Anaheim Ducks Being Investiaged For Possible Illegal Practice


The Anaheim Ducks are currently being investigated by the NHL for holding an illegal practice on December 26th, 2014. The current collective bargaining agreement mandates that teams are forbidden from hosting any team-run activities during the holiday break, which runs from December 24th through December 26th each year.

According to general manager Bob Murray, captain Ryan Getzlaf organized a practice on December 26th for the Ducks players by paying for ice time and having a local coach run the practice. He did so without having any team officials present, including the coaching staff and front-office personnel. Teams cannot organize activities during the break, but players are free to utilize team facilities.

The Ducks played their last game before the holiday break against the San Jose Sharks on Monday, December 22nd. The Ducks won that game 3-2 in overtime, and head coach Bruce Boudreau gave the team the next day off. The Ducks’ next game was on Saturday, December 27th against the Arizona Coyotes, on the first day that teams were allowed to host activities. Because of that, the Ducks had to fly out on the day of the game, losing an hour between time zones in the process. Also, the game started at 6:00 p.m. local time in Arizona, meaning a practice before the game was most likely out of the question.

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With the team having an off-day after the Sharks game and no required on-ice activities until warm-ups in Arizona, it is believed that Getzlaf tried to account for the lack of practice time by gathering teammates during the off-day on his own and treating it like an offseason training regiment, where players gather together on their own and get into shape before reporting for training camp. There is no current number on how many Ducks attended this “informal” practice. According to the Los Angeles Times, Hampus Lindholm, Rene Bourque, Rickard Rakell, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Emerson Etem all claim they had no knowledge of the practice and deny attending it.

If it is found that the Ducks did, in fact, violate the CBA with this practice, the NHL is expected to fine the Ducks a hefty amount.

The Ducks lost to the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 in the shootout that night. The team looked fairly rusty and quite sluggish, so Getzlaf maybe had the right idea in trying to gather the players for a practice on his own. As the team captain and the chief leadership figure in the locker room, Getzlaf believed that having four days off would potentially hurt the team’s performance, so he organized an informal practice to try and shake off any rust for himself and as many teammates as possible. Getzlaf had this to say to the Los Angeles Times.

"“We’re supposed to be prepared to play every night. I felt that gave me the best chance to be prepared, and my teammates the opportunity to do the same if they needed it.”"

Following the loss to the Coyotes, Getzlaf also added this.

"“You get out there, you’re out of your rhythm a little bit. … You’re still not as sharp as you’d like to be. The quality of the game showed that. I thought we played a pretty good game considering.”"

Based on the reports, it seems that Getzlaf had positive intentions and was trying to do what was best for his team, as the captain should. While just holding the practice doesn’t seem like it means much on the surface, the extra off-day during the holiday break is a subtle, yet appreciated addition. Players now get more than just Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. That means an extra day spent with family, relatives, and others who come to visit for the holidays. It means an extra day of rest and recuperation in a grueling 82-game schedule, which is constantly portrayed as a grind. For a team that has to travel for its first game back (like the Ducks did), it means not having to spend Christmas packing and getting ready for a flight the very next morning.

While “just an extra day off” might not seem like much, the players do not get much respite from the season, outside of the All-Star break. Factoring in playing 82 games plus the playoff run that players, coaches, and fans alike wish for, off-days become much more meaningful, especially to those talented enough to either lead a team to the playoffs, make the All-Star game, or do both. This is why the Ducks are deservedly being considered for a fine, even if it is “just a practice”.

There is no indication as to when the NHL will conclude its investigation and deliver its verdict. From what Murray and Getzlaf have disclosed, their stories match, and unless new pieces of evidence and information are discovered, the Ducks should be cleared.

Jason Byun is the editor for Pucks of a Feather. He can be found on Twitter. For more Anaheim Ducks coverage, follow Pucks of a Feather on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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