As is tradition here at Battle of California whenever two teams from the best state in the union face off against each other, today's game posts have a theme behind them. Today's theme honors those who came before us.
When Mr. Megalodon first begged me to come and write for his two-bit hockey website ("it'll finally lend us some credibility!" he pleaded), I was a bit hesitant. Sure, it'd be easy to do with my finely-honed writing skills and deep hockey insight, and it would be nice to help out a small, struggling blog. But that small blog had a rabid, cult-like following, and they held the Ducks writer who came before me on a high pedestal.
Yes, Battle of California readers loved Anaheim Ducks superfan Rudy Kelly.
Rudy Kelly (whose pen name is actually a clever play on the name of one-time former Duck Rod Pelly) was born in 1993, just like the franchise he so loves. He has lived his entire life in Orange County, and has a strong affinity for the region and its people. As a kid, if he wasn't to be found at a Mighty Ducks or Angels game, he was joyously spinning around on the Teacup Ride at Disneyland.
Speaking of Disneyland, it was actually his love of Disney that first drew him to what would become his lifelong passion. Though he missed the first film, D2: The Mighty Ducks first exposed a young Rudy to the world of sports and muscular men on ice, and there was no looking back.
Rudy has always said that the highlight of his life has been watching game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals as a 14 year old boy (in his bedroom with his pet cat, cats being his most favorite animals in the world), and watching his idol Chris Pronger raise the Cup high above his head after the Ducks' victory. He recalls fondly the cup later being passed to a young rookie who Rudy knew instantly would be the future of the franchise, and began to model his everyday life after this young man. The influence of this new hero, Corey Perry, has been apparent throughout the course of Rudy's life ever since, and there is no one who really embodies the spirit of Corey Perry more so than Rudy Kelly.
When I interviewed Rudy Kelly for this article, I knew beforehand that the Ducks' Stanley Cup champiomship would be one of his foundest memories. Likewise, I wasn't at all surprised to hear about the excitement that he still feels today towards his attendance at the 2010 NHL entry draft in Los Angeles.
"It was the first time I ever stepped foot in Staples Center. The only time, actually! That place is a real shit hole," Rudy laughed. "But it was still magical. I remember when the Ducks selected Cam Fowler with their first pick, I was so excited! I was cheering so loudly that I just about lost my voice! I had such high expectations for our new defensman, but Fowler sure delivered! He is without question, in my opinion, the best defensive player in the game today."
So as you can see, following in Rudy's footsteps has been no easy task. But, with any luck, dear reader, you will let me be the Cam Fowler to your Rudy Kelly, and cheer me along as I live up to your high hopes.
Thank you, Rudy Kelly. You're the best fan the Anaheim Ducks have ever had.
SBNation's game preview widget will never work again and all is lost. But here's some info about tonight's game:
Los Angeles Kings
With the division championship clinched and essentially nothing on the line (the Ducks have even clinched bragging rights for the Freeway Face-off this season, Rudy reminds me, having already dominated the Kings 3-0-1 so far), I don't expect much of an effort from Anaheim for this game, and I can't say I give a shit.
Rudy will be pretty bummed out if the Ducks lose though, so I hope they pull it off for him.