Roommates Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale of the Ducks had supplies for the long afternoon ahead of them on Sunday at Honda Center.
Water bottles for hydration.
Sharpie Pens for signing.
For three hours, they signed autographs and squeezed out a few words here and there as the long line kept moving. The meet-and-greet event with the two players was sparked by their new jersey numbers for this upcoming season with Zegras, switching to No. 11 from No. 46 and Drysdale moving to No. 6 from No. 34. “I’ve always worn No. 11 – worn it my whole life,” Zegras said.
The line snaked through the Honda Center corridors and spilled outside around the arena. Apparently, the earliest arrivals showed up just after 4 in the morning to queue.
Zegras brought his usual charisma to the proceedings and temporarily tabled his anxiety about the performance of his two NFL fantasy football teams. The (usually) unflappable defenseman, Drysdale, was tested when he was asked by his parents if he wanted to hold a baby (Dominic, all of two months) for a picture.
“It’s terrifying,” said Drysdale, chuckling. “I have no clue how it looked but it probably looked so awkward. I didn’t know how to hold it. I was struggling. It was pretty funny when they said, ‘Do you want to hold the baby?’ I said, ‘You’re going to trust me with your baby?’ They had a lot of trust in me.”
There were lesser challenges for the duo. Zegras looked at a big homemade sign by a fan, advertising to share season tickets and said, “Where do you want me to sign? I don’t want to mess it up.”
Zegras did his share of listening from the fans while signing.
“You’re the future of hockey brother.”
“I’m trying to do the Zegras in my league …it’s not working.”
So about that future. With all eyes on Zegras, how does he manage expectations after a headline-making rookie season? The 21-year-old center had 23 goals and 61 points in 75 games this past season, finishing second in Calder Trophy voting to Moritz Seider of the Detroit Red Wings, who led rookie defensemen in assists (43) and points (50).
“I feel expectations just mean pressure,” Zegras said. “I try not to think about that stuff. You just go out there and do the best you can. I know what I’m capable of. And I’m not going to let anybody try to put extra pressure on me because I feel that’s just a recipe for disaster.
“I’m not one to get bogged down by the outside noise. If coaches are happy and teammates are happy, I’m happy.”
Zegras had a clever response about handling his second full season in the NHL.
“You just pretend it’s year three,” he said.
Still there are lessons from the 2021-22 campaign that he can use when the regular season starts next month. The Ducks’ season opener – against the visiting Seattle Kraken on Oct. 12 – will be his 100th NHL game.
“I feel like everything was new last year, so now I have an idea of what I’m getting into,” Zegras said. “I don’t know if the nerves will be as calm, but I feel like I’ve got a good idea of what I’m coming into this year. I feel like I’ll be better prepared, for sure.”
Except for one thing. Someone in the Zegras-Drysdale household might have to learn another skill … eventually.
“We refrain from cooking,” Drysdale reported. “We eliminate the things that could get under each other’s skin. At the end of the day, it’s good. He’s a funny guy, as everybody knows.”
Plus it’s simple to decide whether Zegras or Drysdale is driving on any given day.
“Whoever is parked in front of the other one,” Zegras said.