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PHT Time Machine: The Mighty Ducks and the most insane pregame intro ever

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Throughout the season we will be taking an occasional look back at some significant moments in NHL history. This is the PHT Time Machine. Today we look back at the first game of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and their insane entrance into the NHL.

This season the Anaheim Ducks are celebrating their 25th anniversary, with their home opener on Monday night (a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings — the team they played in their first game) coming exactly 25 years to the day of their debut.

And what a trip that first ever game was.

Over at the Athletic this week (subscription required)  Lisa Dillman, Eric Stephens and Joshua Cooper compiled an oral history on the birth of the Ducks franchise.

Among all of the stories was a video of that first game and the on-ice ceremony that preceded it.

We need to talk about this ceremony a little more because even the Vegas Golden Knights, present day champions of the over-the-top pre-game show, would have looked at this and said “hey folks … let’s tone this down a few notches.”

The Background

The Ducks’ entrance to the NHL was part of the NHL’s expansion boom in the early 1990s that saw the league go from 21 teams to 26 between 1991 and 1994, with San Jose, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Florida, and Anaheim itself all entering the league. This era set the stage for yet another expansion surge a decade later when Atlanta, Nashville, Columbus, and Minnesota all entered the league.

The Ducks and Panthers were the two teams that entered the league for the start of the 1993-94 season.

What made the Ducks such a unique story is that they were basically a massive hollywood creation masquerading as a hockey team. At least at first. They were originally owned by the Walt Disney Corporation, were set to play their games in the shadows of Disneyland, and were named (originally called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim) after the hit 1992 Disney movie, The Mighty Ducks.

When all of those storylines met for the team’s first game, things got weird. Really weird.

The Introduction

First, the video. It is 14 minutes long and while I would highly recommend watching every second of it, do not worry if you are short on time at the moment because we are going to analyze the key moments for you.

0:15 -1:30: The whole thing begins with Lumière, the anthropomorphic talking candlestick from Beauty and the Beast, welcoming hockey fans to the Pond for “a new era of sports entertainment.”

He was not kidding, man.

From there, a Disney on Ice show breaks out with a cover version of the song “Be Our Guest” that includes the lyrics:

“Be our guest, be our guest, yes Ducks season has come (inaudible), tie a bird call ’round your neck my friends and we’ll provide the rest.”

And then later…

“Make it loud, stomp your feet, Mighty Ducks we can’t be beat.
Catch the spirit it’s outrageous tell a friend that it’s contagious.
We can skate, we can score, you keep coming back for more cuz the hockey here is never second best.”

1:24-4:09: From there, “The Decoys” get introduced to a more rock version of “Be Our Guest.” And what were The Decoys? They appear to be the introduction to the regrettable and exploitive “ice girls” era in the NHL.

They perform an elaborate choreographed ice for nearly three full minutes before the real star of the show arrives.

4:10-6:54: The arena goes dark.

Some sort of futuristic zamboni-type machine makes its way on the ice. Eerie, ominous music begins to be pumped in. The narrator speaks: “From the depths of the pond … the mighty ice man cometh.”

A silver-painted, guitar-wielding, vocal-chord shredding maniac climbs to the top of the car and attempts to hype up the crowd while Gary Glitter’s Rock And Roll Part 2 blasts throughout the arena.

(As a quick aside: After seeing this I am now one million percent convinced that the IceMan was the inspiration for Charlie Kelly’s “Nightman Cometh” in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Tell me I’m wrong.)

The IceMan, for what it worth, was a spectacular failure and did not even make it through the first game, as delightfully noted by The Detroit Free Press:

There is not, at least based on my searches of the Internet, any video or audio of his rendition of Twist and Shout.

The OC Register profiled the man behind The IceMan back in 2014 when the team celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Anyway, back to this high-priced production…

6:55-9:04: After two minutes of this, it is time to meet the Mighty Ducks’ mascot (no, the IceMan was not the mascot).

It is then that Wild Wing descends from the rafters.

Upon reaching the ice, Wild Wing goes into a two minute ice-dance to the tune of some Ducks themed arena rock song while the scoreboard implores fans to “Rock the Pond.”

Meanwhile, the IceMan makes his return to attempt to hype up the crowd one more time in advance of the formal introductions of the roster, led by goalies Ron Tugnutt and Guy Hebert.

9:04-11:40: The rest of the roster is introduced.

11:41-12:40: There are approximately 240 people skating around the ice, while Wild Wing takes his position on top of a podium at center and plays air guitar with a goalie stick that suddenly begins shooting flames into the air.

(This would be Wild Wing’s most successful attempt to play with fire, having later in his existence tripped and fell into a ring of fire while attempting to jump through it).

The Aftermath

The Ducks went on to lose that season opening game to the Detroit Red Wings by a 7-2 margin, but were we are 25 years later and the team (now just known as the Anaheim Ducks — the whole Mighty Ducks of Anaheim thing was scrapped following the 2005-06 season) is still going strong.

They were reasonably successful in year one (by expansion team standards), winning 33 games and then making the playoffs for the first time in their fourth year of existence. In the two decades since they have been a consistent playoff team, played in two Stanley Cup Finals, and won the whole thing during the 2006-07 season.

Previous PHT Time Machines:
 Remembering the Jaromir Jagr Trade Nobody Won
• When the Blues skipped the NHL draft

 Expansion teams build Montreal dynasty
 The 1991 Dispersal Draft and Birth of the San Jose Sharks
The Eric Lindros Trade That Did Not Happen

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Buzzer: Vatrano helps Panthers win sixth in a row; Dodgeball ‘Storm Surge’

Vatrano hat trick Panthers six in a row Buzzer
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Three Stars

 1. Frank Vatrano, Florida Panthers

The Lightning understandably drew a ton of attention for their rise up the rankings. Should we give their in-state neighbors some love, too? Consider the Panthers’ winning run, which cued up nicely with Joel Quenneville’s return to Chicago:

  • The Panthers keep overcoming mostly hit-or-miss (and sometimes hit by injuries) goaltending by scoring, a lot. Tuesday’s 4-3 win against the Blackhawks marks Florida’s sixth win in a row. They’ve scored at least four goals in every game during that streak.
  • The Panthers’ strong play extends beyond this streak. Florida carried a strong 13-4-0 run in its last 17 games.
  • They closed off a three-game road trip, all with wins. They return with another three-game road trip (so technically, it’s six in a row on the road). If they stand strong after this stretch, it would be quite a testament to what Coach Q & Co. are building.

Vatrano caught fire during this six-game winning streak. Tuesday represents the peak of that run, as the winger generated his second NHL hat trick. Vatrano also extended his point streak to five games (five goals, four assists for nine points).

He showed flashes of brilliance in Boston, and has largely converted that into a solid niche with Florida. Vatrano quietly scored 24 goals and 39 points last season. Tuesday’s outburst places Vatrano at 14 goals and 27 points for 2019-20.

Florida needed all three of Vatrano’s goals, as his third ended up being the game-winner. The Panthers were up as much as 3-0 and 4-1, so Chicago fought back, but not enough.

Count Mike Hoffman as one of the other Panthers who are scoring up a storm.

2. Josh Bailey/Thomas Greiss, New York Islanders

The Rangers generated a massive 42-18 shots on goal advantage on Tuesday, but the Islanders held on for a 4-2 win. Getting outchanced like that remains a cause for concern, but Griess bailed the Isles out with 40 saves.

(Quick thought: is it possible Barry Trotz needs to loosen up when the Islanders hold leads? They lost after coughing up a big one against Washington, and almost invited the Rangers to creep back in on Tuesday.)

Bailey generated three points (1G, 2A), so maybe you’d call him the bigger star over Greiss?

3. Teuvo Teravainen, Carolina Hurricanes

Justin WIlliams continues to make an early impact for Carolina. After producing the shootout-deciding goal in his return, Williams fired in two goals on Tuesday. Not bad, considering his modest 11:45 time on ice.

Teravainen gets the overall edge, though. Like Bailey, Teravainen scored a goal and two assists for three points. The shifty Finn is backing up last season’s almost point-per-game play (76 points in 82 GP), with similar results (48 points in 50 GP).

Andrei Svechnikov demands a mention of his own. The splendid sophomore collected two assists, placing Svechnikov close behind Teravainen with 45 points in 50 GP.

Kreider replaces Panarin at All-Star Game

The Rangers played without Artemi Panarin thanks to an injury. It appears that they’ll have a different All-Star Game representative, as Chris Kreider will replace him.

Another fun Storm Surge

If you can block a shot, you can dodge a ball?

Feisty Scheifele

The Jets are struggling, and thus Mark Scheifele is taking no guff.

Factoids

Scores

BOS 3 – VGK 2
NYI 4 – NYR 2
CAR 4 – WPG 1
PHI 3 – PIT 0
FLA 4 – CHI 3

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Flyers blank Penguins, keep pace in playoff race

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The Flyers need to make the most of each game to stay in the playoff race. Philadelphia’s 3-0 win against the Penguins wasn’t pretty — except where it needed to be.

Flyers hang in the playoff race

Actually, from a defensive standpoint, it was pristine. Brian Elliott only needed to make 19 saves for his first shutout of 2019-20. The Flyers asserted overall, generating a 30-19 shots on goal advantage.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin managed just three SOG in this one. Both teams eye the All-Star break, so maybe there was the hockey equivalent of “Senioritis.” Philly hit the books enough to get the shutout, though.

An empty-net goal exaggerated the score, but 3-0 felt fitting for how well Philadelphia played. Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk scored all of the goals the Flyers needed, while Justin Braun iced it with the ENG.

The Flyers improved their record to 27-17-6 (60 standings points in 50 games played). The bad news is that, if the playoffs began today, the Flyers would be out. The better news is that Philly didn’t lose ground in what could be tight races for the final East wild-card spots. The Hurricanes won their Tuesday game, so Philly risked losing ground:

Flyers playoff race
via NHL.com

Flyers, Penguins have been playing well lately

Again, the Penguins failed to impress in this one. They were the schoolkids staring at the clock at the end of class.

The Flyers earned this win, even if it was the equivalent to providing a boring lecture (or clogging passing lanes). Alain Vigneault’s group won four of its last five games.

Overall, the Penguins have been loading up points. This loss ended a two-game winning streak, and Pittsburgh is now 6-2-0 in its last eight.

The Penguins and Flyers meet again in Pittsburgh when their schedules resume. Maybe they’ll have to share reports about how they spent their All-Star breaks/summer vacations?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Blackhawks welcome back Quenneville; celebrate Kane’s 1,000th point

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The Panthers are playing in Chicago on Tuesday, which means the Blackhawks got a chance to welcome back Joel Quenneville. Coach Q enjoyed an added reason to smile, as the team also honored Patrick Kane hitting the 1,000-point plateau.

The Blackhawks shared some Quenneville stats in welcoming him back and remembering the good times:

  • Chicago made nine playoff appearances under Coach Q, winning 76 postseason contests. Oh yeah, they also won three Stanley Cups with Quenneville. Sort of relevant too.
  • Quenneville clearly enjoyed himself in celebrating the victories, in the locker room and during parades.
  • He yelled more than a bit, as the video captured.

Tough to blame Quenneville for being all smiles, right?

Again, the Blackhawks celebrated Kane’s milestone as well:

Not enough #CoachQcontent for you? NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis caught up with Quenneville for this Q&A.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Flyers host Penguins on NBCSN

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Tuesday’s matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Penguins travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers in the second of four meetings between the two clubs this season. The Pens dominated the first meeting on home ice back on Oct. 29, defeating their cross-state rival, 7-1. Sidney Crosby tallied a goal and two assists, while Matt Murray stopped 29 of 30 shots to secure the victory.

These teams will meet Tuesday night in Philly and then again 10 days later in Pittsburgh on Jan. 31 as part of a home and home series that bookends both the All-Star weekend as well as both teams bye weeks.

Pittsburgh is coming off a 4-3 win at home over the defending Eastern Conference champion Bruins on Sunday afternoon. Matt Murray surrendered two goals on the first three shots that he faced and was jeered by the home crowd. David Pastrnak then increased the lead to three with just under five minutes to play in the opening period by netting his league-leading 37th tally of the season, although Jack Johnson inadvertently redirected the puck into his own net. Dominik Simon cut the lead to two 1:27 later on a nice pass from Sidney Crosby from behind the and then Crosby added another helper just 33 seconds into the second period on a pretty between-the- legs pass to Teddy Blueger. Jack Johnson (shorthanded) and Bryan Rust each scored in the third period to help claim the comeback win.

The Flyers continued their winning ways at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night, defeating the Kings 4-1. All-Star Travis Konecny recorded two goals to help pace Philly, while Brian Elliott stopped 34 of 35 shots to capture his 11th win of the season.

After losing to the Canadiens last Thursday, Alain Vigneault switched up the lines Saturday against Los Angeles. Claude Giroux was flanked by James van Riemsdyk and Konecny and the line shakeup appeared to be a success. The Alphabet Soup line, commonly known as JVR, G and TK, respectively, combined to total seven points, while van Riemsdyk tallied his second three-point game of the season and snapped a 12-game goal drought in the 4-1 win.

[COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN]

WHAT: Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers
WHERE: Wells Fargo Center
WHEN: Tuesday, Jan. 21, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Flyers-Penguins stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

FLYERS
Joel FarabeeSean CouturierJakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk – Claude Giroux – Travis Konecny
Scott LaughtonKevin HayesNicolas Aube-Kubel
German Rubtsov – Connor BunnamanTyler Pitlick

Ivan ProvorovMatt Niskanen
Travis SanheimPhilippe Myers
Robert HaggJustin Braun

Starting goalie: Brian Elliott

PENGUINS
Dominik Simon – Sidney Crosby – Patric Hornqvist
Jared McCannEvgeni Malkin – Bryan Rust
Zach Aston-Reese – Teddy Blueger – Brandon Tanev
Alex GalchenyukAndrew Agozzino – Joseph Blandisi

Jack Johnson – Kris Letang
Marcus PetterssonJohn Marino
Juuso RiikolaChad Ruhwedel

Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry

Gord Miller, Mike Milbury and AJ Mleczko will have the call from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. ET, hosted by Kathryn Tappen and analysts Keith Jones and Ben Lovejoy.