After spending the summer working hard to rehabilitate his hip, Ryan Kesler rejoined the Anaheim Ducks in mid-October. However, he ended up pushing himself beyond his physical limits.
If there is one player on the Anaheim Ducks roster that epitomizes strength, dedication, and passion, it’s Ryan Kesler. He has sacrificed so much, including his own body, for the game he loves and the fans that support him. It doesn’t matter what is thrown at him, he always comes out swinging. His perseverance and courage amidst his recent struggles is a true testament of the person he is.
Unfortunately, prior to the 2018-19 season, speculation flew out of the rumor mill that Kesler would spend the year on the sidelines. Of course, the Anaheim Ducks neither confirmed or denied these rumors, sending fans into panic mode. Nevertheless, hope was restored when he was spotted at camp sporting a no contract jersey. The question was no longer if he would come back, but when.
He Came Out Strong, But Things Went Downhill Fast
He made a strong showing in his first game against the Arizona Coyotes, scoring the first goal of the game just seconds into his second shift of the night. Just seven nights later, he led the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-1 win against the New York Islanders, scoring two consecutive goals. His performance during his first few games back gave fans hope that he truly would make a comeback.
However, this was shortlived because RK17 would go through a scoring drought at several points during the season. At the end of the season, he had only managed to register a total of 8 points (5 goals, 3 assists.) Kesler essentially earned $834,375 for every point credited to his name for the 2018-19 season.
Granted, it must be kept in mind that Kesler is utilized in a defensive role as the Anaheim Ducks shutdown center. In that role, he shouldn’t be expected to put up insane point totals. Nevertheless, Kesler hasn’t played a full season without registering less than 37+ points since he was 23 in 2007-08. Since his hip surgery, he has been progressively worse on the ice.
The good news is, he was still one of the Anaheim Ducks best men in the faceoff circle, winning 55.7% of faceoffs. Still, those numbers don’t carry a lot of weight when you dive into Kesler’s Corsi For and Fenwick For stats. At 44.3% and 44.4% respectively, these were one the worst totals of any full-time player on the team.
He Cannot Carry All of the Blame
With Kesler on the ice, the team struggled to control the puck and the pace of the game. Regardless, Randy Carlyle and Bob Murray still pitted him against some of the best lines in the NHL. So, Kesler cannot carry all of the blame. The coaches should have used their better judgment and put his health before all else.
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It was clear that he spent most of the season in pain. The Anaheim Ducks should have forced him to sit games out and rest his hip. It would have benefited both the team and Kesler. Yet, they allowed him to push himself to the point where his body was falling apart.
He did, however, reach his ultimate goal of playing 1,000 games, and after 1,001, the Anaheim Ducks shut him down for the season. He has a great support system around him, and without them, he may not have made it to such an important milestone.
During the postseason, he underwent hip resurfacing surgery to help relieve the pain he is in. It is unlikely he will play during the 2019-20 season at all. Nevertheless, there is hope going forward that he will play in the NHL again. For how long? That remains to be seen.
It is hard to grade Kesler because his stats were really hindered due to his injury. He showed tremendous strength and relentlessness; he is a modern-day sports superhero. Regardless, those traits alone do not win hockey games or aid the Anaheim Ducks. In fact, having Kesler on the ice was more or less a hinderance and added fuel to the already flaming dumpster fire of 2018-19.
Final Grade: D
Disclaimer: This grade is based solely on stats and generated points. We understand that Kesler had physical limitations this past season, and we would give him an A if we were grading based off of courage, passion, and strength. The coaching staff should have limited him because we all know he wouldn’t limit himself. Nevertheless, their poor judgment caused him to have an overall poor performance and made his injury worse.
Do you think we were too hard on Ryan Kesler considering the circumstances? What grade would you give him? Let us know by leaving a comment down below in the comment section!