On Friday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that they would be retiring Teemu Selanne’s #8 this January.
The Ducks are still a fairly new franchise. This year, they enter their 21st NHL season. For this reason, it is perhaps understandable that Teemu Selanne will become the first Anaheim player to have his number retired. However, others in the 1990’s expansion class have retired several jerseys.
The Colorado Avalanche, which debuted in 1995 have five retired jerseys.
Since moving to Arizona in 1996, the Coyotes have retired seven jerseys (though three of these played exclusively in Winnipeg, the franchises prior home).
The Carolina Hurricanes have retired three players since moving from Hartford in 1997.
The Minnesota Wild retired #1 in honor of its fans. The Florida Panthers retired #93 in honor of its owner (the Panthers, along with the Ducks entered the NHL in ’93).
Personally, I feel that it’s better that the Ducks have chosen to wait so long to retire a jersey. Retiring a players’ jersey is a sacred honor, and it cannot be undone. It should not be taken lightly, and retiring too many players’ jerseys cheapens its significance.
On the other hand, it’s important to recognize players who contributed to the franchise in a significant way. Without a doubt, Teemu Selanne fits that bill. He truly deserves to be the first retired number in the organization’s history.
With Selanne’s name destined for the Honda Center rafters, many Ducks fans wonder if there might be some other Ducks players worthy of the award one day.
#9, Paul Kariya
Drafted #4 overall by Mighty Ducks in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Paul Kariya was the first rookie draftee in franchise history. The newly formed Mighty Ducks needed a superstar, and Kariya filled that role. In only his second full season with the club, Kariya scored 108 points (50g-58a) alongside teammate Teemu Selanne.
Kariya and Selanne provided Anaheim the starpower it needed to succeed as a young franchise. Even today the Kariya-Selanne tandem is remembered as one of the greatest scoring duos in NHL history. Selanne was traded in 2001, but Kariya continued to serve as the face of the franchise. Without Selanne at his side, Kariya helped lead the Mighty Ducks to the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals.
In the second period of Game 6, Kariya was leveled by an open-ice elbow to the head from New Jersey defenseman Scott Stevens.
The hit sent Kariya to the dressing room with an apparent concussion, but Kariya returned after only a few minutes.
Later in the period, he scored an emotional goal, allowing the Mighty Ducks to send the series to a Game 7 in New Jersey.
Unfortunately, Anaheim lost Game 7, but “Off the floor, on the board” is still one of the most iconic moments in hockey history.
Kariya, who was an upcoming free agent vowed to return to Anaheim to help win a cup. To the shock of many, he instead left to sign with Teemu Selanne in Colorado. Needless to say, this wasn’t the most graceful way for Kariya to leave. Since his departure, a tension has existed between Kariya and many in the Ducks organization and fans alike.
Without a doubt, if there’s anybody else who deserves their number to be retired, it’s Paul Kariya. Unfortunately, this tension will likely prevent this from happening, at least for a while.
#27, Scott Niedermayer
Scott Niedermayer carries the distinction of being the first (and only) Captain in Anaheim history to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup. After signing with the Ducks in 2005, he was instrumental in bringing a championship to California for the first time. Niedermayer remained a crucial part of the team until his retirement following the 2009-10 season.
Niedermayer was known as an excellent two-way defensman. While he was rock solid in his own end, he also was known to contribute offensively. He finished his career with 740 points and a +167 rating in 1,263 NHL games.
Today he remains on the Ducks bench as an Assistant Coach. Additionally, he has taken upon himself to personally mentor young defensemen like Hampus Lindholm and Cam Fowler (who lived with Niedermayer’s family during his rookie season).
It’s hard to imagine the Ducks without Niedermayer. It’s entirely possible that without him, the Ducks would have never won the Stanley Cup in 2007. Had the ’07 Ducks failed, there’s no telling what the franchise would look like today.
However, it’s important to understand that Anaheim is only Niedermayer’s second home. Niedermayer won three Stanley Cups in twelve seasons with New Jersey before signing with Anaheim in 2005. He is regarded by many as a Devil first, and a Duck second. His number was retired by the Devils in 2011.
It is rare, but not unprecedented for players to have their numbers retired by multiple teams. Wayne Gretzky, Ray Bourque, Bobby Hull, Mark Messier, Patrick Roy, all have had their numbers retired by two or more teams.
While Niedermeyer undoubtedly made a major impact on the Ducks’ franchise, it seems unlikely that his number will be retired by the Ducks when it has already been retired by the Devils.
#35, Jean-Sebastien Giguere
J.S. Giguere, or “Jiggy” wasn’t the first goaltender in Ducks history, and maybe he wasn’t even the greatest. But he was an extremely influential part of the franchise during its two Stanley Cup runs.
Giguere, who was drafted by the Hartford Whalers was traded to Calgary in 1997 before being traded to Anaheim in 2000. After spending time with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in Cincinnati, Giguere eventually took the starting job from longtime goaltender Guy Hebert.
After two seasons of solid play, Giguere helped backstop his team to their first ever Stanley Cup appearance in 2003. During the run, Jiggy posted an impressive .945 save percentage, allowing only 1.62 goals per game. His superhuman performance earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy for the Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs, despite the Ducks losing in the finals.
Though Giguere came up empty-handed in 2003, he helped lead a stacked 2007 Ducks team to its first Cup in franchise history. During the championship run, he posted a .920 save percentage and a 1.97 goals allowed average.
Giguere would not finish his career in Anaheim. After struggling, he was replaced by Jonas Hiller in 2008. However, he had one final memory to make in Anaheim.
On April 11, 2014 Giguere started in net for the Colorado Avalanche at the Honda Center in the final game of the regular season. The game also turned out to be the final regular season game of both his and Teemu Selanne’s career. After the game, Selanne and Giguere skated around Honda Center hand in hand, saying goodbye to the fans and the city who had watched them for so long.
It may be several years before any of these players see their numbers lifted into the rafters of the Honda Center, but as Anaheim grows as a franchise it should remember these three pioneers that helped make the organization what it is today.
It is because of these players that the Anaheim Ducks have secured a stable future, a reputation as a winning team, and thousands of adoring fans. Whether or not any of their numbers are retired, we owe them our gratitude.