Ducks remain a wounded group as training camp opens

ANAHEIM — The emotional pain endured by the Ducks to end last season has subsided but the physical pain continues to linger as another one begins.

A beaten-up bunch by the time their chase for a Stanley Cup ended with a Game 6 loss to Nashville in the Western Conference finals, the Ducks must deal with being shorthanded from the first day of training camp into the new season.

In the case of do-everything shutdown center Ryan Kesler, it will be well into the season. It could be three full months before the Selke Trophy finalist as the NHL’s top defensive forward makes his first appearance in a game.

As camp opened Friday at Anaheim Ice, Ducks general manager Bob Murray laid out what he hoped for as Kesler works his way back from hip surgery done by Dr. Marc Philippon, a noted specialist, on June 8 in Vail, Colo.

“As of right now there is no timeline whatsoever with Ryan Kesler,” Murray said. “Basically he had to play the second half of last year with no … couldn’t skate. He couldn’t push off his right leg whatsoever. So he’s got to rebuild his total glute, quad, everything. And that’s what we’re in the process of doing right now.

“So I’m hopeful to have him back before Christmas but that’s all I’m going to say for right now. We’ll see. You know how Kes is. He’s pushing it pretty good. But we’re also pushing back and just taking our time.”

The Ducks took the first step toward filling that massive hole in the middle by revisiting an option they’ve often tried. Rickard Rakell was at center during the team’s first official workout and Ducks center Randy Carlyle said the high-scoring forward will play there throughout the preseason.

Rakell flourished on left wing last season as his career-high 33 goals led the Ducks. Carlyle discussed the plan with him over the summer and he knows he’ll have to be a more complete player in the middle of the ice.

“I feel like I can be a better hockey player than I was last year,” Rakell said. “I scored a lot of goals and I don’t want to take anything away from that. I still feel I can make more plays and create a lot more space for myself and my teammates more.”

In addition to more faceoffs – a problem area for Rakell since entering the NHL – and added defensive responsibilities, Carlyle envisions Rakell eating up some of the penalty-killing duties that Kesler shoulders. What Rakell sees is not trying to be Ryan Kesler.

“I’m just trying to do my best at that…

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