Anaheim Ducks goaltender Dan Ellis is best known in Nashville for his three year stint as a Predator. In his three years, Ellis managed to lead the league in save percentage one time and managed to push an eventual Stanley Cup champion to the brink of elimination during his lone playoff stint.
In the offseason of 2010, with Ellis looking for a full-time starting job and with Pekka Rinne firmly planted as Nashville’s number one goaltender, the Predators traded Ellis’ rights – as well as those of Dustin Boyd – to the Montreal Canadiens for the rights to restricted free agent Sergei Kostitsyn. Unable to come to terms with Montreal, Ellis signed a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
With the Lightning having their own logjam at goal and with Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller suffering from vertigo, the Ducks picked up Ellis on February 24. He would proceed to go 8-3-1 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.39 GAA for the remainder of the season.
Come playoff time, Ellis was given the nod as Anaheim’s starting goaltender against his old team, the Predators, but was pulled after giving up 4 goals in the first game and did not return for the rest of the series.
For Ellis, while it’s not his first return trip to Nashville since leaving, he still has positive feelings about coming back to the place where his career has had its most success.
“It’s always nice to come back,” Ellis said. “There’s guys that you’ve played with a few years and then you know the staff around the rink. There’s friendships that you can get back into and people you catch up with. It’s a great place to play. They’ve got good ice. They have great fans. The atmosphere is always doing well. It’s improved a lot over the years and it’s great to be back.”
While it seems like eons, Ellis has been gone from Nashville for only a little more than a year. If he comes into the game against the Predators, he will be playing against several players that he practiced with day-in and day-out for three seasons. Ellis, however, does not feel that knowing his opponent necessarily gives him an advantage.
“It’s not always easier,” Ellis said. “It’s the same as any other game. There’s a few more things you think of. You know a few things that guys used to do – a few tendencies here and there. I think sometimes maybe you trust in those tendencies too much and something else happens. You just have to read the game as it comes. I don’t try to predict too much. I just go out there and play like any other game.”
The Ducks have been in town for a day, but – while tempting – Ellis hasn’t been out on the town exploring his old stomping grounds.
“We got in yesterday, but we just went over to the mall and hung around there,” Ellis said. “It was a little bit of an off day where you just kick back and relax. You don’t go to those usual places down on the strip because you’ve got a game the next day. You go over there, you might be there a while. It’s always a good place to go listen to music and hang out with the guys, but not always the best place to go hang out before the game.”
During the 2010 offseason, Ellis set off a bit of a social media firestorm when he lashed out on Twitter about the collective bargaining agreement. The negative response by many of his followers led Ellis to remove his Twitter account. The question that has remained since that time has been, will Dan Ellis ever return to Twitter? According to Ellis, he already has, but in a passive manner. However, he has no intention of tweeting publicly again.
“I have a Twitter account still and I use it just to follow people, follow the news, get updates and stuff like that,” Ellis said. “I’ve found there’s too many people looking to ruin a good thing. When you look at it from an athlete’s perspective, there’s really no benefit to being on Twitter. For all those things that you can say, people are looking for that one thing that you might say in the wrong way or the wrong context. It can snowball pretty quickly as it did for myself. I don’t miss it a bit. I mean, I do miss some of the fans. It was nice to kind of interact with people. My biggest thing was, for myself growing up, you never knew what it was like being an NHL player. There’s not a lot of really good looks behind the scene and that’s what I tried to give. For any kid looking to see what it was like up here, I tried to be real about the experiences on the road and stuff like that. I do miss that part of it.”
As for Anaheim, while Ellis arrived there due to circumstance instead of choice, he feels that he may have found his perfect hockey home.
“It’s great,” Ellis said. “I enjoyed the experience in Tampa. The organization was fantastic – one of the best organizations in the league. It’s just really top notch. Being there with Steve Yzerman and being able to play with some of those great players like Stamkos and St. Louis was excellent, but the transition worked out great for me. I think (in Tampa Bay), the way that you’re expected to play and change your style to fit their own style – it wasn’t a perfect match. Coming over to Anaheim and back to the (Western Conference) was maybe a little more comfortable. There’s a great team, a great coaching staff, a great group of players and I think we’ve got a really good thing here.”
Finally, with Movember coming next week and numerous players around the league sporting facial hair for prostate cancer awareness, will Dan Ellis be growing a mustache?