Chouinard Looks to Anaheim

By Martin Dittman
The Mighty Ducks re-signed Marc Chouinard to their roster on Tuesday night and barely anybody talked about it. The message boards and mailing lists were silent. Nobody seemed to care in California as the papers barely mentioned the signing – instead focusing on Marty McInnis. But perhaps they should start paying more attention.

Chouinard is not a top prospect nor is he the answer to Anaheim’s problems at scoring depth but he is very intriguing. A center with a great frame (6’5 – 200) he’s still young and at the ripe age of 23, and he brings about curiosities. Over the last several seasons Chouinard has battled injuries. In juniors, he struggled with shoulder problems. In his rookie pro year, he suffered a lacerated achilles tendon which set him back the entire year but it has been all uphill since then.

Marc is coming off a career season with Cincinnati where he played an aggressive checking game while showing capable offensive skills. He scored 17 goals and added 16 assists in 70 games. While that might not sound like much, for Chouinard it’s extremely impressive.

MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF


Up until this season, Marc was known for two things. One of those things is something most fans forget. He was involved in the Teemu Selanne trade. While most only mention Selanne, Oleg Tverdovsky and Chad Kilger as the only moved, Chouinard was looked at as the throw in or the “other guy”. He was barely mentioned in the deal and was not considered anything else besides a spare part. Even though he was a second round draft choice, most people never considered Marc as NHL material – at least as a regular player.

Chouinard also gained some notoriety thanks to family bloodlines with Eric Chouinard. Whenever Eric’s bio came up, Marc was always mentioned in the shadows. For the first time, it’s Marc in the headlines and Eric in the shadows.

BATTLING BACK

1997 was a disastrous year for Chouinard. After playing in only eight games with Cincy in the AHL , he suffered the severe tendon injury. It set him back months in rehabilitation and career development. He underwent physical therapy and finally made his return to the lineup in November 1998. The eight month layoff was definitely a factor in Chouinard’s play. He played on the fourth line much of the time and only scored 15 points in 69 games – but that didn’t matter to the Ducks or Marc. The key was Marc had made it back to the ice and more importantly, his development was back on track.

BREAKOUT SEASON

1999 was the year it all came together for Chouinard. He started off slowly in 1999 but rebounded nicely, becoming when of the top players in Cincinnati. He played more aggressive and started to make a name for himself as an emerging future Mighty Duck of Anaheim. Anaheim showed enough confidence in him to protect him in the expansion draft over NHL regulars including Jeff Nielsen. The move was a surprise to many and established Marc as a legitimate contender to make the NHL in 2000.

A PERFECT FIT

Anaheim is always looking for a checking line center and Marc just might be the perfect fit for that job. His size along with his smooth skating ability make him a stong candidate for the job. One possibility has him centering a line with workhorses Jim Cummins and Dan Bylsma. It’s a line that will never score very much, but it would be effective in their own end.

Marc faces a tough battle to make the team. The Ducks made it a priority to add some competition for jobs and they have certainly succeeded up to this point. Chouinard will join Jonas Ronnqvist, Kevin Sawyer and Andy McDonald as players who start off on the bubble and will have to work their way into the lineup through training camp. The Ducks are high enough on Chouinard that Assistant GM David McNab predicted that Marc will score 35 goals this season if he returns to Cincinnati. A stretch perhaps but don’t count that one out either. If you like to cheer for the underdog, Chouinard is your man. He’s battled through adversity and is ready to take that battle to the next level.

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