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So this is the thanks the Anaheim Ducks get for winning the Stanley Cup.

Not only does the NHL send the defending champs on a two-game trip to England, of all places, to open the 2007-08 season, upon their return to North America they immediately embark on a three-game road trip to Detroit, Columbus and Pittsburgh.

Any wonder the Ducks – our choice to repeat as Stanley Cup champions – open the year 1-3-1?

Ask any player and he will tell you there is nothing worse than having to sit through an opponent's opening ceremonies at the start of the year. The Ducks had to sit through three.

I wouldn't blame Anaheim GM Brian Burke if he drags on his own opening ceremonies for about an hour Wednesday when Boston comes to town. Though it's not really the Bruins fault Anaheim got saddled with such a lousy schedule.

Burke, who never misses an opportunity to go down the outspoken path, has been surprisingly quiet where his team's schedule is concerned. He basically said the Ducks were honored to represent the NHL in England as the league tries to broaden its boundaries in terms of popularity. That said, I don't imagine he was thrilled to return from England to three consecutive road games.

The good news for the Ducks is now they are at home for four straight games and perhaps we'll have a better idea of how good a team they are.

In the first five games, it was clear they miss veteran defenseman Scott Niedermayer. The Ducks scored 11 goals, but surrendered 17 and D-men Chris Pronger and Francois Beauchemin were stretched to the limit, each averaging nearly 30 minutes of ice time per game.

Those that make up the NHL schedule take heat from time to time for what seem to be poor decisions.

Sending your defending champ across the ocean for two games and then on a three-game road swing upon their return to America seems to me to fit that category.


Caroline Ouellette

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