Can a player become a fan favorite even if he hasn't played one game before those fans? After a start to his Ducks career that he could only dream about, Dan Winnik might know the answer soon. "I guess we'll find out Friday," Winnik said with a sheepish grin. The Ducks returned home early Tuesday morning on the wings of the soaring Winnik, who should get quite the reception when he is introduced to the Honda Center faithful for Friday night's home opener against Vancouver. No other player in franchise history has started his career with the Ducks by scoring two goals in each of his first two games. Not Paul Kariya. Not Teemu Selanne. With just 37 goals over his five previous NHL seasons, Winnik appeared to be a bit embarrassed by his current spot atop the league. Asked if he'll keep pace with Chicago's Marian Hossa, he simply said, "No. He'll pull away." There is no question that the former University of New Hampshire player has found instant symmetry with Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano on a third line that has helped the Ducks produce two road victories to start the season. How have they clicked? At 6-foot-1, 201 pounds, Winnik is the bulk on that line at but also has the speed to skate with Koivu and Cogliano and the mindset to go toward the net at every opportunity. "He's just a big body and I think he skates well for a big guy, which just helps him," Cogliano said. "He's good at putting pressure on guys. He's good with his stick. And he's good holding onto the puck. And I think that's what we needed. "We needed a bigger guy that could hold onto the puck in the offensive zone. Give me and Sak a chance to get open." Known as a rugged and gritty winger over his five NHL seasons, Winnik fought a different battle for months on end as an entrenched participant in the players' struggle to negotiate a labor deal with the league.
Win, Winnik situation for Ducks
Orange County Register | Jan 23