Heading into the ‘10-11 season the Anaheim Ducks were going through some changes.
They were only 3 seasons removed from bringing a Stanley Cup to Anaheim, but had only one playoff series win since. Hall of Fame Captain Scott Niedermayer was gone and the Ducks needed a new direction.
In a move that seemed unprecedented the team rather than the coaches selected the team captain and the choice, Ryan Getzlaf.
Getzlaf was entering his fourth season in the league with a championship in his rookie season and was fast emerging as the face of the franchise behind Teemu Selanne. His offensive game was top end but as far as his leadership ability it was a bit of an unknown.
Those questions were answered quickly as Getzlaf has led the Ducks to the playoffs in all but one of his four seasons as Ducks captain; his offensive numbers haven’t dropped off as he has accumulated 269 points in 270 games, and reached the 30+ goal plateau this season.
Ducks fans will tell you he was the right choice from day one and now finally four years later the rest of the league knows that to be true as well. Getzlaf has been nominated this season for the Ted Lindsay Award (given to the league’s most outstanding player by the NHLPA) the Mark Messier Leadership Award (given to the superior leader in their sport) and the Hart Memorial Trophy (given to the NHL’s MVP). Pretty high accolades and all well-deserved for someone who is considered one of the best captains in the game.
The Ducks truly do run on Getzlaf and they will go as far as he can take them. He is off to a good start in this year’s post-season as he led the team to a first round win over the Dallas Stars with a 3-6-9 line. This after he took a slap shot to the face in Game 1 and received 32 stitches.
He has remained hot, picking up a goal and 5 assists in the Ducks first four games of the second round against Los Angeles. The Ducks are a different team when Getzlaf is in the line-up and his presence is missed when he isn’t there.
When Getzlaf was back in the line-up for Game 5 after missing Game 4 of Round 1 with an undisclosed injury, head coach Bruce Boudreau said, “Every time you get your captain back, it’s going to make you feel better. It’s like your big brother is back. Guys felt a little more secure, and he came out and played a really great game, as well as the other guys.”
The Ducks are a great team and could have the ingredients to win it all, but the one guy that keeps everything in the right rhythm and makes sure the Ducks don’t miss a beat is Ryan Getzlaf.
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