They came from the unwanted lists of Edmonton and Ottawa, from the discard pile of Hartford, from the circular file of San Jose.
They came to play ice hockey, in a land called Anaheim, where ice is traditionally crushed, mixed with tequila and served in salt-encrusted glasses.
They came to be Mighty Ducks.
Tonight, 25 brave souls make history when Orange County's first professional hockey team plays Detroit in its NHL regular-season debut. The going is not expected to be easy.
At the very least, they deserve a proper introduction . . .
Robin Bawa: The last Duck selected in the Anaheim-Florida expansion draft--47th out of 48 overall--and something of a success story. Bawa survived one training-camp cut after another to make it to tonight, largely due to whom he knows (he played for Ron Wilson and Jack Ferreira during previous NHL stops) as well as what he knows (how to fight). The Ducks noticed the 381 penalty minutes Bawa racked up in Ft. Wayne, Ind., in 1990-91 and figured he had a future here.
Patrik Carnback: The Ducks' only Swede. A little-known NHL by-law requires one on every team.
Bob Corkum: He'll be the one shadowing Steve Yzerman tonight, as per his unfortunate lot as the Ducks' checking center. Future assignments include Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Mario Lemieux, Doug Gilmour and Eric Lindros. Corkum remains hopeful, however. The job, he says, is not to stop them--"just bring them down to the level of the rest of us."
Bobby Dollas: He saw his picture on the front page of USA Today this week and went wild, telling teammates he was going to hit every newsstand in Orange County and buy 100 copies. A thumb injury will keep him out of tonight's game; reliable sources insist it was not the result of a spring-loaded news-rack lid slamming Dollas on his ink-stained hand.
Peter Douris: Douris played for the Providence minor league team last season. So did Tim Sweeney. Ferreira was born in Providence. Wilson and assistant Tim Army attended Providence College. Call them the Rhode Island Ducks.
Todd Ewen: Ewen is an artist, sensitive and thoughtful. He creates tiny, intricate sculptures out of adhesive tape. He plays the piano and the guitar. He is presently writing and illustrating a book for children. He also accumulated 53 penalty minutes and two game misconducts in five Duck exhibition games. "Does this look like a tough guy?" Wilson asked as he introduced a nattily attired Ewen at Wednesday's booster luncheon. "If he didn't have a black eye, you wouldn't know."
Mark Ferner: Couldn't Play For Ottawa--that was some albatross Ferner wore around his neck as he walked into Duck training camp. Ottawa had one of the worst teams in NHL history last season and Ferner couldn't get off the farm club. That tends to motivate a man, which is why Ferner led the Ducks in teeth-rattling checks this preseason, which is why Wilson has him on the roster tonight.
Stu Grimson: The Grim Reaper loves children. Really. Whenever they allowed him out of the penalty box in Chicago, Stu would visit children's hospitals and spend hours after games signing autographs. At 6-5, 227 pounds, however, he can be intimidating. "It's all right, honey, go on up there," mothers would tell their timid youngsters, quivering with pen and paper. "Don't fear The Reaper."
Guy Hebert: He's a native Noo Yawker, born in Troy, about as French as those fries next to your Big Mac--yet the Duck goaltender pronounces his name \o7 Gee Ay-bear\f7 . A tad snooty, no? "My dad was a big hockey fan," Hebert explains, "and he was sure someone in the family would end up playing hockey. So when I was born, he picked the name out of The Hockey News. Who better than Guy Lafleur?"
Sean Hill: The youngest Duck (23) and owner of the hardest shot on the team. He played for the Canadiens last season and will receive his Stanley Cup ring later this month when the Ducks pay their first visit to Montreal. So, the trip won't be a total waste.
Bill Houlder: Credits former San Diego Gulls Coach Rick Dudley for reviving his career last season by introducing him to something called "pliometrics," which sounds like what Marty McSorley did to his stick before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals but is actually a form of agility exercise that is said to improve quickness. Houlder went on to score a career-high 24 goals for San Diego, all of them, presumably, with a legal stick.
Alexei Kasatonov: Don't ask him about "Miracle On Ice." Alexei was on the losing side at Lake Placid in 1980. His penalty was 10 more years on the Central Red Army team, followed by a four-year banishment to the Siberia of the NHL, also known as New Jersey.
Steven King: Don't ask him about "Carrie," "Christine" or "Misery." This Steven King doesn't write lines, he plays on them, and consequently pulls down several million dollars less per year. Will get his own shot at "CuJo" on Dec. 12, when St. Louis goaltender Curtis Joseph comes to town.