone like (Getzlaf), such a big part of the franchise for so long, it only makes sense.
“It’s not a position that can be filled right away. It’s going to take a little bit of time. It’s up to us – guys that have been around a little bit – to help the new wave.”
Captaining by committee is hardly unprecedented.
Vegas, in fact, played three seasons before naming Mark Stone as its first captain. But it is a different wrinkle in Anaheim – at least on a long-term basis – and a new look, given Getzlaf’s long tenure and influence.
“Ryan was the captain here for a dozen years,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “He was an excellent captain and he was a massive influence on everything our players did and a lot of things we did as a team. Even though we lost him at the end of the season, we haven’t been around each other since then. For me, we lost Ryan today.
“I have no questions about our leadership in that room. We have guys who have been around who are just unbelievable, excellent human beings that think about their teammates first.”
Eakins later added, “It’s not something I’m losing one minute of sleep over.”
So what is making him lose sleep?
“Nothing yet,” he said. “The key word is ‘yet.’ It’s what coaches do. We worry. You wake up and you worry. … We usually have 23 sons in there. Right now we’ve got 60 (players).”
TAKES FROM VERBEEK
The Ducks are in that hard-to-define phase of evolution as an organization.
“I would say it’s not like a total rebuild,” Verbeek said. “I think we’re a team in transition in the sense that younger players are starting to emerge or starting to take bigger roles on the team.
“Like I said before, being flexible to all situations is probably best at this time.”
Flexibility extending to the salary cap will be vital. Forwards Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras and defenseman Jamie Drysdale, all in the last year of their contracts, could be in line for meaningful raises if all goes well.
“I hope they take it to another level,” Verbeek said. “We’re going to need them to take it to another level. The hardest thing about coming in here … when teams start to know who you are. It’s not easier. It’s harder. I think they understand that.”
Regarding the trio, contract negotiations will come after the season, not during it, Verbeek said.
“That way the players don’t have a distraction,” he said. “It gives the players the full year to concentrate on playing hockey. Then, at the appropriate time, we’ll talk with the agents and do what we’ve got to do.
“I look back to when I was a player. You go through the whole situation. There’s nothing worse than players thinking about their contract. Nothing worse than it being a distraction. I just want the players to concentrate. I may talk to the agents over the course of the season. When it comes down to it, this stuff won’t get done till the end of the season.”
The first day of training camp with the Ducks had to be a bit surreal for defenseman John Klingberg, who had played all of his eight seasons in the NHL with the Dallas Stars. Klingberg signed a one-year, $7 million contract with the Ducks on July 29 and has been in town since mid-August.
“Obviously, a little nervous coming in here today,” he said. “I’ve been skating for a little bit, for two months now, but when camp starts, it’s a little bit different. Actually, it feels good to get going now.”
Said Verbeek: “He can really handle the puck. He distributes it well. He’s very good on the power play. He’s mobile. He’s going to help the offense from the back end, joining the rush. I think we’re going to have different options coming up the ice that we probably didn’t have as much of as before.
“I look at John as being a great example for Jamie Drysdale, for Jamie to learn a lot of things. So there’s a lot of positive things John Klingberg is going to bring to the hockey team.”
On Day 1, Klingberg skated alongside prospect Olen Zellweger.
“Obviously, I didn’t know much about him before I signed,” Klingberg said. “I watched the World Juniors a little bit – I like watching hockey – so he was really good. A great skater. He’s got the vision and he’s very smart.
“He’s going to be a great player for this organization. He’s still young, but he’s not afraid out there. He wants the puck – he’s screaming for the puck – that’s what you want to see.”
And yes, there was a rationale behind the pairing with Zellweger.
“That’s a great opportunity for Zell to learn from a real high-end professional guy,” Eakins said. “A real comfort for everybody in our organization to have a guy like Klingberg around.”