Ducks’ Mike Stothers behind the bench again against Nashville Predators

ANAHEIM — Ducks assistant coach Mike Stothers said the support he has received internally and externally has been “out of this world,” since disclosing on March 4 that he had been diagnosed with stage three melanoma of the lymph node.

“People I haven’t talked to or seen in years whether it’s a call or text,” Stothers said on Sunday morning. “And it helps. It really does.”

Stothers was speaking after their morning skate at Honda Center, handling media duties. Later, he was behind the bench for their game against the Nashville Predators for the first time in four games.

He missed the Ducks’ recently completed three-game trip to undergo additional testing and said that he will be starting immunotherapy on Monday. Stothers made a point of thanking several more individuals in the organization –  starting with head athletic trainer Joe Huff and assistant  athletic trainer Chad Walker as well as Ducks’ medical director, Dr. Kenton Fibel, who “got me in the direction of people I need to see, above and beyond.”

It felt different, he said, not being behind the bench when the Ducks were in Seattle, Vancouver and Calgary last week.

“It’s weird to sit at home and listen to the game and watch it on TV,” Stothers said. “It’s not nearly as fun. But you pick up some good information, good scoops of guys doing their homework, both our team and the opposition.”

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Stothers, who handles the defense and the penalty kill, discussed several members of the defense corps, including the longest-tenured player on the team, Cam Fowler. In terms of games played among the defensemen, there is a sizable dropoff after Fowler (878 games) and Kevin Shattenkirk (876). Third-pair defenseman Nathan Beaulieu is next with 457 games played in the NHL.

“The good thing with Cam is he’s willing to make others better,” Stothers said. “Whereas there’s some guys that want a certain partner or a certain experienced partner to make them be better. If you’re a good veteran guy, you should be making the players around you better by your play, your demeanor, the way you prepare for games.

“I think Cam has done that. He’s been (on the) left side, right side. All over the map. That’s what you expect from a guy that’s been here for 800 games.”

The years of experience helped Fowler navigate what was a rough start to the season, individually and collectively.

“I think we would agree he didn’t get off to the start that he himself was hoping for …we were hoping for,” Sothers said. “Now Cam is a guy who is a perfectionist. He demands a lot of himself. He stuck with it and he knew he was going to play through it. Whereas maybe if you had a young guy that had never gone through the ups and downs, maybe it would have affected him longer.”

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