Anaheim Ducks Alumni: Guy Herbert is the Definition of Ducks Dedication

16 Dec 1998: Goallie Guy Hebert #31 of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks looking on during the game against the Nashville Predators at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California. The Mighty Ducks defeated the Predators 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Laforet /Allsport
16 Dec 1998: Goallie Guy Hebert #31 of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks looking on during the game against the Nashville Predators at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California. The Mighty Ducks defeated the Predators 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Laforet /Allsport /

Guy Hebert has been there since the birth of the Anaheim Ducks, and although he’s long since hung up his skates, he is still hard at work within the franchise.

When you think of the birth of the Anaheim Ducks franchise, the name Paul Kariya normally comes to mind. He was, of course, the first draft pick in what is now their 25-year history, and over the course of his 9 season career with the Mighty Ducks, he established a name for himself throughout the NHL and Southern California. However, in actuality, Guy Hebert will always hold the title as the “first Duck.”

Prior to his 8 season tenure in the Anaheim Ducks net, Hebert played two seasons with the St. Louis Blues. Breaking into the NHL at the age of 25 normally means a player spends most of the season riding the bench as the backup goaltender for his respective team. Hebert is no exception to this rule and played second fiddle to Curtis Joseph for the first two years of his career.

An Expansion Draft was scheduled for June 24, 1993, when both Florida and Anaheim were awarded a franchise. Each team got to choose one player from the 24 existing teams already in the NHL. The Florida Panthers had the privilege of selecting first and chose goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck from the Vancouver Canucks.

Later in the Expansion Draft, the Mighty Ducks would draft players of the likes of Troy Loney, Anatoli Semenov, Terry Yake, Randy Ladouceur, and Alexei Kasatonov. Nevertheless, drafting their very first player, Guy Hebert, finally made the dream of becoming an expansion team a reality.

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Hebert’s Impact on the Ice

In 1987, Guy Hebert was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 8th round, 159th overall, of the draft. After playing in the NCAA, for Hamilton College, it seemed like he was destined for a life in the IHL (International Hockey League, active from 1945-2001.) Then, during the 1991-92 season, he finally got his big break, sharing the duties as the Blues backup goaltender with Pat Jablonski.

Only playing 13 games in his first season in the NHL, he posted a SV% (save percentage) of .908%. Those are certainly not outstanding numbers, but good enough to earn him the backup role the following season. He may not have been the main man in the net, but he had already defied the odds by breaking into the NHL after being drafted in the 8th round of the NHL Entry Draft.

When the Anaheim Ducks, the Mighty Ducks at the time, were awarded their expansion team and the time finally came for the Expansion Draft, their sights zeroed in on the 27-year-old netminder. In order to stand on their own two feet during their first season as a franchise, they needed to be confident in their masked man, and Hebert, who was both determined and dedicated, seemed to be just the man for the job.

On October 8, 1993, Hebert took his rightful place in net as the Mighty Ducks starting goaltender as they faced off against the Detroit Red Wings for the very first game in franchise history. The team, as a whole, got off to a shaky start. They lost to the Detroit Red Wings, Hebert allowing 7 goals in 60 minutes, for an underwhelming SV% of .837%

The first three seasons ended in disappointment for the Mighty Ducks, barely missing the playoffs in seasons one and three and missing them by a mile during their second season. Nevertheless, Hebert played his way into the hearts of the fans and became one of only a few players that remained on the team over the years.

Between 1993 and 1996, the Mighty Ducks were analyzed, gutted, and rebuilt until it resembled a team that could finally be competitive. After acquiring Teemu Selanne in 1996, they finally found the missing piece to their playoff puzzle. In 1997, the Mighty Ducks made their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Hebert finally had a team in front of him who, without a doubt, had his back.

Although they were knocked out in the second round by their rivals, the Detroit Red Wings, Hebert would lead his team to the playoffs only one other time, in 1999, during his tenure with the Ducks. He would eventually be placed on waivers and picked up by the New York Rangers in 2001 just a few months before he retired.

Despite the Mighty Ducks inability to be competitive enough to make the playoffs, Guy became a staple at Arrowhead Pond. He set several franchise records as their first franchise goaltender, and although they would later be broken by J.S. Giguere, he paved the path for a long line of outstanding goaltenders throughout the Anaheim Ducks 25 year history.

Remaining Dedicated After Retirement

Over the 8 seasons he spent as the Anaheim Ducks star netminder, Anaheim became his home. It wasn’t just the city, but the people, the players, and the organization as a whole that captured his heart. He finished his career in New York, where he grew up, but quickly came to realize that it was time for him to hang up his skates.

It wouldn’t be long before he followed his heart back to Southern California and settled down with his family in Newport Beach. Since then, he has taken up a job with Fox Sports West, serving as the host for the Anaheim Ducks post and pre-game shows. As a former Duck himself, he always offers interesting insight and analysis of the team.

It is evident that he works hard and is passionate about the Anaheim Ducks just as much as he has been from day one. He may never have been the face of the franchise, but he had a big hand in jumpstarting the heart of the Anaheim Ducks and is still a big reason it keeps on beating.

His passion, dedication, determination, and love for the game set the bar high for the men who would later defend the net for the Ducks. J.S. Giguere, Jonas Hiller, Frederik Andersen, John Gibson, and even Ryan Miller, have learned valuable lessons from the very first Anaheim Duck that they will carry with them forever.

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What has been your favorite Guy Hebert moment over the years? Whether it was a moment on the ice or something witty he said behind the Fox Sports desk, leave us a comment below to show your appreciation for the very first Duck.