The Anaheim Ducks had a rough year, but there were still a few players who stepped up and carried the team on their back.
The 2019-20 season left a lot to be desired. For the majority of the year, the Anaheim Ducks were a discombobulated mess that lacked the fundamental skills required for success in the modern-day NHL. However, putting the team’s struggles aside, there were a few players who stepped up and carried the team on their back. This player displayed leadership skills, dedication, determination, and integrity both on and off the ice.
There are several players that fit the bill, but we left it up to our readers to decide which player would ultimately walk away with the 2020 Hercules Award. The nominees, as decided by the staff at Pucks of a Feather, were Jakob Silfverberg, Ryan Getzlaf, Nicolas Deslauriers, and John Gibson. After much deliberation and a last-minute shift in votes, it is no surprise as to who came out on top.
Hercules Award— Honorable Mentions
Jakob Silfverberg (15.3% of the vote): Jakob Silfverberg has stood out over the past two seasons with his incredible determination and fearless attitude. Stepping into a new role this year as Alternate Captain, Silf proved once again why he is a reliable entity on the Anaheim Ducks roster. Some fans were doubtful that he could come out again this season with a repeat performance from 2018-19.
Nevertheless, the veteran forward pushed himself every night, paving the way for himself as one of the Ducks leading goal scorers, once again. His performance both on the ice and off the ice earned him the opportunity to represent the Anaheim Ducks at the All-Star Game, which he, unfortunately, but understandably, had to turn down due to the birth of his daughter.
Ryan Getzlaf (23.6% of the vote): Even in his “old age”, Ryan Getzlaf is still a sight to behold on the ice. While the thought that his career may come to an end in the next few seasons is bitter-sweet, the Captain still gives it his all. This season was a tough one for him in more ways than one. New coach, new system, new players. Yet, he still maintained his integrity. While the Hercules Award isn’t necessarily about leadership, in a way, leadership plays a big role in who gets nominated by the staff here at Pucks of a Feather.
Getzlaf is declining, there is no arguing about that, but he still manages to be one of the team’s top point producers every season. At one point this season, Getzlaf was leading the team in goals. Yes, let me say that again, our “pass first” Captain was leading the team in goals.
Aside from his point totals and his tenacity to keep things going on the bad days, Getzlaf wasn’t afraid to step up and publicly call out his team, their attitude, and the way they were playing. Sometimes the heroes have to make the hard calls, and Getzlaf isn’t afraid to step up and do what is needed in order for his team to succeed.
Nicolas Deslauriers (25% of the votes): At the beginning of the season, the Nicolas Deslauriers trade was often looked upon by fans as pointless. However, as the season went on, Des quickly fought his way into the fan’s hearts (pun definetly intended.) Deslauriers was constantly a motivating factor for his teammates. While fighting may be on its way out in the NHL, there is no denying that watching Deslauriers get down and dirty with some of our most hated rivals was a treat, and oftentimes, the best part of the evening.
Nicolas Deslauriers may not be the best player to ever put on a Ducks jersey, but his dedication is on another level. Had the season continued, he would have bested his previous season record. Not to mention, that hat trick was incredible.
At the end of the day, while John Gibson rightfully earned this award, Nicolas Deslauriers could have easily taken it home (he was my nomination as well as vote.) Putting his body and his health on the line for his fans and his teammates is not something many players are willing to do. This season wasn’t really much fun to watch, but this season would have been pretty awful without Des out on the ice every night to inspire his teammates and the fans.
Hercules Award— John Gibson (36.1% of the vote)
John Gibson is an amazing athlete, who doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Of course, Ducks fans know how priceless he is, but the rest of the NHL tends to sleep on the incredible talent that is John Gibson. Yes, his stats took a nosedive this year; the 26-year-old goaltender posting the worst save percentage of his career, at .904%. But, Gibson didn’t really have much to work with this year, and any other average goaltender likely would have buckled under the pressure.
There was a point during the season where Gibson received a lot of criticism from the fans. The apple of our eye didn’t seem to have the stamina he had in seasons past. Nevertheless, it was quickly realized that the netminder can’t fix this team by himself, and years of wear and tear were finally beginning to show in his game.
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Regardless, Gibson still proved to be the Anaheim Ducks’ most reliable, valuable, determined, and strong player out on the ice. Every night, for 60 minutes (sometimes more), he experienced brutality at the hands of, not only the opposition but his own team.
The Anaheim Ducks hit new lows this season. With a defense in front of him that didn’t play… defense, and an offense who couldn’t for the life of them find the back of the net, Gibson was often the only player who kept the Ducks from falling to the bottom of the hockey food chain.
Despite visible physical and mental exhaustion, he continued to push himself for the sake of his team, a team that he so clearly believes in; even when they don’t believe in themselves. He was the strength and the cornerstone behind what little success the Anaheim Ducks did have. His character and leadership were a guide when they fell hard. Most importantly, he did his best to hold his team accountable, calling them out when they fell into the old patterns of being content with inconsistency.
You have spoken, and we have heard you loud and clear. No one deserves to be recognized as this season’s hero more than John Gibson.
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