After hitting the 1,000 game milestone, it seems as though the Anaheim Ducks are shutting Ryan Kesler down. Are his days in the NHL finally over?
Dedication, strength, perseverance, integrity, and passion. These are all words that adequately describe Ryan Kesler and his career in the National Hockey League. Over the past five seasons, Anaheim Ducks fans have had the privilege of witnessing his strong resolve first hand, especially over the past two years.
When his hip began causing him problems, he sought out a solution. After several tests, the most logical option was hip surgery. However, when they finally got Kesler in the operating room, it was far worse than doctors could have ever predicted. Several loose bone fragments were floating freely in his hip socket, and while that explained his pain, it was another major set back.
Nevertheless, in the face of adversity, Kesler never quit. Even when his career seemed to be in jeopardy, and several sources claimed he may not return for the season or even at all, he pushed himself to excruciating lengths in order to prove to everyone, especially himself, that it was going to take a lot more than a defective hip to keep him from the game that he loved.
In a phenomenal article, recently published by Sports Illustrated, fans were given a detailed look into what it took to get Kesler back on the ice. Essentially, the veteran center taught himself how to walk again, and in the process learned a very important lesson in patience.
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However, the cold hard facts loomed over his head. His hip couldn’t take much more and it had come to the point where he needed to consider the reality that his time in the NHL was close to being over. Despite his hesitancy and the heartbreak that came along with it, he set out to achieve one last milestone: his 1,000th NHL game.
The Road to 1,000
After months of intense rehab to get him back into game shape, he took to the ice against the Arizona Coyotes on October 10, 2018. Although the Anaheim Ducks lost that game, 3-4, Kesler opened the scoring in the first period after winning a battle for the puck in front of Antti Raanta‘s net.
In the 60 games he’s played in since his season debut, he’s scored a season-low of 5 goals, with an added 3 helpers. Although his 8 points are more than anyone expected him to have this season, it is significant evidence of the trauma Kesler has been through and is still struggling with.
On March 5, 2019, against the same team he made his season debut against, Ryan Kesler played in his 1,000th game against the Arizona Coyotes. With this milestone, he became the 333rd player in NHL history to reach the 1,000 game threshold and one of only 25 who is currently active.
Although he did not register a point, Ducks Nation saw a glimpse of the physical, gritty, Ryan Kesler we have come to love over the past five years. The player who was once the “glue” of the Anaheim Ducks shutdown line made an appearance in typical Ryan Kesler fashion, registering four hits plus a trip to the sin bin for a cross-check against Alex Galchenyuk.
Just one night later, Kesler would play in his 1,001st game against the St. Louis Blues. The Anaheim Ducks organization put together a touching tribute of all of his accomplishments and played it for what would be his last game of the 2018-19 season.
Since then, Kesler has not stepped foot onto the ice. In a recent article written by Elliot Teaford of the Orange County Register, Bob Murray broke the news that it was possible we may not see Ryan Kesler again this year.
If he does decide to finally give his body the rest it deserves and stop here, it would be logical for him to ride out the remainder of his contract on LTIR (long term injured reserve) or trade him to a team who would allow him to do that. It would be wonderful to see him retire as a Ducks, but at this point, he deserves to do what is best for his body, both mentally and physically.
Whether this was the last time we see Kesler this season or the last time we see him play at all is still a question Ducks Nation does not have a clear answer to. Kesler reached his goal of 1,000 and no one would blame him if he makes the decision to make this his stopping point. Nevertheless, nothing would surprise me at this point, especially in regards to RK17.
With the end of his career in the near future, his dedication and contributions to the Anaheim Ducks have not gone unnoticed. What is your favorite Ryan Kesler moment over the past five seasons? Let us know by leaving a comment down below.