ANAHEIM – Nic Kerdiles and Bob Ferguson, who runs the American Hockey League’s San Diego Gulls as general manager, know each other enough to have a running banter over how the winger wears his hat.
To hear Kerdiles tell it, Ferguson wants him to always wear it with the bill facing forward. “Because that’s the direction your career is going in his terms,” Kerdiles said Wednesday.
The hat issue came up again after a Gulls practice Tuesday morning.
“I left the rink and he called me a minute later and asked what direction is your hat right now,” Kerdiles recalled. “I go, ‘Forward’. (He goes) ‘Good, because you just got called up. Come back and grab your gear.’
“That was a pretty funny moment. I remember just getting chills and being really happy. I made a U-turn illegally and I just got right back to the rink.”
How fast was he driving? “I can’t tell you that,” he said.
As he told this story, Kerdiles was wearing a big smile in front of his stall inside the Ducks’ locker room at Honda Center. The place where he has always dreamed he’d be.
The Ducks made it a reality and Kerdiles, 23, could barely contain his excitement ahead of his NHL debut Wednesday night against Boston. Kerdiles became the first Orange County-raised player to be drafted by the team and play for it.
It comes after a number of setbacks to persevere through along the way, most being concussion-related. Kerdiles came to training camp with high hopes but those were dashed in late September when Colorado defenseman Nikita Zadorov caught him with a high hit in a rookie game.
Suddenly, Kerdiles couldn’t play hockey anywhere for months. There were visits to see doctors back in Michigan during the recovery process, but a major step came when he was cleared in December to resume training. It certainly helped his outlook on the situation.
“Those things, they mentally kind of drain you,” Kerdiles said. “They make you question things. It’s just tough. The family’s support, the support from the Ducks and Gulls, they kept me positive.
“I’d say about halfway into the recovery, I started changing my attitude and being a little bit more positive. That’s when I started seeing a lot of changes happen.”
Antoine Vermette is scheduled be in New York City on Thursday to have the appeal of his 10-game suspension heard by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who can either reduce the number of games, increase it or uphold the suspension as it is.
Vermette received the ban for hitting linesman Shandor Alphonso with his stick during the Ducks’ Valentine’s Day game at Minnesota. It was determined that there was no intent to injure but the Category II infraction under Rule 40 carries an automatic 10-game suspension.
There has been lots of speculation that Vermette could have it reduced, perhaps as much as five games because of the lack of malicious intent by the veteran forward. If Bettman does not reduce the penalty, Vermette can have an independent arbitrator hear his case.
In the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, Daniel Carcillo had his suspension cut from 10 to six games after striking linesman Scott Driscoll with his elbow as the then-New York Rangers forward was trying to break free from Driscoll in order to get at Montreal’s Brandon Prust.
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